RACE REPORT | F1 Saudi Arabia 2023

Sergio Perez claimed victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, leading a Red Bull 1-2 with Max Verstappen in second place.

After losing out to Fernando Alonso's Aston Martin at the start, Perez took the lead by Lap 4 and steadily pulled away from the field while Verstappen made a strong recovery from starting 15th due to a driveshaft failure in qualifying. Verstappen advanced to fourth place before benefiting from a safety car period caused by Lance Stroll's stranded Aston Martin. Verstappen then made quick work of overtaking his rivals to sit behind Perez by the halfway point of the race.

In the final stages of the race, the Red Bulls proved to be much faster than their competitors, with Verstappen setting the fastest lap on the last lap. However, Verstappen reported a driveshaft problem at high speed, which prevented him from mounting a challenge on his teammate. Perez lost his pole position advantage to Alonso at the start, but Alonso was given a penalty for lining up too far left in his grid slot. George Russell held on to third place for Mercedes, with Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and Stroll rounding out the top five. Lewis Hamilton, who started on hard tyres, dropped to seventh in his Mercedes.

Charles Leclerc started 12th after incurring a grid penalty for changing his engine control electronics, but he gained three places on the first lap using soft tyres. Verstappen gained two places on the opening lap, aided by Oscar Piastri's collision with an Alpine. Alonso led the race until Perez overtook him on Lap 4, after which the Mexican driver steadily extended his lead. Verstappen moved up to ninth place by Lap 10, and DRS-ed past Hamilton on Lap 12 to take eighth.

Following the safety car period caused by Stroll's retirement, Perez led those who hadn't yet pitted into the pits. At the restart, Perez led Alonso, Russell, Verstappen, Sainz, Hamilton, and Leclerc. Verstappen overtook Alonso and Russell to reach second place, with Perez 5.6 seconds ahead. Despite complaining about a driveshaft problem, Verstappen closed the gap to 4.5 seconds before Perez began reporting a long brake pedal. Nonetheless, Perez held on to win the race, with Alonso finishing in third place ahead of the two Mercedes drivers.

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