Patience paid off for Verstappen in Saudi Arabia

“I really enjoyed it and it’s not easy to get past him, patience is always key”

By The Newsroom
Monday, 28th March 2022, 9:59 am
<p>Max Verstappen is congratulated by Charles Leclerc in Saubi Arabia. The pair duelled for several laps at the end before the Red Bull Racing man came out on top.</p>

Max Verstappen is congratulated by Charles Leclerc in Saubi Arabia. The pair duelled for several laps at the end before the Red Bull Racing man came out on top.

World champion Max Verstappen said he had to bide his time to make a move stick on Charles Leclerc to claim victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Verstappen trailed the Ferrari man, who was leading the championship after his win in the first race in Bahrain last Sunday, throughout the race and closed the gap in the final few laps after a virtual safety car period.

The pair traded blows in the DRS zones, with Verstappen taking the lead twice only to see the Ferrari pass him back into the first corner.

The Dutchman though lured Leclerc into a defensive move into the final corner with three laps to go, allowing him to get the DRS advantage down the pit-straight, taking the lead into the first turn and building a small gap to prevent a last-ditch move from the Ferrari to claim his first win and points of the season.

The pair traded similar moves in the season opener last week too, with Verstappen saying he is currently enjoying the on-track rivalry he is having with his old karting foe.

Max Verstappen crosses the line just ahead of Charles Leclerc to claim his first win of the season

He said: “I had a lot of fun battling with Charles again, I really enjoyed it and it’s not easy to get past him, patience is always key, especially if you want to fight for the championship.

“In the beginning it was pretty difficult to follow but I think once we swapped to the hard tyre we were able to push more and the pace was better.

“We played the long game on the tyres which seemed to pay off. Towards the end of the race it felt like we were doing lots of quali laps, which was intense but really cool.

“Ultimately, we were able to win and we can be very proud of that as a team. It wasn’t easy out there, but I think we maximised all that we could today.”

Sergio Perez’s pit-stop came at the wrong time for the Mexican as he dropped from first to fourth.

It was not such good news for Sergio Perez though, who dropped from first to fourth after an ill-timed virtual safety car period came just after he made his stop from the lead.

“I think sometimes when you don’t have the right luck you cannot win the race, especially on crazy tracks like this, it knocks you down,” he said. “I think I dominated the first stint and I was comfortably in the lead and had the race under control but unfortunately that wasn’t enough.

“At first, it was a virtual safety car so I was going to lose a position and then under the safety car I lost out to Carlos too. It was the worst timing straight after my pit stop and made regaining P1 impossible after that.

“It was a bit of a shame I couldn’t get Carlos at the end to be on the podium but I didn’t get the chance.

“There are definitely a lot of positives to take from this weekend, yesterday putting it on pole and today having the race pace.”