Red Bull driver Sergio Perez wins his fifth career victory in Jeddah, holding off a charging Max Verstappen in a race full of drama and intensity.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix proved to be a thrilling spectacle for F1 fans as Sergio Perez held off Max Verstappen to take his fifth career victory and first under the lights at Jeddah. In a race full of drama and intensity, Perez showed his class and tenacity to fend off the challenges from his Red Bull team-mate and win the race with a gap of 5.355 seconds.
Pole Position and an Intense Battle with Verstappen
Perez qualified for pole position, as Charles Leclerc was 0.155s off the pace on Saturday and Verstappen was eliminated in Q2 with a driveshaft issue. The reigning champion scythed through the field but ended up second to Perez, who displayed his driving prowess and held his nerve under pressure.
“I did enjoy the race to be honest. I enjoyed it a lot, especially at the end, just pushing each other with the lap times knowing that he went a tenth faster, tenth slower, tenth slower, and it was all pretty intense. Then we were told to maintain a certain pace, then I was told again to push then to maintain the pace – so it was just a bit all over the place,” said the race winner.
Managing Tyres and Flashbacks of 2022
Perez lost a position to Fernando Alonso at the start, but he quickly regained his composure and focused on managing his tyres. He admitted that he had flashbacks to the 2022 Saudi Arabian GP, where he lost out on pole position when a Safety Car emerged and gave rivals an opportune time to pit for tyres. This year, there was a Safety Car at Jeddah – but this time, Perez capitalised on it.
“Once I got past Fernando, I could do… my race, but once again when that Safety Car came out, it reminded me all over of Jeddah last year again and I was like ‘not again’ but luckily we hadn’t pitted at the time so yeah, it was a new race after the Safety Car again."
Pushing to Maintain the Gap
“Very early on, Max came back and we were basically towards the end just making sure we get that healthy gap between myself and Max but that meant we were pushing quite hard and trying to maintain the gap,” concluded Perez, who heads to Melbourne just one point behind his teammate in the drivers' standings.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a thrilling spectacle for F1 fans, and the performance of Sergio Perez will be a talking point for some time. He showed his class, tenacity, and skill under pressure, and his victory was well-deserved.