Sergio Perez the winner of the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Sergio Perez won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, leading the home Red Bull 1-2 ahead of a charging Max Verstappen.

After being pulled off the grid by Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin, Perez made his way to the front on the fourth lap and pulled away, while team-mate Verstappen struggled from the starting 15th after a drive shaft failure in qualifying.

Verstappen raced up to fourth place before getting the safety car when Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin stopped. He quickly separated those in front and sat behind Perez at half the distance.

The Red Bulls were a second lap faster than their rivals in the closing stages, but Verstappen reported a driveshaft problem at high speed and was unable to do anything about his team-mate during the second half of the race.

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Results of the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP

How the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix unfolded

Perez was unable to maintain his pole position advantage off the grid, as Alonso – who received a 5-second penalty for lining up too far to the left of his grid position – sped past him into the first corner. George Russell ran third for Mercedes, ahead of Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and Stroll, with the latter making a great move around the outside of the Ferrari at Turn 13.

Lewis Hamilton, the only driver in the top 10 to start on hard tyres, dropped to seventh in his Mercedes. Charles Leclerc from Ferrari started 12thth after receiving a 10-place penalty for changing his engine management electronics and using soft tires to gain three places in the first tour. Verstappen took two places on the first lap, helped by Oscar Piastri who needed a new front wing on his McLaren after the first corner clash with Alpina.

Alonso led until Perez passed him at Turn 1 at the start of lap four, the Mexican pulling away by more than 3 seconds. Leclerc and Verstappen were up to seventh and ninth respectively by lap 10.

Verstappen passed Hamilton in DRS on lap 12 to take eighth, two seconds behind Leclerc, who then put Esteban Ocon’s Alpine between them on the tour later. Verstappen jumped up to sixth after passing the DRS past Ocon and Stroll in the pits on lap 14. Sainz was in the pits two laps later, also hard but excessive with Stroll.

Leclerc pitted on lap 17, giving Verstappen a free pass to fourth, and rejoined ahead of Stroll, who struggled to get back up to speed. Stroll was then told to stop on track, causing a safety car on lap 18 – although his car went into a hole in the barrier that the FIA ​​managed not to spot.

Perez took those who had not yet stopped to the pits and Alonso served his 5 second penalty but rejoined ahead of Russell.

At the restart on lap 21, Perez led Alonso, Russell, Verstappen, Sainz, Hamilton (who switched to medium with almost everyone else on hard) and Leclerc, who was a big loser in the mix. Hamilton used his fresh media to pass Sainz on the exit of Turn 1 to pick up fifth.

Verstappen passed Russell in the final corner, leaving only Alonso between him and Perez, who was 5s on the road. Verstappen overtook Alonso in DRS as the race entered the second half, with Perez 5.6 seconds ahead – and they began trading fastest laps. But closing the gap to 4.5s, Verstappen began complaining of a driveshaft problem, while Perez reported a long brake pedal.

Despite those complaints, the Red Bulls kept pace with Perez keeping Verstappen at bay. Alonso finished 15 seconds behind, ahead of the Mercedes duo.

Russell was in no mood to relinquish fourth place to Hamilton, despite their tire difference, and the Ferraris didn’t have much pace on the difficult tracks and proved to be no threat from behind.

Ocon finished eighth ahead of team-mate Pierre Gasly, while Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) battled it out in a brilliant duel for the final point, with the Dane winning with a few laps to go.

Verstappen set the fastest lap on the last lap of the race.

UPDATE: After the race, Alonso had an extra 10 seconds added to his race time for not serving a time penalty correctly during his only pit stop, dropping him to fourth place behind Russell.

Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2023 fastest laps

Formula 1 pit stops for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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