Verstappen makes them two from two

Max Verstappen makes it two dominant wins from two at the start of F1 2024 but it is Ferrari debutant Oliver Bearman who steals the Saudi show, with a brilliant drive to seventh; Sergio Perez completes second successive Red Bull one-two ahead of Charles Leclerc in repeat of Bahrain podium.

With Verstappen cantering to his second win in a row at the start of the new 2024 season – and a ninth in succession overall, one shy of his own all-time F1 record – around the high-speed Jeddah street track, much of the focus in the race was again on the fights behind him, with British debutant Bearman capturing much of the attention.

The 18-year-old, who had only learned after the opening day of practice had been completed that he would be making his F1 debut this weekend instead of racing in F2 after Carlos Sainz was diagnosed with appendicitis and had to undergo surgery, had already qualified an impressive 11th in a car he had never driven in a sure-footed performance on Friday.

The Ferrari reserve driver’s assuredness only grew in his maiden Grand Prix under the floodlights in Jeddah.

Moving into the points positions midway through the 50-lap race after overtakes on Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu, Bearman eventually moved up to seventh and kept his composure into the closing stages despite knowing he had fellow Britons Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton chasing him down on fresher tyres across the final 10 laps.

By finishing seventh Bearman, who became the third-youngest F1 driver ever and the youngest to race for Ferrari, scored the best race result for a debutant since Brazil’s Felipe Nasr took fifth at his first race in 2015.

Perez beat the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc to second place for the second week running, overtaking the front-row starter in the race’s early laps before the race was neutralised by the Safety Car on lap seven when Lance Stroll crashed out in his Aston Martin.

Leclerc eventually finished 10s behind the second Red Bull on the road, although the deficit halved in the final classification after a five-second penalty was applied to Perez’s race time for an unsafe release from his earlier sole pit stop.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri took a distant fourth after spending much of the race unable to find a way past Hamilton, who was one of several drivers not to pit under the Safety Car.

Fernando Alonso capped a strong weekend with fifth place in the remaining Aston Martin, with George Russell sixth for Mercedes ahead of countrymen Bearman in seventh, Norris in eighth and Hamilton in ninth.

Norris, like Hamilton, did not pit under the Safety Car and inherited the lead of the race before being overtaken in the laps after the restart by the Red Bulls and Leclerc.

Nico Hulkenberg, meanwhile, opened Haas’ account for 2024 with the final point after a strong drive to 10th.

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