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Fastest Lap and a Podium Finish for Leclerc in Saudi Arabia

It’s 2 podiums on the run for Ferrari, the first in the season opener in Bahrain and now in Saudi Arabia with Charles Leclerc’s comfortable third place finish.

It was a strong performance even if nowhere strong enough to rein in Red Bull’s dominance.

It all started in Qualifying where Leclerc qualified second on the front-row of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Alongside pole-sitter Max Verstappen, it was the fifth straight race the duo have qualified first and second.

That came after a first Q3 lap in which the Monégasque was 0.8 seconds slower than Verstappen with the Ferrari managing to eat away at that gap to just 0.319s down on his second attempt.

The first lap in Q3, Charles had tried something different which didn’t work out. But on the second lap, he put everything together.

It’s as good as it gets given that the Red Bull car is faster overall.

With the scorching desert sun beating down on the Jeddah circuit, in the race proper Leclerc then ably demonstrated his prowess behind the wheel. He managed to roar to a commendable third-place finish in this Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. It’s a positive sign and a fair testament to Ferrari’s attempt at resurgence.

From P2 on the grid the only negative is that Ferrari remained still in the trail of the formidable Max Verstappen. And the Red Bull cars are so fast that Sergio Perez, even with a five second penalty was able to make it one two for Verstappen/Perez, 18 seconds ahead of Leclerc.

But Charles showed he could not only secure the third coveted spot on the podium but also clinched an additional bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

A New Kid on the Block

However, it wasn’t just Leclerc who left a mark on the Saudi Arabian asphalt. Debutant Oliver Bearman turned heads with a remarkable seventh-place finish, stepping in for Sainz who had an appendix operation. Leclerc was gracious in his praise of the rookie who at 18 years old is the youngest driver to ever make his debut in Formula 1 at the wheel of a Ferrari and in future may even be hot on the Monegasque’s heels.

Reflecting on the race, Leclerc was obviously pleased with the improvements made with his car, the SF-24, but admitted to finding the event somewhat lacking in excitement due to Verstappen’s dominant display.

It was in fact all Max Verstappen again in this second race of the Formula One season in Saudi Arabia. Verstappen looked untouchable as he won his ninth consecutive race and the 56th of his career.

The only blip was an early safety car when Lance Stroll slammed into the barriers at Turn 23 forcing Verstappen to sacrifice the lead for six laps when he pitted and McLaren’s Lando Norris stayed out, but it only served as a pause on his way to a comfortable victory.

Leclerc Third in the Driver Standings

As the dust settled, Leclerc’s podium finish served as a statement of Ferrari’s resurgence. They are at least positioning themselves as Red Bull’s primary contender. Leclerc now sits third in the Driver Standings, with 28 points to Pérez’s 36 and Verstappen’s 51.

In the Constructor Standings Ferrari snatched a strong second spot, with 49 points. In the lead is Red Bull on 87 while McLaren on 28 points is third.

The next Grand Prix is in a few weeks in Melbourne, Australia, on the Albert Park Circuit on Sunday 24th March. Go Charles!

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