The Formula 1 season for 2023 is up and running, and the size of the task in front of the chasing pack is already looking incredibly daunting. Red Bull stretched their lead at the top of the Constructors’ standings after a third straight race win in Melbourne, with Max Verstappen winning a chaotic race at Albert Park. However, the only race in which we have seen Verstappen fail to win so far this season came on the streets of Jeddah, as the entertaining Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was won by Sergio Perez. It wasn’t a result that was favored by many of the Middle East Sports betting sites, but one that could at least threaten to lead to a race for the Drivers’ Championship this term.
Perez Wins On The Streets In Saudi
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will go down as one of the best drives of Sergio Perez’s career, as the Mexican landed a fifth race win. The victory continues to highlight the Mexican’s strengths on street circuits, as he previously claimed victories at the Monaco Grand Prix and Singapore Grand Prix last season. It was one of Perez’s strongest drives, as he battled back after losing the lead at the start to regain the advantage on the fourth lap. However, it wasn’t the easiest race win that the Red Bull driver has achieved during his career. After 17 laps, Perez had built up a 20-second lead, but the safety car was brought out following an incident with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin.
As the race restarted, the pack closed in on the Mexican driver, with Verstappen making an impressive comeback from his low grid position to secure fourth place. Despite this, Perez quickly resumed the lead and built up a comfortable five-second gap before Verstappen eventually climbed up to second. While Perez had initially held the fastest lap, Verstappen managed to snatch it from him, allowing him to maintain his lead in the Drivers’ standings.
Confusion Following Race
After the race had concluded there was no shortage of confusion surrounding the finishing order behind the Red Bull pair. Fernando Alonso was the third across the line, but Mercedes believed that the Spanish driver would be handed a second five-second time penalty, meaning that George Russell would be promoted to third on the podium. F1 made the announcement after the celebrations that Russell would finish third, before later reversing the decision to hand the Spanish driver a second straight podium finish since his switch to Aston Martin. However, there was no such joy for Stroll in the other Aston Martin, as he was forced to retire early in the race with a technical issue.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was another renewed effort for Mercedes, as George Russell eventually finished fourth, with Lewis Hamilton taking fifth. However, they have an almighty challenge to get back to challenging for the titles, as Russell finished over 25 seconds behind Perez. It was once again a solid strategy that played into Mercedes’ hands, as they were able to pit after the Ferrari pair under the safety car.
In the race to finish second in the Constructors’ standings, Mercedes certainly looks the most encouraging. It was a damning weekend for Ferrari, as they lacked the race pace to truly test the cars ahead of them. Carlos Sainz was the quicker of the two, as he eventually finished sixth in the standings, but that was over four seconds behind Hamilton. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc finished a place further back in seventh, and over eight seconds behind his teammate.
Remaining Cars In The Points
Aside from the cars chasing for the top places in the Constructors’ standings, it was a solid weekend in Saudi Arabia for Alpine. Esteban Ocon finished eighth in the classification, while teammate Pierre Gasly concluded the race in ninth overall. That was a solid finish in their battle for fourth, especially given that Stroll failed to finish the race in the other Aston Martin. The final point was picked up by Kevin Magnussen in his Haas, with his teammate finishing down in 12th. It was another weekend to forget for McLaren, as they failed to pick up a single point for the second straight race weekend. Landon Norris finished down in 17th, while Oscar Piastri could only finish 15th in the overall race standings.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was quickly followed by the Australian Grand Prix, which was won in a chaotic fashion by Verstappen. There is now a break in the action, with F1 set to resume in Europe on April 30, as the next street circuit on the calendar sees drivers compete at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.