Max Verstappen admits to playing ‘smart tricks’ to pip rival Charles Leclerc in Formula One thriller in Saudi Arabia

MAX VERSTAPPEN admitted he dive deep into his box of ‘tricks’ to outwit Charles Leclerc in Saudi Arabia.

The reigning world champion, 24, was forced to work hard for his first win of the season thanks to Leclerc.

Max Verstappen admitted he needed ‘smart tricks’ to finally outwit Charles Leclerc and win the Saudi Arabian GPCredit: Splash

Verstappen eventually managed to pass the Ferrari star, also 24, with just four laps of the 50 to go.

But not before a long, tactical battle with the pair trades places over and over again during the controversial race in Jeddah, which took place just days after a terror attack six miles away from the track.

And now, Verstappen has revealed how he finally got past Leclerc to keep up the pressure on the F1 championship leader – with a demoralised Lewis Hamilton down in tenth.

Reflecting on the thrilling finale, Verstappen said: “It was a really tough but good race.

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“We were battling hard at the front and we (Red Bull) just tried to play the long game.

“They (Ferrari) were really quick through corners, we were quick on the straight, but the tyres were wearing out quite quick around here.

“You could see at the end we had a bit more pace, so I just tried to get by.

“It wasn’t easy, playing smart tricks in the last corner, but eventually I managed to get ahead.”

Verstappen failed to finish the 2022 season opener in Bahrain with a mechanical problem when seemingly certain to bag a podium spot.

Leclerc ran out winner in that race, with the Ferrari man still top of the drivers’ championship for now.

But, after the race, Leclerc admitted he was ‘disappointed’ to concede the win to Verstappen.

The Monegasque racer said: “It wasn’t enough today, but I really enjoyed that race.

“It is hard racing but fair. And every race should be like this.

“I wanted to win today. Max did a great job.

“I was pushing like I have rarely pushed before, to the absolute limit, but of course there is respect.

“However, I am disappointed.”

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