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Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Oliver Bearman impresses as Max Verstappen wins again

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Oliver Bearman impresses as Max Verstappen wins again

Oliver Bearman perfectly executed his Formula One debut as Max Verstappen won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Having secured a Red Bull 1-2 in Bahrain to open the 2024 season, the defending world champions looked good value to repeat the feat from lap one as Verstappen launched off the line and Sergio Perez battled Charles Leclerc.

The Ferrari driver held on for a short while before succumbing to the Mexican’s pace, but complications arose via Lance Stroll’s crash on the seventh lap - which drew out the safety car.

Perez’s unsafe release from an early pit stop in front of Fernando Alonso resulted in a five-second penalty as the bulk of the frontrunners changed to the hard tyres. However, he would cruise home in second behind Verstappen with a sizeable lead over Leclerc.

Only Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton stayed out, leaving the McLaren briefly in the lead at the restart before Verstappen’s tyres warmed up and he reeled him in to return to first place.

The duo remained a thorn in the side of the top five while they ran their first stint deep, Norris holding off Leclerc for third until lap 27 and Hamilton defending fifth place off Oscar Piastri until the Mercedes pitted on lap 37.

On his debut, Bearman enjoyed an early battle with Yuki Tsunoda before swooping past Zhou Guanyu and Nico Hulkenberg, both on older tyres, to settle into ninth place.

With Hamilton and Norris pitting for fresh soft tyres ahead of the final ten laps, they set about chasing the Ferrari teenager down.

However, the 18-year-old held on to secure seventh place and six points on his F1 debut having held Norris off with a lead of over two seconds.

Kevin Magnussen was slapped with not one but two ten-second time penalties, the first for walking Alex Albon into the barrier and the second for overtaking Tsunoda off the track, as drivers learned the stricter baseline punishment for infringements - double from the previous norm of five seconds.

However, his hold-up routine on a long DRS train of backmarkers ensured Hulkenberg took 10th place and the final points position.