Sergio Perez robbed of championship lead by Max Verstappen

Sergio Pérez's victory in Saudi Arabia was his fourth for Red Bull and his first at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Sergio Pérez emphatically claimed his first win of the 2023 F1 season at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, after a dominant display from pole position.

The Mexican did initially lose the lead to Fernando Alonso at the opening corner of the race but was soon back past the Spaniard when DRS was activated.

From that moment onwards, Pérez was seemingly in cruise control, with the Mexican having eased away from the rest of the field.

His advantage was broken following a Safety Car, though, which brought team-mate Max Verstappen back into contention for the win.

READ: Revealed: Red Bull were concerned about Max Verstappen reliability ahead of Saudi GP

This didn’t faze Pérez at all, with the 33-year-old having restarted the race beautifully, before building a five-second advantage.

Whilst Verstappen did work his way into second, the gap remained between five and six seconds for the entirety of the second half of the race, with the pair having consistently exchanged the fastest lap of the race.

Pérez and Verstappen didn’t need to go as fast as they were, with the pair having both risked a potential mechanical failure by lapping at an extraordinary pace.

Both drivers were keen for the fastest lap and the additional point that comes with it; however, Red Bull effectively told both drivers not to worry about setting the fastest lap as the race reached its climax.

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As the final lap began, Pérez held the fastest lap and was looking set to claim the victory and the championship lead, only for Verstappen to defy the team and claim the fastest lap.

As a result, Verstappen maintained his championship lead by a single point, seemingly to the annoyance of Pérez.

The pair shared an awkward moment in the cooldown room after the race.

In the cooldown room, Perez asked Verstappen if he got fastest lap at the end, to which the Dutchman replied yes.

They then awkwardly looked at each other, with the Mexican clearly not too pleased.

Perez arguably had every reason to be frustrated with Verstappen’s antics, given that the Dutchman was told that the fastest lap wasn’t a concern after asking what time he needed to set.

The Mexican actually questioned why himself and Verstappen were pushing so hard in the closing laps, with Checo having explained after his victory why he asked the team why they were purposefully pushing so hard despite boasting a sizeable advantage.

“Obviously they have more information than us, and I think the team did a fantastic job on letting us race,” Pérez told Autosport.

“I just felt like there was a point where, for the last 10 laps or so, that we had very similar pace within a 10, faster or slower.

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

“And I just felt like the gap [if both continued to push] would have been probably a little bit less or a little bit more, but it wouldn’t have changed anything.

“I was just thinking about the car; I was having some strange vibrations and obviously what happened to Max [in qualifying] was on the back of my mind today.

“I’m sure it was on the back of the mind of the team as well. So it was just a matter of making sure both cars finished to get maximum points.”