F1: Perez leads Red Bull 1-2 in Saudi Arabia GP (2nd Update)

–by Mark Cipolloni–

Based on this ruling, Alonso’s 3rd place has been reinstated and the final race standings adjusted below – back to where they were.

March 19, 2023 

–by Mark Cipolloni–

Fernando Alonso has been handed a 10-second penalty by the Stewards for his team touching his car before the 5-second penalty mark was up, which moves George Russell up to third and Alonso back to 4th.

Alonso was handed a 5-second penalty for having his car outside the start box – too far left.

Aston Martin is protesting the penalty. One complaint is that it took officials since lap 18 to serve the penalty, denying Alonso the chance to gap Russell by more than 10 seconds, which given his speed, he could have done.

Conclusion: That was bad officiating, leading many to conclude Toto Wolff still has the FIA in his back pocket. As a result, Alonso loses his 100th career F1 podium.

March 19, 2023 

–by Mark Cipolloni–

Polesitter Sergio Perez lost the lead to Fernando Alonso at the start, stayed behind the Aston Martin for several laps and then used DRS to make the pass for the lead in his Red Bull Honda and led the rest of the way to win the Saudi Arabian GP – the fastest street circuit in the world with average speeds over 155mph.

Max Verstappen started 15th in the #1 Red Bull Honda and moved his way through the field to 2nd place by halfway distance, but that is as far as he would get as Perez controlled the gap to 2nd nicely and took the victory, his 5th in F1.

Had to settle for 2nd on this day, Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 at the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“It turned out to be tougher than expected,” said a thrilled Perez!

“I was on for the victory last year, so finally I got it. The team have worked so hard across the weekend, we had a lot of mechanical issues. We will keep pushing, we were the fastest car out there.”

Race winner Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 19, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen was complaining about a weird noise in the car over the last 15 laps so just stroked it to the end to get the 2nd place points.

Verstappen also took the one point for fastest lap on the final circuit to lead the championship over his teammate by a single point, but it was redemption for last year, as Perez wins from pole in Jeddah.

“Yeah not bad that, good result for the whole team,” said Verstappen to his team over the radio.

“It wasn’t very easy to get through the field, trying to follow was difficult, but very happy to be here on the podium,” said Verstappen.  “We decided to settle for second and call it a day, but it was still a very good recovery.”

Second placed Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 19, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Fernando Alonso held on for the final podium position, his second third place in a row.

“What a start to the season, probably unthinkable,” said an elated Alonso!

“I need to review [the start], I made a mistake, so when they told me I knew I needed to drive even faster. It’s a hard Grand Prix, but I push all the way through like qualifying laps.”

A happy Fernando Alonso, another third place

Before the race Alonso predicted that Verstappen would be 2nd by lap 25.

On lap 25 Verstappen passed Alonso for 2nd, the Spaniard’s prediction fulfilled.

Note: The stewards are investigating whether Aston Martin served that 5-second penalty correctly. If he did – or rather, if a mechanics did start working on the car within those first five stationary seconds, he could get another time penalty.

If he got five seconds – all hypotheticals – he’d keep third. Ten seconds, and Russell would inherit the place.

George Russell out dueled his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton for a solid 4th and 5th for the Silver Arrows.

The Ferraris of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc finished a distant 6th and 7th, almost 40 seconds behind the Red Bulls.

Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top 10.

Nico Hulkenberg took 12th in the sister Haas, as the Alfa Romeo of Zhou Guanyu beat rookie drivers Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri), Oscar Piastri (McLaren) and Logan Sargeant (Williams) to P13.

McLaren endured another tough day at the office after early front wing changes for Piastri, who clashed with Gasly at the start, and Lando Norris, who hit the debris, consigned them to evenings towards the back of the pack.

Attention now turns to the third round of the 2023 F1 season in Australia on April 2nd.

Race Results – 50 Laps

1 Sergio Perez MEX Oracle Red Bull Racing +0.000s
2 Max Verstappen NED Oracle Red Bull Racing +5.355s
3 Fernando Alonso ESP Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant  +20.728s
4 George Russell GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team +25.866s
5 Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team +31.065s
6 Carlos Sainz ESP Scuderia Ferrari +35.876s
7 Charles Leclerc MON Scuderia Ferrari +43.162s
8 Esteban Ocon FRA BWT Alpine F1 Team +52.832s
9 Pierre Gasly FRA BWT Alpine F1 Team +54.747s
10 Kevin Magnussen DEN MoneyGram Haas F1 Team +64.826s
11 Yuki Tsunoda JPN Scuderia AlphaTauri +67.494s
12 Nico Hulkenberg GER MoneyGram Haas F1 Team +70.588s
13 Zhou Guanyu CHN Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake +76.060s
14 Nyck de Vries NED Scuderia AlphaTauri +77.478s
15 Oscar Piastri AUS McLaren F1 Team +85.021s
16 Logan Sargeant USA Williams Racing +86.293s
17 Lando Norris GBR McLaren F1 Team +86.445s
18 Valtteri Bottas FIN Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake +1 Lap
DNF Alex Albon THA Williams Racing DNF
DNF Lance Stroll CAN Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant DNF


Fastest Laps

1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 50 1:31.906 241.838
2 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda 38 1:32.188 241.098
3 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 50 1:32.240 240.962
4 63 George Russell Mercedes 50 1:32.433 240.459
5 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 50 1:32.822 239.451
6 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 47 1:32.941 239.145
7 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 47 1:33.056 238.849
8 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 49 1:33.222 238.424
9 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 44 1:33.374 238.036
10 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 50 1:33.392 237.990
11 21 Nyck De Vries AlphaTauri Honda 49 1:33.609 237.438
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 50 1:33.780 237.005
13 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 49 1:33.894 236.718
14 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda 50 1:33.931 236.624
15 4 Lando Norris Mclaren Mercedes 49 1:34.122 236.144
16 81 Oscar Piastri Mclaren Mercedes 48 1:34.287 235.731
17 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 37 1:34.384 235.489
18 2 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 49 1:34.469 235.277
19 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 7 1:35.140 233.617
20 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 24 1:35.567 232.574