Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won a hard-fought battle to win the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The Dutchman started the race 4th in the grid behind the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Meanwhile his Teammate Sergio Perez finished the race 4th.
The Mexican started a race from the Pole position for the first time in his career. But after a rather good start to the race, Red Bull ordered Perez to come in for an early pitstop right before the Virtual Safety car was called out after Williams of Nicholas Latifi crashed
But Formula One Pundit Jolyon Palmer believes Red Bull planned the early pitstop and late yield of position to Carlos Sainz in order to aid Max Verstappen’s chase to hunt down the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
Sergio Perez yet again plays a part in Max Verstappen’s victory
Sergio Perez was incredibly unlucky with the timing of the pitstop, having just pitted to cover off a ‘box to undercut’ radio message from Charles Leclerc and Ferrari. Perez lost position to Carlos Sainz as well, as he passed the Safety Car line behind the Spaniard, but held the position initially much to Sainz’s clear frustration. Perez forfeited the position just after the restart.
Palmer wrote in his F1 column, “Red Bull keeping Perez in third meant he could act as a perfect rear gunner to Verstappen at the restart and ensure Sainz could not pressure the Dutchman for second, exactly as he had done a week earlier at the Bahrain Grand Prix restart. It meant that the top two were able to get a slight advantage over the Perez/Sainz duo, and from there they stretched their legs and made it a two-horse race for the lead.”
He added, “Eventually, Perez relinquished the position just after the restart, but it looked to me like a tactical play from Red Bull to not give the position back to Sainz sooner, which they should have done, having technically overtaken him under the Safety Car.”
Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc exhibited wonderful wheel-to-wheel racing towards the last 10 laps of the race. In the 47th Lap, Verstappen made a lunge on Leclerc in the second DRS zone and the Monegasque was unable to make a quick counter as his tyres had significantly lost grip after defending Verstappen for the previous 45 laps.