Max Verstappen overtakes Charles Leclerc with four laps remaining to get revenge in Jeddah; Verstappen and Leclerc benefited from unfortunately-timed Safety Car for Sergio Perez, who had led early; Lewis Hamilton 10th for Mercedes after fightback before setback
Max Verstappen outduelled Charles Leclerc to win the Saudi Arabian GP and get revenge on his rival following another spectacular battle between the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers to start Formula 1 2022.
After Sergio Perez lost his lead due to an unfortunately-timed Safety Car, the sport’s young stars went wheel to wheel in an epic finale to the race – a week after their Bahrain exploits – though this time Verstappen came out on top.
The world champion overtook Leclerc into Turn 1 with just four laps remaining to claim a vital first win of the season after his late DNF in the opener.
Verstappen added: “I’m really happy that we’ve finally kick-started the season.”
Carlos Sainz completed the podium in the other Ferrari, ahead of Red Bull’s Perez and Mercedes’ George Russell, whose team-mate Lewis Hamilton only managed a single point in 10th after a mixed evening.
F1’s fastest street race – taking place two days after a missile attack hit a nearby oil facility in Jeddah – was always going to throw up chaotic racing and the quality of it, particularly between Verstappen and Leclerc, was a joy to behold.
Perez started on pole and controlled the opening portion of the race, more than two seconds clear of Leclerc and Verstappen before Red Bull pitted the Mexican. Cue agony for Perez as Latifi crashed his Williams – much like he did in qualifying – to bring out a Safety Car and an opportunity for others.
Leclerc and Verstappen took advantage of the slower pace to pit and take the top two positions, while there was more woe for Perez as he was adjudged to have passed Sainz illegally under the Safety Car and forced to cede third.
From there, Leclerc and Verstappen sped away before treating fans to a spectacle of racing.
Verstappen thought he got the move done on Lap 43 after passing Leclerc into the last corner, though the Monegasque immediately struck back on the main straight with DRS. There were shades of Bahrain when Leclerc pulled off a similar manoeuvre, and it looked like Ferrari were heading for two wins out of two.
There was more fierce racing between the Alpines – Alonso had ousted Ocon in their battle and was enjoying a superb race before his DNF – and the early signs for F1 2022 are very promising indeed.
The season continues with the Australian GP on April 10, live on Sky Sports F1.