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Verstappen wins thrilling Saudi Arabian Grand Prix duel with Leclerc, Hamilton 10th

Verstappen wins thrilling Saudi Arabian Grand Prix duel with Leclerc, Hamilton 10th

Verstappen wins thrilling Saudi Arabian Grand Prix duel with Leclerc, Hamilton 10th

Verstappen wins thrilling Saudi Arabian Grand Prix duel with Leclerc, Hamilton 10th

Max Verstappen earned payback on Charles Leclerc to claim victory in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix following a thrilling late duel.

In Bahrain, the F1 champion lost out to the Ferrari driver in their battle royal over a handful of laps before suffering heartbreak late on with a fuel system failure.

On this occasion, the leading protagonists so far this season again treated the fans to another remarkable fight, this time in the closing stages.

With three laps remaining of the 50 at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Red Bull driver Verstappen made the winning move to gain a measure of revenge, with Leclerc eventually crossing the line just half-a-second adrift.

Behind them, Carlos Sainz again made it on to the podium, finishing eight seconds adrift in his Ferrari, with polesitter Sergio Perez fourth in his Red Bull after losing out in a safety car period a third of the way into the race.

Schumacher and Tsuonda exits lead to 18-car field

It was a race that had been whittled down from 20 runners going into the weekend to 18 at the start, with Mick Schumacher out after his horrific crash in qualifying.

Although the 23-year-old German escaped unharmed, the lack of components at this stage of the season led to the team opting to pull him from the event.

Then on the formation lap to the grid, Yuki Tsunoda's AlphaTauri sustained a power unit issue that resulted in him grinding to a halt.

With 18 cars on the grid, from his first pole position since his days in GP2 in 2010, if there were any nerves then they failed to show as Perez made the perfect getaway.

Behind him, it was team-mate Verstappen who made the main move in the opening exchanges as from fourth on the grid he was able to squeeze past Sainz to move up to third.

From that moment on, the leading quartet opened up a gap over fifth-placed George Russell who had made an early move on Alpine's Esteban Ocon who across the first stint was embroiled in an enthralling duel with team-mate Fernando Alonso.

We had to wait until lap 16 for the safety car that cost Perez who, at the end of lap 15 had pitted from his medium rubber onto hard tyres.

Latifi crashes again in his Williams

Moments later, Nicholas Latifi suffered his second crash of the weekend, losing his Williams under braking into the final corner and hitting a wall.

The VSC was initially called, forcing Perez to slow enough that by the time the full safety car was summoned, and with his nearest rivals making cheap stops onto the hard tyres, he dropped to third behind Leclerc and Verstappen, albeit contentiously.

Sainz appeared to have his nose in front as he emerged out of the pit lane with Perez alongside, but the latter forced the Spanish driver wide to claim the third position.

It led to the incident being reviewed by the stewards yet when the race resumed after four laps behind the safety car there had been no call.

Perez, though, very quickly let Sainz by making it a Ferrari-Red Bull-Ferrari-Red Bull lead quartet, with Russell fifth.

The Mercedes driver lost a place in the safety car period due to Kevin Magnussen in his Haas who had stayed out on the hard tyres on which he had started.

Russell, though, quickly scythed his way past the Dane who then had to fend off the second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton makes strides in his Mercedes

The seven-time F1 champion, starting from 15th, his lowest grid slot since the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, had slowly moved his way through the field prior to the safety car.

Like Magnussen, starting on the hard tyres initially played to Hamilton's cause as he was up to seventh once the race resumed on lap 21.

On lap 25, Hamilton surged past Magnussen to claim sixth from which point the race became static.

Out in front, Leclerc was able to hold Verstappen at bay by a constant 1.5s, having the edge in the first sector by a comfortable margin before the Dutch driver made up ground in the second and third.

Alonso, Ricciardo, Bottas all retire in quick succession

On lap 36, with Alonso running seventh after passing Magnussen two laps earlier, he lost power early on a lap, trundling round before eventually grinding to a halt on the entry to the pit lane.

In the period that Alonso slowly crawled, the race remarkably also lost Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas who retired in the pits while McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo also lost power and stopped just prior to the start of the pit lane entry.

Due to the positions of both Alonso and Ricciardo, the pit lane had to be closed, counting against Hamilton who desperately needed to get rid of his hard tyres.

Given the length of time to recover the two cars, the VSC remained in operation for five laps, at the end of which Hamilton was finally able to take on a new set of mediums, albeit dropping from sixth to 12th.

By the chequered flag, Hamilton at least clambered his way back into the points with 10th.

Leclerc and Verstappen engage in battle royal

Out in front, Leclerc and Verstappen then diced for the lead, with the latter passing the former at the end of lap 42.

The Monégasque, however, then had the advantage of DRS going into lap 43 to reclaim the lead.

On the following lap, the duo went wheel to wheel, locking up at one point but again with Leclerc just managing to hold on to his slender advantage.

A wily and patient Verstappen, though, then bided his time and eventually with DRS, as the dicing pair crossed the line at the start of lap 48, he made the move stick.

Behind Russell in fifth was Ocon, with McLaren's Lando Norris seventh followed by AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly, Magnussen and Hamilton, with only 14 finishing as Alex Albon in his Williams also retired after a late collision with Aston Martin's Lance Stroll.

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