Sergio Perez impressively held off team-mate Max Verstappen’s charge from 15th on the grid to seal a Red Bull one-two at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
A technical failure in qualifying had left Verstappen with only faint hopes of victory, but he looked in with a strong chance when a safety car helped him move up to second and within six seconds of his team-mate before the race reached its halfway stage.
However, Perez, who had only claimed three wins in his two previous seasons as the Dutchman’s team-mate, produced a hugely composed display to hold his advantage as Red Bull claimed a one-two for the second time in as many races this season.
“Again, the safety car wanted to take the victory from us but we did the right thing and it was nice to get it done,” Perez said. “We’ve been really close here and really close in Bahrain – we are living in very small margins at the moment.
“I thought we both pushed more than we needed because in the end it was just one tenth between us – the result wouldn’t have changed. In the end, it’s a massive team result.”
Fernando Alonso appeared to have taken his second successive podium after finishing third, but Mercedes’ George Russell was promoted above the Aston Martin after the Spaniard was handed a 10-second penalty after the race for incorrectly serving an earlier five-second penalty he had incurred for starting in a wrong position.
Alonso led into the first corner after beating pole-sitter Perez off the line, but was soon overtaken by a Red Bull car that he simply didn’t have the pace to compete with. Alonso had started the race too far to the left of his pit box, and his second infringement came because the rear jack was in contact with the back of his car while he served his penalty during his pit stop.
Russell finished on track directly ahead of Lewis Hamilton, having rejected suggestions over team radio he might let his team-mate past him after the safety car had left the seven-time world champion on a more favourable tyre, and with a theoretically better chance of chasing down Alonso.
However, Russell appeared to justify his decision by opening a gap to Hamilton, as the Mercedes cars came home comfortably in front of Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, who was left angry with his team-mate after feeling he had not received the correct instructions under the safety car.
Esteban Ocon finished eighth ahead of team-mate Pierre Gasly to complete a strong afternoon for Alpine, while Kevin Magnussen produced a late overtake to snatch the final point from AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.
Saudi Arabian GP Race Result
1) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3) George Russell, Mercedes
4) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
5) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
6) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
7) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
8) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
9) Pierre Gasly, Alpine
10) Kevin Magnussen, Haas