Max Verstappen Outsmarting Victory over Sergio Perez is a fluke says Christian Horner

Max Verstappen won with ‘strategic’ race but Sergio Perez

Christian Horner has said that Max Verstappen produced a “strategic race” to claim his first victory as reigning Formula 1 world champion at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The reason for his assertion is the way Sergio Perez was outsmarted by Max Verstappen to clinch the title as reigning Formula 1 champion.

After both Red Bull drivers had failed to finish the season-opening race in Bahrain, Verstappen got back on track with a strong victory, pipping Charles Leclerc to the win in Jeddah.

The 24-year-old won his first Drivers’ Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December and will again be among the leading contenders as he seeks to contend his crown.

Both the Dutchman and Sergio Perez had suffered engine issues in the first week of the season, and Horner was pleased that Red Bull were able to get back on track and score their first points of the 2022.

“Yes, it was great to rebound after the issues we had and what a great race,” the Red Bull team principal said.

“It was a very strategic race for Max, not taking too much out of the tyres to make sure he had enough to attack at the end, and some great racing between him and Charles; thankfully he had enough to hang on at the end.”

Perez had taken pole position with a strong qualifying performance.

The Mexican had appeared well placed to finish with at least a podium after holding his lead early on, but suffered a moment of misfortune, pitting as scheduled just a single lap before the introduction of the safety car.

Horner described the timing as “desperately unlucky” for a driver who has not finished in the top two at a Grand Prix since claiming his second career F1 victory in Azerbaijan last year.

“[It was] desperately disappointing for [Perez’s nickname] Checo, because, what an incredible lap to get that pole.

“He converted that into the lead, was controlling the race beautifully, we pitted on the lap that was discussed pre-race and then bang: a Safety Car. Sometimes they work for you, sometimes against, and it was unlucky.

“Checo had good pace at the beginning of the stint, was just starting to get tyre deg, we could see Charles [Leclerc, P2] getting within the undercut… then the Safety Car gives the others a free stop – desperately unlucky for Checo.”

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