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AS IT HAPPENED: Max Verstappen wins Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after epic battle with Charles Leclerc
JEDDAH: Reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen held off Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari to win the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari finished third with Sergio Perez, Verstappen’s pole-starting teammate, in fourth.
Verstappen was getting his first points of the season after a late retirement behind winner Leclerc at the season opener in Bahrain last weekend.
“We fought hard up front. It was tough. I’m really happy that we’ve finally started the season,” Verstappen said.
Despite the loss, Leclerc retains his lead in the world championship after two rounds.
“It wasn’t enough today, but I really enjoyed this race. It’s a tough race but it’s fair, every race should be like this. It was fun, obviously I’m disappointed, I wanted to win today,” he said.
Merecedes’ fallen seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who suffered his worst qualifying since 2017 on Saturday, started in unfamiliar surroundings from 15th on the grid and crossed the line in 10th.
Follow the progress of the race below… (Every hour BST)
7:35 p.m. – RESULT! Verstappen wins! He managed to create a gap of more than half a second before the DRS zone and Leclerc couldn’t catch up with him before the checkered flag…
19:30 – Verstappen doubles again in the straight line! Leclerc may only have one more chance to overtake the Dutchman on the final lap of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Two riders who have competed since childhood get into it with four laps to go. All eyes are on P1 and P2 as the two drivers go head-to-head.
Leclerc loses grip at the back as a yellow flag is called in sector 1 with two laps to go…
19:25 – The virtual safety car is complete.
The gap between Leclerc and Verstappen is just three tenths of a second, meaning Verstappen is clear for DRS and is now waiting for his opportunity down the straight.
Verstappen is on the back of Charles Leclerc and overtakes the Monegasque!
Leclerc back seems to have let Verstappen pass before the DRS zone so he could get it. If that was his plan, it worked. Leclerc gets the DRS as Verstappen falls into the bait and is passed by Leclerc
19:20 – Drivers who entered the closed pit lane include Magnussen and Hulkenberg.
Officials say the closed pit lane was due to Alonso withdrawing his car, followed by Ricciardo and Bottas
19:15 – McLaren cracks top ten as Alonso struggles in his Alpine and drops one position after another on the grid
In a quick turn of events, Ricciardo who also had a good drive like Alonso is now moving very slowly and falling to the back of the pitch.
19:10 – Perez, who took his first-ever pole on Saturday and led the early stages of the race, is still in P4 and has more than two seconds left to try to get back on the podium with 15 laps to go.
19:05 – Leclerc posted the best lap in 1 minute and 32:71 seconds. The gap between him and world champion Red Bull remains around 1 second as the battle for first place continues with 20 laps to go.
Hulkenberg, replacing Sebastian Vettel, chases Norris in the McLaren after Norris overtakes him to get behind his co-driver. Hulkenberg loses another position to Gasly.
19:00 – Ricciardo who struggled massively at the start found his way to P11 as the race passed halfway through.
18:55 – Charles Leclerc has just set the fastest time and is out of reach of the DRS, bad news for the Dutchman. Hamilton is not yet in the pits, as the Mercedes pair hold P5 and P6 on lap 24.
Magnussen fights back against Hamilton and takes over P5 after activating the DRS taking him past the Mercedes.
18:50 – Leclerc leads on lap 21, followed by Verstappen with less than a second between the two drivers. Sainz overtakes Perez and earns his redemption on the track.
18:47 – The safety car ends on lap 20, Hamilton pulled a pit from the bag, finding his way to P7 just before his deployment.
18:45 – Perez could face a penalty after pushing Sainz off his pit lane which nearly caused the Spaniard to crash into the barriers. Sainz awaits a response from the stewards.
Video replays show Latifi taking power early in the final corner, causing him to lose control and crash into the barriers nose-first – two crashes in two days for Latifi.
18:40 – All drivers on hard tires now after the pits as the race enters lap 18. Leclerc leads followed by the Red Bull duo, Verstappen and Perez
6:30 p.m. – Hamilton finds his way to the top ten and into the points after using DRS on the main straight and passing Gasly.
The yellow flag was waved after Nicholas Latifi oversteered and crashed into the wall, bad news for Perez who had just stopped before the crash, and with the safety car out of the Ferrari pit with Russell , Alonso, Bottas, Ocon and others.
18:25 – Hamilton passed Norris for 11th as he continues to fight his way to the points and closes in on Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Taurin
On lap 15, Perez leads while the teams using Mercedes engines are at the bottom of the grid, McLaren, Aston Martin and the Williams teams.
18:20 – On lap 9, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton struggled to grip the hard tires but managed to climb to P12 after passing Lance Stroll.
Kevin Magnussen, who was racing in Arabia for the first time, overtook Valteri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo but Bottas gets the top and successfully defends the P8.
18:15 – Ricciardo, who found himself 14th after picking up a penalty for hampering Ocon in qualifying on Saturday, now finds himself one position behind Lance Stroll with co-driver Lando Norris ahead in P11.
Alonso ousted teammate Ocon on lap 7 to take sixth place, although the Frenchman had made an ambitious attempt to fight him off despite Alonso’s faster pace on the track so far.
18:05 – Hamilton on hard tires climbs one position to 14th after failing to qualify on Saturday. He was pushed back to 15th on the grid after a massive crash by German driver Mick Schumacher forced Haas to field just one car.
George Russell goes around and overtakes Esteban Ocon in the Alpine.
18:00 – Here we go ! Perez leads, followed by Leclerc, Verstappen takes third from Sainz off the grid. It’s Red Bull-Ferrari-Red Bull Ferrari as the race begins.
17:55 – The drivers headed to Jeddah’s Corniche circuit for the formation lap ahead of the start of the second round of the 2022 Formula 1 season in Saudi Arabia.
14:15 – Good news for Mick Schumacher after a heavy crash in qualifying yesterday. Hopefully it will be operational again for Round 3 of the World Championship in Melbourne in two weeks.
14:00 – So, just three months after the first-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, we’re back in Jeddah for another race. Here’s a look at the starting grid for Sunday’s race, the second round of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship:
Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull)
Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari)
Carlos Sainz (ESP/Ferrari)
Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull)
Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault)
George Russell (GBR/Mercedes)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine-Renault)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari)
Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Red Bull)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari)
Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)
Zhou Guanyu (CHN/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari)
Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin-Mercedes)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
Alexander Albon (THA/Williams-Mercedes)
Nico Huelkenberg (GER/Aston Martin-Mercedes)
Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams-Mercedes)
Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Honda)
Do not start: Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas-Ferrari)