Alonso Reinstated 3rd, Saudi Arabian GP 2023
March 20, 2023

Red Bull continued their 2023 winning ways, with another 1-2 finish in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but it was Sergio Perez, not Max Verstappen, taking the winner's trophy at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Although Perez won the race, Max Verstappen's fight forward from P15 to his P2 finish took much of the screentime, with the double world champion suffering a driveshaft issue in qualifying to leave him with hard work to do in the race.

Fernando Alonso briefly enjoyed time at the front, stealing P1 from Perez on the short run down to Turn 1 on the first lap to lead a race on Lap 1 for the first time since 2012. The Spaniard's time at the top came amid an investigation about his grid box placement hanging over him after being slightly out of position when the starting lights went out.

Alonso Reinstated 3rd, Saudi Arabian GP 2023

Although the Aston Martin was the second-fastest car in Saudi Arabia, even Alonso couldn't hold back Red Bull's superior pace. Perez eased by Alonso on Lap 4 to regain a lead the Mexican racer kept until the chequered flag.

Verstappen wasn't the only frontrunner starting the race further back than usual, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc taking an engine penalty that had him start the Grand Prix in P12. A bold strategy that had Ferrari fit Leclerc with Pirelli's red-walled soft tyre helped the Monegasque driver overtake three cars on Lap 1, but he still would fall behind the faster Verstappen by the end of his first tyre's stint.

The Verstappen-Leclerc pairing scythed through the midfield runners to reach P5 and P6 by Lap 17 when Leclerc needed fresh rubber, narrowly avoiding an on-track overtake by Verstappen, who was on his rival's rear wing out of the final corner. Frustratingly for Leclerc, he might've advanced even higher than P6 had he waited one lap longer to pit as a safety car period followed shortly after his stop.

Get in touch with our team today

To find out more about our comprehensive range of services, or to book your vehicle in, contact our friendly team of experts today.

Contact us
Alonso Reinstated 3rd, Saudi Arabian GP 2023

Lance Stroll, who looked comfortable in P4 before slipping behind Carlos Sainz and Leclerc through the pit stops, stopped on track with an engine failure. Although the Canadian safely pulled his Aston Martin almost entirely behind the barriers, race control didn't hesitate to bring the safety car out to help marshals move the broken AMR23.

The slowdown worked out perfectly for those who hadn't pitted, such as the Red Bull and Mercedes pairings, but particularly for Alonso, who had to serve a five-second penalty for his earlier grid box penalty. George Russell's stop solidified his P3 position, which he held from the start, while Lewis Hamilton managed to get right on the back of Sainz's P5 for the restart.

After starting on the hard Pirelli tyre, Hamilton ran contrary to others by switching to mediums at his pit stop. The Brit used his fresh rubber to get by Sainz, who was now on hard tyres, shortly after the restart. Hamilton's exit off Turn 2 accellerated him alongside and then past the Ferrari to make it a second P5 finish in a row.

Alonso Reinstated 3rd, Saudi Arabian GP 2023

While Hamilton's short march finished, Verstappen continued surging forwards, first passing Russell into the final corner before reaching P2 with an overtake on Alonso down the main straight at the race's halfway point. Neither Russell nor Alonso attempted any meaningful defence, with the drivers recognising how much work their teams must do to close the gap to match Red Bull's 2023 speed.

Aside from some tense radio messages from the Red Bull pair that suggested all was not harmonious about the finishing order, the race's second half fell flat in the entertainment stakes. Of course, Perez didn't mind, picking up his fifth race win with a five-second margin over his teammate.

A last-gasp Fastest Lap from Verstappen denied Perez the delight of being the first Mexican to lead the F1 championship since 1967. Nevertheless, Perez's latest street circuit win puts him just one point behind Verstappen in the standings going into Melbourne for next weekend's Australian Grand Prix.

Alonso Reinstated 3rd, Saudi Arabian GP 2023