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Saudi Arabian GP: Max Verstappen wins in Jeddah in Red Bull one-two as Oliver Bearman finishes seventh on debut

Max Verstappen makes it two dominant wins from two at the start of F1 2024 but it is Ferrari debutant Oliver Bearman who steals the Saudi show, with a brilliant drive to seventh; Sergio Perez completes second successive Red Bull one-two ahead of Charles Leclerc in repeat of Bahrain podium

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Highlights of the Saudi Arabian GP from Jeddah.

Max Verstappen continued the immaculate start to his quest for a fourth consecutive F1 world title with a comfortable win over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez in the Saudi Arabian GP, as Ferrari stand-in Oliver Bearman finished a surging seventh and scored points on his unexpected F1 debut.

With Verstappen cantering to his second win in a row at the start of the new 2024 season - and a ninth in succession overall, one shy of his own all-time F1 record - around the high-speed Jeddah street track, much of the focus in the race was again on the fights behind him, with British debutant Bearman capturing much of the attention.

The 18-year-old, who had only learned after the opening day of practice had been completed that he would be making his F1 debut this weekend instead of racing in F2 after Carlos Sainz was diagnosed with appendicitis and had to undergo surgery, had already qualified an impressive 11th in a car he had never driven in a sure-footed performance on Friday.

The Ferrari reserve driver's assuredness only grew in his maiden Grand Prix under the floodlights in Jeddah.

Moving into the points positions midway through the 50-lap race after overtakes on Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu, Bearman eventually moved up to seventh and kept his composure into the closing stages despite knowing he had fellow Britons Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton chasing him down on fresher tyres across the final 10 laps.

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Lewis Hamilton and George Russell congratulate debutant Oliver Bearman after an impressive seventh place in the Ferrari

By finishing seventh Bearman, who became the third-youngest F1 driver ever and the youngest to race for Ferrari, scored the best race result for a debutant since Brazil's Felipe Nasr took fifth at his first race in 2015.

Perez beat the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc to second place for the second week running, overtaking the front-row starter in the race's early laps before the race was neutralised by the Safety Car on lap seven when Lance Stroll crashed out in his Aston Martin.

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Lance Stroll has a huge crash in the early stages of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, bringing out the Safety Car

Leclerc eventually finished 10s behind the second Red Bull on the road, although the deficit halved in the final classification after a five-second penalty was applied to Perez's race time for an unsafe release from his earlier sole pit stop.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri took a distant fourth after spending much of the race unable to find a way past Hamilton, who was one of several drivers not to pit under the Safety Car.

Fernando Alonso capped a strong weekend with fifth place in the remaining Aston Martin, with George Russell sixth for Mercedes ahead of countrymen Bearman in seventh, Norris in eighth and Hamilton in ninth.

Norris, like Hamilton, did not pit under the Safety Car and inherited the lead of the race before being overtaken in the laps after the restart by the Red Bulls and Leclerc.

Nico Hulkenberg, meanwhile, opened Haas' account for 2024 with the final point after a strong drive to 10th.

Saudi Arabian GP result: Top 10

1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
3) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
4) Oscar Piastri, McLaren
5) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
6) George Russell, Mercedes
7) Oliver Bearman, Ferrari
8) Lando Norris, McLaren
9) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
10) Nico Hulkenberg, Haas

Early Safety Car can't disrupt Verstappen's relentless dominance

Verstappen had comfortably led away from his latest pole position but lost the lead to McLaren's Norris when the Safety Car came out for Stroll's accident.

Although most of the leading runners used this as an early opportunity to pit and switch to the hard-compound tyres in an attempt to take them all the way to the chequered flag without the need to stop again, Norris inherited the lead after staying out.

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Watch the dramatic start to the Saudi Arabian GP as Charles Leclerc battles Sergio Perez and Oliver Bearman tags Yuki Tsunoda

Norris had been the second McLaren on the road at the time of the Safety Car behind Piastri and would have lost ground waiting to pit had the team opted to double stack their cars. Mercedes also only pitted their lead car at the time, Russell, with Hamilton following Norris in staying out and gaining temporary track position.

