Max Verstappen overtook Charles Leclerc with four laps remaining before fending off a last-gasp attack by his Ferrari foe to win the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The two were well ahead of the rest of the field, trading positions each and every lap.
The overtook that eventually cemented Verstappen’s win came on the main straight. The Red Bull blasted past Leclerc with the help of DRS.
A potential fightback was hindered slightly by a collision between Alex Albon and Lance Stroll. The consequent yellow flag at turn one meant Leclerc had to look elsewhere to reclaim the lead.
He wouldn’t, despite a late push on the final two laps, and Verstappen would cling on for his first win of the year.
“It was really tough and a good race,” Verstappen said.
Verstappen wasn’t a massive fan of Leclerc’s driving tactics, namely about the Ferrari supposedly crossing the pit entry blend line on multiple occasions.
He also believed Leclerc didn’t back off enough under yellow flags.
“That’s so unfair,” Verstappen said via team radio.
In any case, he had enough in the tank to keep Leclerc at bay. Just four-tenths split the pair at the chequered flag.
Both traded a thumbs up on the dawdle back to the pits.
“Just a great motor race,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said.
Leclerc continues to lead the championship, with teammate Carlos Sainz still second after another podium result.
Sainz was in his own battle with Sergio Perez for third.
Perez, who started on pole for the first time in his own career, was caught out by an untimely safety car intervention that cost him a shot at the win.
Both are under investigation for failing to slow down under yellow flags, but no penalty has been announced.
George Russell finished as the lead Mercedes for the first time, crossing the line fifth.
His stablemate, Lewis Hamilton started a lowly 16th. Running all the way to the final ten laps on one set of tyres, Hamilton picked up one point for his efforts with a P10 result.
F1 returns to Australia next time, with that race on April 10.
|3||Carlos Sainz Jr.||+8.097s|
|13||Lance Stroll||+1 lap|