Although Fernando Alonso will be giving Sergio Perez plenty to worry about into Turn 1 of the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP, both will be conscious of the progress of Max Verstappen, who starts 15th following a driveshaft failure in Q2.
Previously Verstappen had come from 14th on the grid to win last year’s Belgian GP, and with Red Bull dominating all three practice sessions, the reigning champion still has a chance of taking victory.
“We certainly have a good car,” Perez told the press after qualifying. “It’s probably where we are a little bit better than the competition, but yeah, it depends. Our race pace was very strong on Friday, so we’ll see.
“Hopefully, for the team, we [can] come back and get maximum points because these weekends are very important. The competition [is] only going to get closer.
“I am not going to approach the race tomorrow thinking about Max. I have to make sure I’m able to keep the lid on the initial laps. If I’m able to do that, I think I can focus on my race.”
A fan of Jeddah
Sergio Perez praised the Jeddah Corniche‘s circuit ability to bring the maximum out of a Formula 1 car after securing pole position for Sunday’s 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Perez, who had secured his maiden F1 pole in the 2022 Saudi GP, repeated his heroics in Saturday’s qualifying session producing a lap over two-tenths quicker than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc’s best time.
“Jeddah, I enjoy [quite] a lot,” said Perez.
“When you have a good car that you can push around this place, you really feel the F1 cars coming alive and getting a clean, good lap, you know, when you nail it.
“The Q3 run one was quite a good jump. I had a good jump from all my previous laps, and that meant I was able to get the pole.”
Second lap ruined by Turn 1 lock up
Although Red Bull and Perez had the pace to improve on their first time, the Mexican was unable to after ruining his second lap at Turn 1.
Perez was one of several drivers caught out by Turn 1 and Turn 2 as Nyck De Vries, Logan Sargeant and Fernando Alonso all hit trouble at the first couple of corners.
“I just had a front lock going into Turn 1,” explained Perez. “[In] Turn 1 and Turn 2, it was so easy just to lose two-tenths straightaway there, especially with the low downforce that we’re running.
“Just nailing that combination of corners will require a lot of temperature on our tyres as well, so yeah, just in general, getting that lap, nailing [it], was really nice.”