Riyadh – Sergio Perez held off team-mate Max Verstappen to take a Red Bull one-two in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Verstappen fought up from 15th on the grid to fourth place before a safety car closed up the field and brought him into contention for victory.
But after passing Mercedes’ George Russell and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, Verstappen could not catch Perez and had to settle for second.
Alonso finished third but took a post-race penalty dropping him to fourth.
The Spaniard was penalised five seconds for not being correctly in his grid slot at the start of the race.
He served it in his pit stop, but it was adjudged that the team had broken the rules by touching the car before the five seconds had elapsed and he was given a ten-second penalty as a result, promoting Russell to third.
Lewis Hamilton took fifth, after briefly challenging Russell following the restart after the safety car, ahead of the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
It was Red Bull’s second consecutive one-two at the start of a season they have begun with every impression they will be almost impossible to beat.
How did Perez hold off Verstappen?
Perez started from pole, lost the lead at the start to Alonso, but controlled the grand prix from the front after re-passing the Spaniard on the fourth lap.
Meanwhile, Verstappen steadily picked his way through the field from his lowly starting position, the result of a driveshaft failure in qualifying.
He was up to fourth place when a safety car was sent out on lap 18 of 50 when Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin stopped on track following a technical failure.
At the time, Perez had a 20-second lead over the Dutchman, but the safety car brought the field back together and appeared to give Verstappen a chance to take his second win in two races this year.
After the restart, Verstappen made quick progress past Russell and then Alonso while Perez built as much of a lead as he could.
Perez was 5.4 seconds in front by the time Verstappen got into second place and was able to hold the margin at about that same amount for the rest of the race.
Verstappen complained over the radio about problems with this driveshaft, but had no trouble making it to the flag.
Verstappen set his mind on trying to set fastest lap and clinched it on the final lap – stealing it from Perez – to ensure he leads the championship by virtue of the point he gained for setting it. (BBC)