Max Verstappen outduels Charles Leclerc for dramatic win; Lewis Hamilton 10th

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Max Verstappen outduelled Charles Leclerc to win the Saudi Arabian GP and get revenge on his rival following another spectacular battle between the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers to start Formula 1 2022.

After Sergio Perez lost his lead due to an unfortunately-timed Safety Car, the sport’s young stars went wheel to wheel in an epic finale to the race – a week after their Bahrain exploits – though this time Verstappen came out on top.

“Well done to Max, that was nice,” said Leclerc in a clear message of respect for a driver he could well battle over the season. “It’s hard racing but fair. Every race should be like this.”

Max Verstappen finally managed to pass Charles Leclerc with just three laps remaining in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Verstappen added: “I’m really happy that we’ve finally kick-started the season.”

Carlos Sainz completed the podium in the other Ferrari, ahead of Red Bull’s Perez and Mercedes’ George Russell, whose team-mate Lewis Hamilton only managed a single point in 10th after a mixed evening.

Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen engaged in an epic battle for the lead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

After the race, stewards investigated the final two laps with many drivers seemingly not slowing down sufficiently under double-waved yellows after Alex Albon’s crash, but no further action was deemed necessary beyond a three-place grid penalty for the Williams driver after his collision with Lance Stroll.

Perez was leading comfortably from pole before pitting on Lap 14, which was immediately followed by a Nicholas Latifi crash and early safety car, allowing Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz to pit and overhaul him.

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Sergio Perez was unfortunate to lose the race lead after Nicholas Latifi’s crash brought out the Safety Car.

Hamilton was also unlucky in his pursuit of a strong finish.

The seven-time world champion had progressed from 16th to sixth, but after three retirements in a matter of moments – for Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton wanted to pit under the Virtual Safety Car before the pit-lane closed as he attempted to.

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Lewis Hamilton moved up to sixth place after overtaking the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

That dropped him back to 12th, though he progressed back into the points late on.

Lando Norris scored McLaren’s first points of the season, and Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauris, making up for Yuki Tsunoda’s reliability failure on his way to the grid.

Kevin Magnussen also impressively scored points for Haas again.

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Anthony Davidson analyses the sensational battle between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Saudi Arabian GP Race Result: Top 10

1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
3) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
4) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
5) George Russell, Mercedes
6) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
7) Lando Norris, McLaren
8) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
9) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
10) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

-Skysports