Max Verstappen claims first win of F1 season after enthralling battle with Charles LeClerc at Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

    Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after winning the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

    (CNN)Reigning world champion Max Verstappen won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday after a thrilling battle with Charles LeClerc.

    The Red Bull driver, second for most of the race, took the lead with just a few laps to go and never relinquished it.
    Just like in Bahrain last week, the pair were locked together in an enthralling battle, with the final 10 laps of the race in Jeddah making for gripping watching.
      The victory is Verstappen's first of the 2022 season, having not finished in Bahrain last week.
        Ferrari made up the rest of the podium with LeClerc in second and Carlos Sainz in third.
        The race came on a difficult weekend for F1, after missile strikes on an oil storage facility near the track by Yemen's Houthi rebels.
        24-year-old Verstappen called it a "really tough race but a good race."
          "We were both battling hard at the front. We just tried to play the long game," Verstappen said.
          "They were really quick through corners and we were really quick on the straight. The tires were wearing out quite quick. You could see by the end we had a little bit more pace.
          "I tried to get by, it wasn't easy, they were playing smart tricks in the last corner, but eventually I managed to get ahead. Even after that he was constantly in the DRS.
          "Really happy we finally kick-started the season."
          Verstappen celebrates on the podium after winning the Saudi GP.

          To and fro

          Having earned his country's first-ever pole position, Sergio Perez made a perfect start on Sunday. The Mexican was quick off the line, blocking off second-placed LeClerc as well as maintaining his lead.
          However, his dream race soon began to unravel.
          An apparent fake pit from Ferrari meant Red Bull chose to pit Perez -- losing places -- just moments before Nicholas Latifi crashed, causing a safety car to come out which allowed other drivers to pit themselves.
          It meant when the safety car left the track, LeClerc lead, followed by Verstappen with Perez down in fourth after giving up his third spot for a pit lane violation.
          And with no obstructions ahead of him, the Monegasque driver continued his excellent pace in 2022, having won the opening race of the season in Bahrain last weekend.
          The 24-year-old managed to hold off a flying Verstappen until a virtual safety car was called into place in the 38th lap after two cars both lost drive near the pit lane.
          After the second safety car of the race was stopped, just like in Bahrain last week, the two young stars did battle once again.
          They went back and forth, with Verstappen getting his nose in front, only for LeClerc to come roaring back.
          Verstappen drives in front of LeClerc.