Motor racing-Verstappen unhappy to settle for second in Saudi Arabia

Formula One F1 - Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - March 19, 2023 Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates with a trophy on the podium after finishing second place in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix REUTERS/Rula Rouhana

(Reuters) - Max Verstappen stayed top of the Formula One world championship in Saudi Arabia on Sunday but was still unhappy at having to settle for second in the race behind Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez.

The Dutch driver paid the price for a drive-shaft failure in Saturday qualifying that left him fighting from 15th on the starting grid in Jeddah while Mexican Perez started on pole position.

"I recovered the second which is good and of course in general the whole feeling in the team, everyone is happy," Verstappen told reporters.

"But personally I am not happy because I am not here to be second, especially when you are working very hard also back at the factory to make sure that you arrive here in a good state and basically making sure that everything is spot on.

"And then you have to do a recovery race, which I like. I don't mind doing it. But when you're fighting for a championship and especially when it looks like it's just between two cars, you have to make sure that also the two cars are reliable."

The double world champion, who won the opening race in Bahrain with Perez second, stayed top overall because he set the fastest lap on his way to the chequered flag.

"It wasn't very easy to get through the field," said Verstappen.

He was second already at half-distance but had a scare when he felt the drive-shaft was running "a bit rough".

"It makes like a weird noise at high speed," he told his race engineer.

Team boss Christian Horner said Red Bull checked the data and found nothing to cause concern, leaving the two drivers free to race.

"I was in second, we had a big gap behind so at one point we decided to just let's say call it a day and just settle for second, which I think anyway was a very good recovery," said Verstappen.

"I gave it a go at the end (for fastest lap) so luckily it worked out."

The champion has now led the standings for 19 races in a row, since the Spanish Grand Prix last May.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Clare Fallon)

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