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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Verstappen can nonetheless win Saudi Arabian GP from fifteenth, say F1 rivals

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The Dutchman starts down in 15th on the grid in Jeddah after a driveshaft failure in Q2 meant he didn’t make it by way of to the ultimate qualifying shootout.

Whereas a restoration from to this point down the order is not going to be straightforward, the truth that Purple Bull seems to have such a tempo benefit over the opposition nonetheless makes Verstappen a menace to the frontrunners.

Though Verstappen himself has performed down the prospects of getting concerned within the combat for victory, his rivals are satisfied about his potential.

Requested if he believed Verstappen may win, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff mentioned: “I feel he has a lot tempo that he has a second in hand, roughly.

“I feel he can do this. It’s 50 laps, 50 seconds. We have seen it from Lewis [Hamilton] up to now.”

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Fernando Alonso, who begins from second on the grid and is the primary menace to pole place man Sergio Perez, doesn’t suppose that he can ignore what Verstappen will get as much as.

“I feel Max will come ultimately within the race, you realize,” mentioned Alonso, who pointed to races like Russia in 2021 when Verstappen began twentieth and completed second that present sturdy recoveries are potential.

“They’ve this benefit. I do not know which race it was that he began final, so he modified the ability unit and nonetheless completed P2 and even received the race. So, I feel there is no such thing as a doubt that he will probably be within the podium, most likely minimal.”

Max Verstappen, Purple Bull Racing

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Mercedes driver George Russell, who strains up third on the grid, mentioned he hoped to be concerned within the battle on the entrance however accepts that he will probably be combating Verstappen sooner or later.

“I feel we are able to positively combat for a podium,” he defined. “Aston Martin and Ferrari possibly have a tenth or two on us, however we’re beginning forward of each of them so there’s no motive why we are able to’t combat for a podium.

“I feel Max goes to come back by way of fairly comfortably, except there’s any incidents or maintain ups.”

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Perez additionally is aware of he can not low cost Verstappen coming by way of to combat him for the win, and mentioned he hoped that early clear air may assist him eke out a good benefit.

“I’m not going to strategy the race excited about Max,” mentioned the Mexican.

“Initially, I’ve to ensure I will hold the lid on the preliminary laps. And if I am in a position to do this, to maintain this lion [Fernando Alonso] behind, it is going to be good, as a result of I feel I can deal with my race.”

Extra reporting by Matt Kew and Jake Boxall-Legge

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