Formula 1 in Saudi Arabia: Verstappen also wins the second race of the season

As of: March 9, 2024 7:56 p.m

Max Verstappen maintains his sporting dominance at Red Bull Racing even in chaotic times. The world champion beat his teammate Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari on Saturday evening (March 9, 2024) in Saudi Arabia; it was his second victory in the second Grand Prix of the year.

At the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the world champion was not quite as dominant as at the start in Bahrain a week ago. In the end, Verstappen was 13 seconds ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez, and Red Bull once again took the one-two victory.

But there is no peace and quiet at the best racing team, on the contrary. The power struggle, which is not just about team boss Christian Horner, continues. A quick replacement of motorsport consultant Helmut Marko, who is seen as Horner’s internal opponent, is now apparently off the table.

Verstappen and Perez secure a double victory for Red Bull

Verstappen and Perez could not be stopped on Saturday, third place went to Ferrari, as in Bahrain – but this time it was taken by Charles Leclerc. Carlos Sainz had to miss out due to an appendix operation, and Oliver Bearman stepped in for him at relatively short notice. The 18-year-old Brit took seventh place. Nico Hülkenberg also scored the first point of the year for the Haas team in tenth place.

Crisis meeting at Red Bull – Marko should stay

Every training session and every qualifying session this season has been overshadowed by the drama at Red Bull. On Saturday there was an attempt to de-escalate: Marko, Verstappen’s long-time confidant and supporter, should stay with the world champions.

It had sounded different the evening before, the 80-year-old had fueled speculation in interviews himself – whereupon Verstappen made it quite clear that he linked his own future with the team to Marko’s whereabouts. On Saturday there was a “very good conversation“held between the Austrian and Red Bull managing director Oliver Mintzlaff,”we agreed on all points“said Marko on Sky:”I will continue. But there has to be calm.

However, this is not foreseeable: an internal investigation against Horner became known weeks ago following allegations from an employee, and it is now quite clear that a power struggle is raging within the team. In this, Horner enjoys the backing of the Red Bull majority owners from Thailand, 49 percent of the company is in Austria. There will be a meeting between the two partners on Sunday.

Trouble behind the scenes – Verstappen confident on the track

On the track, as always in this young year, Verstappen showed no sign of distraction or frustration. The defending champion made an excellent start from pole position and thus kept Leclerc behind him. An early safety car phase caused a bit of chaos: Lance Stroll crashed into the barriers in his Aston Martin, while most of the drivers got new tires during the clean-up work.

Bearman with a remarkable debut at Ferrari

Verstappen relied on the hard tires and briefly lost his lead, but regained it shortly after the race was released and was up and away. Behind him, Perez had now improved to second place, but things were interesting further back in the field.

Bearman made a remarkable debut in Formula 1. Starting from eleventh place, he kept track of the extremely fast and extremely narrow street circuit, moved forward little by little with the superior car and thus scored a few valuable points for the Scuderia. It was a historic effort: Bearman is now the youngest Grand Prix participant in Ferrari’s almost 75-year Formula 1 history.