Red Bull driver Max Verstappen put on an impressive display to get the better of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and claim his first race win of the season in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
However, the race did not go quite as planned for Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, who had started in pole position.
Much to the disappointment and frustration of Perez, the safety car and Ferrari’s clever bait meant he finished P4.
Perez must have been feeling there was a realistic chance at him winning the third race of his career if early signs were anything to go by.
Ferrari played a masterstroke by asking Leclerc to come and pit in lap 15. This was done with the clear intention of giving Leclerc a chance to undercut Perez.
Hence, Red Bull called in the Mexican, but to his surprise, Leclerc’s Ferrari did not follow him to the pits. The bluff could not have been better timed and planned.
Matters got worse for Red Bull after Nicholas Latifi rammed into the barriers and necessitated the intervention of a safety car.
This undeniably gave Leclerc a great opportunity to pit. This is something that the Ferrari driver has since spoken about.
Red Bull failed to read Ferrari’s bluff
He discussed how his team had used a dummy pit stop technique to try to bluff Red Bull.
“We did everything right as a team. Strategy, pit stop, the dummy call on Checo at the beginning,” Leclerc said.
While Latifi’s crash was hugely detrimental to Perez’ chances, it did give the Ferraris a big advantage.
Both Leclerc and Sainz failed to capitalise on this and were eventually overtaken by Verstappen owing to the team’s lack of pace on straights.
While Leclerc was respectful in his comments regarding Verstappen and their growing rivalry, he could not hide his disappointment over Red Bull’s advantage on the straights.
“Although I’m disappointed to lose the victory so late in the race, it feels good to be fighting for wins again,” he said.
“Whenever I had a bit of margin to Max (Verstappen), I could manage the race well. But after the Virtual Safety Car, as soon as he got in the DRS range, it became difficult.”
Ferrari looks like it has rediscovered some of its best form this season and look like real contenders as far as the constructors’ championship is concerned.
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