But, after soon overtaking the McLaren when the race resumed, Verstappen raced away at the front with characteristic dominance and was rarely seen on the TV world feed thereafter.

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Max Verstappen expresses his gratitude after winning the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Perez's run to second was not quite as straightforward, although such was the pace of the Red Bull RB20 that once he had overtaken the front-row starting Leclerc and then picked off the longer-running Norris, he enjoyed a clear pace edge over the lead Ferrari to not have to worry about his looming five-second penalty.

Nineteen seconds behind Verstappen in a race that spent several laps behind a Safety Car, Leclerc's only real solace was taking the fastest lap bonus point away from his Dutch rival in the closing laps.

Has Bearman's debut put him in the shop window for F1 2025?

To what extent Bearman's impressive debut weekend at the top level opens up chances for a full-time drive somewhere on the 2025 grid, where there are currently at least 13 vacancies, will not become clear for several more months yet, but the teenager certainly could have done little more to put himself in the shop window over the past 48 hours.

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Oliver Bearman reflects on his Ferrari debut and gives an insight into the difference between F1 and F2

Bearman was congratulated by Hamilton - who himself is joining Ferrari next year - and Russell in parc ferme - and received warm words of praise from a host of established drivers, including his team-mate.

"He's been incredible," said Leclerc. "Seventh in your first race in F1 having only done FP3 in a new car is hugely impressive and I'm sure he's extremely proud.

"Everybody has noticed how talented he is and I'm sure it's just a matter of time before he's in F1."

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Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, and George Russell pay homage to the talented Oliver Bearman who successfully stepped in for Carlos Sainz by securing P7 at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Sky F1's Naomi Schiff said: "Incredible job from him. He didn't set a foot wrong and was really punchy from the beginning.

"He showed race pace, aggression and wanting to get the most out of this day. A fantastic job."

What the top three said

Max Verstappen, Red Bull - 1st: "Overall, a fantastic weekend for the whole team and myself. I felt really good with the car and it was the same in the race.

"The last stint was a bit longer than we would have liked but with the Safety Car you had to go for it."

Sergio Perez, Red Bull - 2nd: "We definitely made some good progress. I just think it was a shame we qualified out of the front row because we had a great start. Unfortunately, Charles really kept it together and we couldn't get through. It was a nice fight.

"And later on it was quite a compromised race with the Safety Car there so early, it was a very long stint on the hard tyres.

"It was a shame that we got that penalty. Luckily, it didn't hurt our race, but in this scenario I was quite close to Max and everyone was coming in at the same time, we just didn't have a wide enough pit lane."

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari - 3rd: "We had quite good pace because we had the fastest lap at the end and I got helped by DRS.

"Overall, the feeling was pretty good. It was a bit of a boring race because Red Bull were a bit too quick and behind we had a gap.

"But we took the maximum points we could today and that was the target, so that's great."

Saudi Arabian GP Race Result

Driver Team Time
1) Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:20.43.273
2) Sergio Perez Red Bull +13.643
3) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +18.639
4) Oscar Piastri McLaren +32.007
5) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +35.759
6) George Russell Mercedes +39.936
7) Oliver Bearman Ferrari +42.679
8) Lando Norris McLaren +45.708
9) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +47.391
10) Nico Hulkenberg Haas +76.996
11) Alex Albon Williams +88.354
12) Kevin Magnussen Haas +100.737
13) Esteban Ocon Alpine +1 lap
14) Yuki Tsunoda RB +1 lap
15) Logan Sargeant Williams +1 lap
16) Daniel Ricciardo RB +1 lap
17) Valtteri Bottas Sauber +1 lap
18) Zhou Guanyu Sauber +1 lap
Lance Stroll Aston Martin Did Not Finish
Pierre Gasly Alpine Did Not Finish

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