The Saudi Arabian GP, second race of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship, live:
Fernando Alonso mocks Sergio Perez’s Red Bull at the start of the Saudi Arabian GP, but the Spanish driver of Aston Martin is penalized by five seconds by the race commission for incorrect positioning on the starting grid. The Iberian, therefore, must give first place to Perez. George Russell’s Mercedes is in third position followed by Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin and Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, while the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc is in ninth position. An uphill race also for Max Verstappen: the Dutchman from Red Bull is eleventh in the initial stages of the GP.
After 11 of the 50 scheduled laps, Perez has an advantage over Alonso of more than 2 seconds. Spotlights on Leclerc and Verstappen: the Ferrari of the Monegasque and the Red Bull of the world champion, thanks to the first pit stops, climb up to fifth and sixth position.
A mechanical problem forces Stroll to retire: the Aston Martin remains on the trajectory, the intervention of the safety car is needed which freezes the race after the first round of pit stops. Perez paces ahead of Alonso after 20 out of 50 laps, Verstappen finds himself fourth in front of Sainz’s Ferrari while Leclerc is sixth behind Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
When the GP turns on again, Perez says goodbye to the company and tries the draw. The Mexican quickly gains 4 seconds on Alonso, while Verstappen with the other Red Bull remains bottled up behind Russell’s Mercedes. The Dutchman put his wings on from the 23rd lap and in a couple of laps he fell behind his teammate who was leading the race. The GP quickly becomes a matter reserved for the two Red Bull drivers, who lap under 1’33” while Alonso loses ground. The Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc float in the points, with no real podium ambitions.
The last portion of the race is monopolized by the Red Bull duel. Perez doesn’t give up, he responds to Verstappen’s times while maintaining an impeccable pace. From the 36th lap, however, the world champion tries to accelerate further: in a single lap (1’32″249) the world champion gains almost half a second and reduces the gap to 4”5. The Dutchman’s comeback, however , an intention remains: Verstappen complains via radio for the non-impeccable functioning of the transmission, already ‘guilty’ of the knockout in Saturday’s qualifying. Perez thanks him (1’32″188) and starts the last 10 laps as master of the situation The Mexican continues to push, Verstappen doesn’t get close while Alonso navigates without jolts in third position.