Perez wins in Saudi Arabia, Alonso achieves 100th podium

Perez wins in Saudi Arabia, Alonso achieves 100th podium

After a dramatic start to the season, it was time to kick off the second round of the 2023 Formula 1 season around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia.

The starting grid

Position Driver Team
1 Sergio Perez Red Bull
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin
3 George Russell Mercedes
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari
5 Lance Stroll Aston Martin
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
8 Oscar Piastri McLaren
9 Pierre Gasly Alpine
10 Nico Hulkenberg Haas
11 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas
14 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo
15 Max Verstappen Red Bull
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri
17 Alexander Albon Williams
18 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri
19 Lando Norris McLaren
20 Logan Sargeant Williams

If you want to know more about what happened during Saturday's qualifying session, check this analysis we've made.

Fernando Alonso took the lead in the race right at the start, with Sergio Perez trying to catch up to him behind. Lance Stroll, in the same lap, overtook Carlos Sainz for P4.

However, despite his strong start, Alonso received a 5-second time penalty for an incorrect starting position a lap later. Then, after three laps, Perez recovered his P1 spot.

Leclerc made up 3 places in the opening laps. The Monegasque found himself stuck in a battle for P7 with Gasly and Hamilton. However, he managed to overtake the Frenchman with DRS on the straight and later went past the 7-time world champion to claim the position on lap 9.

Things dramatically changed when Lance Stroll was told to stop the car at the side of the track on lap 18, bringing out the Safety Car, and allowing drivers like Perez, Alonso, Russell, Verstappen, and Hamilton, all in the top 5, an easy pitstop. Just laps earlier, Sainz and Leclerc had stopped for new tires, so the SC definitely stirred things up.

The race restarted on lap 20 with Perez leading the pack ahead of Alonso (who served his penalty during the SC pitstop) and Russell. The Mexican managed to keep his lead despite the attacks from behind. Verstappen then caught up to the Mercedes and overtook him three laps later.

The battle of the titans

After going past Russell, Verstappen finally caught up to second-placed Fernando Alonso, starting a fight for the position on lap 24. The Spaniard had had a good run until then despite his start penalty but had no chance against Red Bull's superior performance.

The Dutch driver managed to overtake the Aston Martin on the straight and with DRS, making it a Red Bull 1-2 with Perez at the top.

The race at the front continued without much change - it was Sergio Perez who took the win, with Max Verstappen behind and Fernando Alonso in third place, taking his second podium of the season.

A disappointing result

Ferrari didn't manage to challenge the Mercedes drivers, less the Aston Martins, though Stroll retired early.

Carlos Sainz finished the race in P6 behind Hamilton and Russell. It is two positions lower than when he started. His teammate, Charles Leclerc, finished behind him in 7th place - so, while the Monegasque did make up positions after starting P12, it is certainly not the result he was hoping for after qualifying in second place pre-penalty on Saturday.

Of course, their performance is not the only factor. A Safety Car came into play with the retirement of the Aston Martin, which did not benefit the Ferraris since they had pitted just a few laps before the incident, giving the advantage to those in front. Leclerc was also heard having heated radio messages with his engineer Xavi about their strategy and communication.

Overall, it ends up being another disappointing weekend for the Scuderia, which started the season with high hopes but quickly went downhill from day 1.

McLaren: Nightmare material

It wasn't an easy race for the papaya-colored team. Both Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris had to pit at the start of the race after damaging their front wings. Then, they struggled to make up places through the race.

Norris finished P17, only ahead of Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas who finished last (after retirements). Oscar Piastri, on the other hand, finished two places ahead of his British teammate, only ahead of Logan Sargeant and behind Nyck de Vries.

Stick around! The Team in Focus of this weekend is coming Tuesday, also with an in-depth race analysis. Make sure to subscribe to access all of our content!