Sergio Perez thinks that there could be three teams challenging Red Bull at the 2023 Formula 1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.
The reigning constructors champions were dominant at the Bahrain GP with the Mexican following teammate Max Verstappen home for a comfortable one-two finish. The closest finisher to Red Bull was Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin after Charles Leclerc failed to finish from an easy third.
But with the Jeddah Corniche Circuit being a very different challenge to the Sakhir International Circuit, Perez expects to see Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes in his mirrors for the second round of the season.
“We certainly believe that Ferrari I going to be very strong,” Perez told the media. “Aston Martin and Mercedes should be a lot closer to us because the requirements are very different here.”
Early Red Bull advantage
Red Bull suffered mechanical problems at the beginning of 2022 but the shoe was on the other foot at the start of 2023. Ferrari had to change Leclerc’s battery store before the race in Bahrain only for it to fail yet again when the race began.
The Monagasque driver will now have to serve a 10-place grid penalty at the Saudi Arabian GP having had to install a third battery store of the season with the limit for all 23 races being only two.
That puts Red Bull at an early advantage over their nearest rivals before even mentioning the speed they had at Bahrain that saw nobody get anywhere near troubling them. Even Aston Martin‘s pre-season form, which carried over into the real deal, could not get them on par with the bulls.
But this is a different kettle of fish entirely and Perez may be right to be worried if the slow corners and high-degradation nature of Bahrain have failed to show off the best of their rivals.