Verstappen dominates historic Saudi Arabian GP as Bearman seventh

Max Verstappen continued his perfect start to the 2024 Formula 1 season, as he cruised to a 56th career win with a dominant Saudi Arabian Grand Prix display.

From pole position, Verstappen quickly gapped the field, headed by Charles Leclerc and then Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez until a Lap 6 Safety Car brought the majority of the field in to swap their Medium tyres for a set of Hard Pirellis.

This Safety Car was caused by Lance Stroll’s big crash at Turn 23, but Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton were among the four drivers unable to pit to avoid double-stacking behind their team-mates.

Norris would take the Lap 10 restart in the lead, and whilst Verstappen tried to fire up his Hard tyres, pulled away, but the World Champion scythed past using DRS at Turn 1 on Lap 13.

Both Perez and Leclerc would eventually clear Norris, who like Hamilton ran long on their Mediums, with the Mexican overcoming a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release on Fernando Alonso during the Safety Car pit-stops.

However, he finished well ahead of Leclerc to make it a Red Bull one-two.

Ferrari debutant Oliver Bearman scored points on his debut for the team, banking a seventh place finish after a smart drive.

At lights out, Norris was investigated and subsequently cleared for a jump-start, as Leclerc just about held off the fast-starting Perez but was forced to cede position on Lap 4, with Verstappen 2.1s up the road and out of DRS range.

After quickly clearing Norris after the Safety Car restart, Verstappen easily gapped Perez with a continual flurry of fastest laps, as the #11 and #16 of Leclerc eventually found their ways past Norris as the top three broke away.

Verstappen would go onto win by to record Red Bull’s 115th win in F1 and move it clear of Williams into fourth on the all-time list behind Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes. It was also his ninth straight win to match the old record of consecutive wins as he took his 100th podium.

Oscar Piastri, who had looked like he could challenge for a podium in the early stages found his race ruined after being stuck behind Hamilton for most of the race, with the McLaren lacking straight-line speed.

On Lap 35, Piastri tried and did get ahead of the seven-time champion, but out-braked himself and was forced to give fifth-place back, although he did finally get past the Mercedes three laps later when Hamilton pitted at the end of Lap 37.

Piastri would go onto finish in fourth, as Fernando Alonso banked fifth for Aston Martin with George Russell the lead British driver in sixth.

Norris pitted soon after Hamilton, emerging just ahead of Hamilton also on Softs as the two Britons tried to hunt down Bearman, about 7.5s ahead as they emerged.

Norris was noted for weaving on the pit-straight against Hamilton, and subsequently awarded a black-and-white flag, as the elder Briton set the then-fastest lap, with the McLaren visibly stronger through the high-speed sections of track.

The two slowly ate into Bearman’s lead, but it was not enough to catch the 18-year-old as he took points on his F1 debut with Norris eighth, Hamilton ninth and Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the points positions.

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Magnussen’s eventful afternoon

The final point went to Hulkenberg after a gallant drive from the heavily-penalised Kevin Magnussen in the sister Haas.

Magnussen was handed two seperate 10 second time penalties by the stewards for colliding with Alex Albon and then cutting the track to gain an advantage over Yuki Tsunoda – but stubbornly remained in 12th place.

The Dane expertly held the chasing pack of Albon, Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon at bay to allow Hulkenberg – who did not stop during the Stroll Safety Car – the opportunity to build a gap.

It worked as the German pitted on Lap 34 and emerged in 11th place, which was effectively a net 10th as Zhou Guanyu had yet to pit.

Albon took 11th once Magnussen was penalised, with Ocon

Elsewhere, it was a quiet afternoon from Logan Sargeant, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas as they came home last of the 18 finishers with only two retirements.

Along with Stroll, Pierre Gasly also posted a DNF for Alpine after reporting a gearbox issue on the formation lap.

The Frenchman took the start, but was quickly pulled into the pits by the team at the end of the first lap.


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