Jeddah [Saudi Arabia], March 28 (ANI): Max Verstappen took his first victory of the 2022 Formula 1 season thanks to a late overtaking move past Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in a nail-biting finish to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Carlos Sainz took third place for Ferrari, while pole position man and early race leader Sergio Perez was forced to settle for fourth after he was disadvantaged by a safety car period just after his first pit stop.
Perez led until Lap 16, when a flash of Ferrari mechanics perhaps triggered Red Bull into an early pit stop. That proved to be unfortunate; Williams' Nicholas Latifi crashed at the final corner on the next lap and triggered a VSC then Safety Car, with Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz capitalising.
The Mexican was set to restart third on Lap 21 when the Safety Car retreated but was found to have passed Sainz as the Spaniard exited the pits alongside the Red Bull during the caution period, leaving the pole-sitter fourth.
A brief lull followed and at the start of Lap 47, before Verstappen made sure he had DRS and prised the lead off Leclerc, the championship leader unable to close him off this time.
Leclerc put in the fastest lap with a second wind in the closing stage - but Verstappen narrowly kept him at bay, shrugging off the scare of a late Sector 1 yellow flag (for a Lance Stroll-Alex Albon coming-together) to win by just 0.549s.
George Russell took P5 at Esteban Ocon's expense, the Alpine driver having lost out to the Mercedes on Lap 3 and then battled with his teammate Alonso (DNF) in an exciting early-race battle. Ocon, out-dragged here for P3 in 2021, kept McLaren's Lando Norris at bay by a tenth of a second on the line in a drag race for P6. (ANI)