It’s race two of the F1 2023 calendar and we’re back in the Middle East after Max Verstappen‘s win in Bahrain a fortnight ago. The reigning world champion, though, has it all to do to reach the podium again. A driveshaft failure during qualifying means Verstappen will start in 15th place, though no one is expecting him to stay there long after he dominated every practice session.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez earned pole position, like he did in Jeddah last year, and is joined by Fernando Alonso on the front row. Mercedes driver George Russell will start in P3 but his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton lines up in seventh and after qualifying said he doesn’t “feel connected to this car”.
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is known to be relatively easy for overtaking, so expect plenty of action. Follow it all with our dedicated live blog below, with expert insight and analysis from Matt Majendie at the track!
Perez holds off before darting into the distance.
Russell has a go at Alonso but stays third as Verstappen keeps his distance.
Safety car ending
We’re about to go racing again in Jeddah…
Tsunoda is another beneficiary of that safety car and is running eighth before the two Alpines.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Lap 20/50
With all the others cars going so slowly, that five-second penalty was somewhat dampened for Alonso and he comes out second.
Russell third, Verstappen fourth and Sainz fifth.
Hamilton pits for Mediums and drops back in between the Ferrari pair, in sixth, which is a very decent result for Mercedes!
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Lap 19/50
Who will dive into the pits, then?
Perez is first through for Hards as Red Bull double-stack their drivers.
Alonso also drops by for that five-second penalty before his tyre change.
A mega chance for those who have not yet pitted.
“Stop the car, stop on track!” the Canadian is out!
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Lap 17/50
Verstappen is now on the tail of Leclerc and strolls up towards the inside line ahead of the main straight, deliberately not making the overtake so he can get another DRS burst on the long run into turn one.
No issues though as Leclerc pits for new tyres, dropping in between Sainz and Stroll as the Aston loses another position!
More pit stops
Now Sainz comes in with fresh Hards strapped on, the Ferrari coming out comfortably ahead of Stroll.
The overcut winning out over the undercut so far…
Into the pits comes Stroll from fourth, prompting Sainz to stay out despite the Ferrari mechanics heading out with their wheel guns.
The Aston is back out in 11th on the Hard tyres.
Matt Majendie in Jeddah
Lewis Hamilton’s mood in the paddock after qualifying on Saturday was not a particularly good one.
At a loss to explain why George Russell was so much quicker then he was in the W14, that mood won’t have been lifted by the team’s tyre strategy for this race.
He’s getting no love on the hard tryes and is easy prey for anyone behind him, Max Verstappen most recently.