Sergio Perez took victory in the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as he led home a second Red Bull 1-2 in two races, though Max Verstappen retains the Formula 1 world championship lead.
Three drivers scored their first points of the season and after a lengthy back-and-forth process, Fernando Alonso completed the podium ahead of George Russell.
Alonso isn’t included in our list – though he was briefly in the losers before he recovered his third place – but he deserves a mention for becoming just the sixth driver to score 100 podiums in F1. Bonus points if you can name the other five.
Winner: Sergio Perez
The obvious place to start, Perez took the fifth victory of his F1 career – and the fourth on a street track – and it never really looked in doubt.
His pole lap wasn’t the quickest it could’ve been but was still good enough in the Saturn V Red Bull, and his only real slip of the weekend was off the startline, which he quickly rectified.
After the safety car he was able to build the a gap to the rest of the pack and Verstappen was never able to get close enough to challenge. How much of that was down to Verstappen backing off fearing damage to his car?
That’s uncertain but the Dutchman was able to put significant time into Perez when pushing at the end, so he probably could’ve given Perez a harder time and is unlucky to to have his own section here.
But we can’t have 50% of the winners be from one team so he’ll just have to settle for Driver of the Day and a footnote here.
On the list of Ferrari tactical mistakes over the years this doesn’t even scratch the surface, but both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were caught out after pitting before the safety car.
After Hamilton passed the Spaniard with a neat move in the first sector, it was a quiet afternoon for both Ferraris, but they’ll have to be disappointed with the way the first two races have gone.
Leclerc put in his customary fantastic qualifying performance and really seems like he can extract everything out of the Ferrari SF-23, but Sainz looked off all weekend.
He was in trouble in both Q1 and Q2 before he pulled out laps late on to haul himself into Q3, where he was half a second behind Leclerc.
After a weird weekend in Bahrain, Alpine put it all together this time around.
This seasons they appear to be on their own island, adrift of the frontrunners but clear of the likes of Alfa Romeo and Haas, so reaching Q3 with both drivers and scoring a double-points finish is really the benchmark for their success.
They managed that in Jeddah led by Esteban Ocon, with Pierre Gasly finishing well clear of the battle for tenth. It’s a shame because Alpine aren’t really that much worse than 2022 when they enjoyed regular top six finishes, but this year eighth, ninth and tenth looks the best they can hope for week-to-week.
Loser: Logan Sargeant
Sargeant had a great opening weekend in Bahrain, but he crashed back to earth on the streets of Jeddah.
He put in a good first qualifying lap and lost it by the smallest of margins, but that seemed to derail his whole weekend.
He had a couple more attempts to get out of Q1 but he couldn’t hook it up either time, and on race day he lost a few positions quickly including a mugging by Nyck de Vries.
Yuki Tsunoda underwent a similar opening two races to his F1 career, Sargeant will hope he can get back on track quicker than the AlphaTauri man and after Alex Albon‘s brake failure it ended up a tough weekend for Williams as a whole.
Winner: Kevin Magnussen
Haas are on the board! The team lost out in Bahrain after Nico Hulkenberg‘s heroics to reach Q3 but it was the Magnussen show in Jeddah.
Loser: Nyck de Vries
This is harsh on De Vries, but it’s more a vessel to cover AlphaTauri‘s weird weekend.
De Vries already looks on the back foot in F1. It’s a shame because he very clearly has talent and he’s worked harder than most to force his break but he’s being outqualified, outraced and outshone by his teammate and isn’t helped by the absolute dog of a car AlphaTauri have given him.
Meanwhile, Tsunoda would’ve taken Magnussen‘s slot as a winner had he held on at the end. Given how uncompetitive the AT04 looks, he’d done fantastically to even be in with a shout of points, but that point would’ve been so so valuable to his team.
Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes and Alpine are clearly a step above the bottom half of the grid and will expect to lock out the top 10 every weekend so points will really be at a premium for teams like AlphaTauri, so this is really one that got away.
Winner: George Russell
This was exactly the weekend Russell needed. He looked frustrated as he was unable to make headway in the Bahrain GP but Jeddah saw Russell back to his best.
He was clearly the best Mercedes driver as Lewis Hamilton struggled particularly in qualifying, admitting he’s still not clicked with the W14.
Meanwhile Russell did a good job to line up third on the grid, and then maximised what he could get out of the race as Mercedes continue to rebuild in 2023.
He did well to keep pace with Alonso – though the Spaniard showed he was managing the gap when he put the hammer down late on – and if Russell had come away with the podium it certainly wouldn’t have been undeserving.