Red Bull boss Christian Horner has suggested that Max Verstappen was fortunate to come away with victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Fans were treated to another enthralling race as the new season’s ground effect cars continue to provide wheel-to-wheel action.
Verstappen’s team-mate, Sergio Perez, started on pole in Jeddah after a sensational qualifying performance. The Dutchman himself was back in fourth and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton provided the biggest shock, having failed to make it out of Q1 for the first time since 2017.
Perez started well and put distance between himself and the chasing pack, led by Ferrari star Charles Leclerc. However, an unfortunately-timed pit stop and subsequent safety car intervention proved his downfall as he slipped back to fourth.
Verstappen expressed sympathy for the Mexican over the team radio, but naturally capitalised on his good fortune and relished the gripping battle with Leclerc in which the Red Bull man came out on top.
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After the race, Horner admitted to the F1 Nation podcast that Perez would have taken his third career victory instead of Verstappen but for his misfortune.
“[Checo was] desperately unlucky,” he said, “He made the start, he was controlling the race. He would have won that race if it wasn’t for the safety car intervention.
“Sometimes they work for you, sometimes they go against you. He is disappointed but he is level about it. He understands there is nothing we could have done. Frustrating for him but he will get a lot out of it.”
It was a crucial result for Red Bull who, with Verstappen’s win and Perez’s P4, put a total of 37 points on the board. Last time out their strong pace was rewarded with nothing as both drivers were forced to retire with mechanical issues in Bahrain.
Last season’s bitter rivals, Mercedes, are just one point ahead as George Russell and Hamilton were forced to settle for fifth and 10th respectively in what was another underwhelming weekend. At this early stage of the season, Ferrari look like the main contenders with Leclerc and Carlos Sainz featuring on the podium after both races thus far.
“It’s great to be on the board,” added Horner, “After the difficulty of last weekend, the bounce back from the team was outstanding.
“That race today, Max paid [the team] back with a great victory. It was such a competitive race between us and Ferrari today, it was just really fine margins. I was relieved to see the chequered flag, I wish I could have seen it three laps earlier.”