Saudi Arabian F1 Grand Prix 2023 Results: Sergio Perez Wins, Max Verstappen 2nd

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMarch 19, 2023

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 19: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 19, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Sergio Perez earned his first win of the 2023 Formula One season with a dominant performance at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen climbed into second place after starting Sunday in 15th position, staying in first place in the championship standings thanks to his fastest lap.

Fernando Alonso was at the center of musical chairs around the final podium spot after in third place, but he was initially replaced by George Russell after a penalty:

Jon Noble @NobleF1

Fernando Alonso has dropped to fourth place in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaudiArabianGP?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SaudiArabianGP</a> after he was handed a 10-second penalty post-race penalty for not serving a 5-second pit penalty correctly. George Russell moves up to third. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/F1?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#F1</a>

However, Aston Martin requested a review of the penalty, which resulted in it being overturned, returning Alonso to the podium:

Chris Medland @ChrisMedlandF1

It has gone in Alonso's favour. Still waiting on the official documents to be published but the decision has been reversed and he regains third place <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/F1?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#F1</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaudiArabianGP?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SaudiArabianGP</a> <a href="https://t.co/uNOMBa96BO">https://t.co/uNOMBa96BO</a>

It continues an impressive start to the year for Red Bull Racing, which finished one-two in the first race of the year two weeks ago in Bahrain.

After Verstappen cruised to a championship last year, the team is off to another strong start through two races in 2023.

Final Results

1. Sergio Perez

2. Max Verstappen

3. Fernando Alonso

4. George Russell

5. Lewis Hamilton

6. Carlos Sainz

7. Charles Leclerc

8. Esteban Ocan

9. Pierre Gasly

10. Kevin Magnussen

Full results available at Formula1.com.

Verstappen has been the fastest driver for the past two years, but he had an uphill battle this week after an issue during qualifying.

The car's driveshaft broke in the second round of qualifying and ended up in 15th, while teammate Perez grabbed the top spot just ahead of Charles Leclerc.

It didn't take long for Verstappen to get back into contention, gaining 11 positions over the first 20 laps of the race:

Ben Hunt @benjhunt

Lap 12 and Verstappen (from 15th on the grid) passes Hamilton (started 7th) with so much ease. The Dutchman is now 8th.

Jonathan Brazeau @JonathanBrazeau

Lap 12, Verstappen cruises by Hamilton for P8. That's seven spots gained since the start for the Red Bull. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/F1?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#F1</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaudiArabianGP?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SaudiArabianGP</a>


Max Verstappen started the race in P15.<br><br>It's lap 20 and he's already P4 🤯 <a href="https://t.co/wiDRK2dFKL">pic.twitter.com/wiDRK2dFKL</a>

Formula 1 @F1

LAP 24/50<br><br>Verstappen breezes by Alonso for second ✌️<br><br>Only race-leader Perez is ahead of him now<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaudiArabianGP?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SaudiArabianGP</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/F1?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#F1</a> <a href="https://t.co/xSCaXVE68n">pic.twitter.com/xSCaXVE68n</a>

He reached fourth place in time for a restart when the safety car came out after Lance Stroll was forced to stop. A few laps later, he was already in second place just behind Perez.

Perez was still going to be tough to catch, increasing the gap to first to more than 20 seconds when the safety car was called.

𝚔𝚒𝚛𝚞𝚝𝚒 @kiruti

Perez is practicing social distancing

It became a two-man race over the second half of the Grand Prix, with everyone else battling for third place.

Perez held about a five-second lead for much of the day, although Verstappen ignored team orders as he tried to close the gap:

Luke Smith @LukeSmithF1

Perez is told to target a 32.6 - Verstappen's pace - and asks why he was told to previously target a 33.0. Verstappen was told four times by GP to target 33.0, but kept his pace below that <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/F1?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#F1</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaudiArabianGP?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SaudiArabianGP</a>

It still wasn't enough, as Perez took care of business on his way to an easy victory.

Alonso, who earned a five-second penalty early in the race, remained in third position for much of the day and had little trouble holding off Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

He was seemingly set for his 100th career podium until a post-race investigation changed the outcome.

The drivers now have two weeks to prepare for the Australian Grand Prix, which is set for April 2.