Formula I: Your Recap of Saudi Arabia 2023

5 mins read

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend started off strong with Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) taking the lead on the first corner. The Spaniard was given a 5-second penalty for failing to line up in his grid slot at the start of the race.

By lap four, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez took the lead; he had started in pole position after the qualifying round on Saturday, March 18, followed by Charles Leclerc and Alonso.

Following the last race in Bahrain, Red Bull finished on top again with a 1-2 finish.

This is Perez’s fifth career victory and the only time he has won with teammate Max Verstappen trailing in second place.

“It turned out to be tougher than expected. That Safety Car… we really did a job in the first stint, but that Safety Car again tried to take the victory from us in Jeddah, but not this time! I was owed a victory last year, so I finally got it.

The team did a fantastic job. The job they’ve done, they’ve worked so hard during the week, we’ve had a lot of mechanical issues and these guys have been on top of that. I’m really happy for them and it’s time to celebrate.”

– Sergio Perez, Red Bull; Formula 1

Max Verstappen climbed quickly to the podium, finishing in second position after Perez. The Red Bull driver started in P15 after suffering a driveshaft issue during qualifying. In Lap 14, Verstappen slid through the cars taking P6 and in lap 25 he steadied himself into P2.

It is no shocker then that Verstappen won ‘Salesforce driver of the day’ after climbing 13 positions and gaining the bonus point for fastest lap in Saudi Arabia on his very last lap. The driver had a voting percentage of 26.3% compared to Perez and Alonso who had less than 20% of the population vote.

Not so luckily, two drivers were struck by car issues. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) on lap 18 and Alex Albon (Williams) on lap 27 retired from the race due to energy recovery issues and brake malfunctions, respectively.

The yellow flag signalling the Safety Car was deployed forcing the drivers to slow down. Some, like Perez, took the opportunity of a free pit stop and a change of tires. At this point Alonso and his team took his 5-second penalty and a pit stop.

A team miscommunication caused Leclerc (Ferrari) to miss out on a free pitstop after his opponent Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).

By lap 21, the race restarted with Perez in the lead.

Image credit: F1

This was an unfortunate weekend for team Ferrari, who dealt with various technical issues. One caused Leclerc to take a 10-place grid penalty after he installed a new third electronics control unit to his SF23. The driver started in P12.

Both drivers, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc pitted before the Safety Car was instated, with their rivals taking the opportunity to pit with the extra time. The two finished one behind the other in P6 and P7.

“It’s difficult to take positives when you are P6 and P7. Especially the stint, when you are all fair and square in pace and the top three cars all pulled away. So it’s difficult to take a positive.”

– Carlos Sainz, Ferrari; Formula 1
Image credit: F1

In the final lap, Alonso was given a ten-second penalty by the FIA leading to his decline off the podium and George Russel’s promotion to third. The penalty was thereafter rescinded for reasons yet to come with next week’s race. Alonso took back third position, securing his 100th career podium place.

Verstappen currently maintains the championship lead with 44 points. Perez in second with 43, and Alonso in third with 30 points.

We’re yet to see if this winning streak for Red Bull will continue, but only time will tell with the next upcoming grand prix in two weeks.

Image credit: F1

The full results of the Saudi Arabian grand prix can be found on the official Formula 1 website.

The next race is the 2023 Australian Grand Prix, taking place at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit from March 31 to April 2.

Feature Image Credit: F1

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