While Sergio Pérez and Red Bulls weren’t in danger at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday, Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso saw his team and his strategy scuttle him.

Pérez managed to defend the top position for the first time in his career and triumphed more than five seconds ahead of his closest pursuer, teammate Max Verstappen. Third place on the podium went to Alonso if the latter had been able to avoid not one, but two penalties.

As team mechanics could be heard chanting his name to the tune of Seven Nation Army, Alonso threw flowers to his team and the car during a post-race interview. He then took to the podium to celebrate what he believed to be his 100th career podium finish.

“The team has created a great car. She also managed the race to perfection, which allowed us to get a second podium in as many races,” said Alonso before learning that the team had cost him third place.

The 41-year-old started the race from second place on the starting grid and set the tone for the race with a bold strategy. An approach that allowed him to take first place from the start.

However, his illegal position on the starting grid earned him a five-second penalty to retake during the pit stop. And when he made his stop, his team touched the car before the end of the five-second penalty, which led to a second penalty, this time of 10 seconds.

The Spaniard’s second penalty allowed Mercedes’ George Russell to take third place and complete the podium. That wasn’t the only bad news of the day for Aston Martin, which is trying to compete with Ferrari – and potentially Mercedes – for the second constructor title.

Despite an encouraging start for Lance Stroll, the Quebecer saw his race quickly turn sour. He momentarily took 4th place, but a miscalculated pit stop allowed the two Ferrari cars to edge him. Then on lap 16, over the team radio Stroll received the order “stop the car, stop the car immediately”.

At the latest news, it would be his operating system that failed.

Among other results, Lewis Hamilton took 5th place. The Scuderia followed, respectively, with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in 6th and 7th place.

Despite a second victory in as many races for the Red Bulls team, the Mexican’s coronation was not the only story among the defending champions. Whoever experienced a fifth Formula 1 triumph, held the fastest lap until the very end. Literally.

Verstappen showed patience and shook off his 15th starting position to finish second. The Dutchman slowly attacked each opponent – ​​not least thanks to the exit of the safety car which followed Stroll’s retirement – ​​before taking a comfortable lead over Alonso. On the last lap, he decided to step on the accelerator. His 50th and last lap was the good one and took a point from his teammate for the drivers’ classification.

The defending champion therefore passed Pérez by one point in the cumulative after two races. A good player, the Mexican did not seem irritated by Verstappen’s maneuver.

“The important thing is that we were the fastest car. I’m proud of us,” he said.

Verstappen struggled with the car the day before and also had to deal with some technical glitches late in the race. This did not put him off the idea of ​​going for the fastest lap.

“At some point we decided not to go for second place, but to settle for second place,” Verstappen admitted. Which is not so bad under the conditions. […] I tried to do more [to get the fastest lap]. In the end, it worked. »