David Croft: ‘Absolutely not an insult to anyone who’s designed that Mercedes’

Max Verstappen retained the championship lead after setting the fastest lap on the final lap of the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP.

Sergio Pérez successfully backed up his pole position at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with an emphatic victory, as Red Bull managed a second consecutive 1-2 of the season due to a fantastic comeback from reigning world champion Max Verstappen.

After initially losing the lead at the opening corner to Fernando Alonso, Pérez quickly regained the lead, with Red Bull’s straight-line speed having been phenomenal at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Pérez’s overtake on Alonso was really the final time he was seen all race, apart from when he restarted the race perfectly following a brief Safety Car period.

Verstappen, on the other hand, had a much more eventful race after starting P15, following his driveshaft failure during qualifying.

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As expected, the Dutchman breezed his way into the top six, before benefitting from the Safety Car period.

The double world champion was one of the last drivers to switch from the medium to the hard compound, with the likes of Ferrari having boxed both of their drivers’ moments before the race’s only Safety Car was brought out.

As a result of pitting during the Safety Car period, Verstappen jumped both Ferrari drivers’ and re-emerged onto the circuit in fourth.

It meant Verstappen had plenty of time to attack the podium places, something he immediately did after overtaking George Russell with ease.

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Verstappen overtook Russell as they approached the final corner, with the Mercedes driver having had absolutely no answer to the Red Bull driver’s rocket ship.

The Dutchman’s straight-line speed was so remarkable, that Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft admitted that it was like watching an F1 car overtake an F2 car.

Croft added that it was “absolutely not an insult to anyone who’s designed that Mercedes”, with Red Bull simply having an unbeatable car and being especially strong with DRS open.

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The Dutchman went on to overtake Alonso just as easily, before cruising home to claim second place and the fastest lap.

“I was in second, we had a big gap behind and so at one point, we decided to just let’s say, call it a day and just settle for second,” Verstappen explained after the race.

“Anyway, it was a good recovery. I gave [fastest lap] a go at the end, and luckily it worked out.”