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Max Verstappen cruises to dominant victory in Saudi Arabian F1 Grand Prix
F1 Sport

Max Verstappen cruises to dominant victory in Saudi Arabian F1 Grand Prix

There is uncertainty surrounding Max Verstappen’s future with Red Bull Racing due to ongoing issues within the team. However, there is no doubt about his talent as a driver, as he demonstrated with a dominant victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

As manipulative tactics manipulate the team’s dynamics, Verstappen serves as a reminder that he holds significant influence in the ongoing power struggle that could divide Red Bull.

Max Verstappen triumphed from the front of the grid, exhibiting a commanding performance that seemed quite expected despite it being only the second race of the season. He outpaced his teammate, Sergio Pérez, by a significant 13 seconds and left Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, the closest non-Red Bull competitor, far behind with a gap of 18 seconds.

After successfully maintaining his lead in the first corner, he quickly pulled away from the other racers, just like he did in the first race in Bahrain. This dominating performance is a foreboding sign for the rest of the season, which still has 22 more events remaining.

Oliver Bearman, hailing from Britain, made his F1 debut for Ferrari while filling in for Carlos Sainz who is currently recuperating from appendicitis. The 18-year-old driver received great recognition for his remarkable performance, earning a round of applause from the team’s garage. Notably, he also holds the record for being the youngest British driver to compete in F1.

After completing one of the most challenging circuits of the season, the exhausted Bearman, who was summoned by Ferrari at the last minute on Friday morning, stated that he was pleased with his performance.

“He expressed his excitement for the race, mentioning that he was constantly pushing. He was taken aback by the intensity of our efforts. The experience was mind-blowing, especially towards the end when I had two competitors with softer tires closing in on me. I couldn’t ease up, my determination was unwavering. Overall, it was a thrilling and confidence-boosting experience.”

It was another consummate – if uninspiring competitively – drive from Verstappen that demonstrated a relentless precision and flawless execution and left him unchallenged out front. A fine performance then, but perhaps only brief succour from the furore overwhelming the world champion and his team.

Verstappen shone under the floodlights of Jeddah, but no matter how fast he drives he simply cannot escape the controversy that has engulfed Red Bull and in which he himself is now embroiled.

When he raced for his second dominating win of the year, the major discussion was about whether the Dutch racer’s future would remain with the team he has won the previous three world championships with. He is expected to clinch his fourth championship this year with ease.

Just two months ago, it seemed impossible to imagine, after easily winning their third title, that the chaos at Red Bull would become a topic of open discussion.

On Friday, Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s advisor for motorsport, stated that he was being investigated and faced possible suspension. It is speculated that this is due to his alleged disclosure of confidential information regarding the investigation into team principal Christian Horner. Following the inquiry, Horner was cleared of any misconduct accusations.

Oliver Bearman on track during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.View image in fullscreen

Verstappen has been unsure about his support for Horner, but he was more open in expressing his support for the man who brought him into the Red Bull team. He even hinted that if Marko was no longer a part of the team, he might also leave. It’s believed that Verstappen’s contract includes a clause that allows him to do this.

Over the weekend, Marko and Mintzlaff, CEO of Red Bull GmbH (parent company of Red Bull Racing), met in Saudi Arabia to discuss any current issues. When questioned about Verstappen’s future with the team, Mintzlaff reassured that he has a valid contract.

Marko, like others involved in this turbulent and contentious situation, shared his desire to continue with the team following their discussions. He mentioned that “everything has been cleared,” but did not disclose any specifics about the conversation. As with many aspects of this chaotic and contentious situation, it is challenging to fully trust any statements made.

The worker who made the complaint has been suspended due to the results of the investigation involving Horner. Verstappen’s father, Jos, has publicly called for Horner to be removed from his position. This demand was reiterated by Jos while participating in the Hannut Rally in Belgium on Friday, as he and his son stand united with Marko, clearly divided in their stance.

In the midst of all this chaos, F1 continued with their racing events – something that both F1’s owners and the FIA are worried feels like a mere distraction compared to Red Bull’s high-profile and theatrical downfall.

Verstappen once again proved his value in Jeddah, sending a clear message to all involved in the chaotic and tumultuous situation.

On a far more edifying note for the sport, Bearman, at only 18 years, 10 months and one day old, acquitted himself enormously well. It was all the more impressive given that until Friday practice and qualifying he had never driven the car before.

The young resident of Chelmsford became the initial English driver for Ferrari since Nigel Mansell in 1990, and he demonstrated great potential. Despite having only two hours of experience in the car and starting from 11th place on the challenging and unforgiving track, Bearman performed exceptionally.

With quickness and confidence, he skillfully navigated through tight spaces and a crowded pack, displaying no signs of hesitation. He drove like an experienced professional, executing strategic maneuvers and maintaining composure to fend off a late push from McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Bearman, in a highly stressful situation – particularly given his first appearance in Ferrari’s iconic red – performed confidently and proved himself as a strong candidate for an F1 position in the upcoming season. Following this weekend, Verstappen would surely reminisce about the simpler, easier times in his career with envy.

Mercedes had difficulty increasing their speed, and finished with George Russell in sixth place and Lewis Hamilton in ninth. McLaren’s Oscar Piastri came in fourth, with Norris following in eighth. Fernando Alonso placed fifth for Aston Martin, while Nico Hülkenberg of Haas finished in tenth.

Source: theguardian.com