A Verstappen comeback, Alonso poised for victory – What the enticing Saudi Arabian GP has in store

  • Max Verstappen has to climb a mountain from 15th place if he wants to be on the podium in Saudi Arabia.
  • Despite Fernando Alonso being fast, he admits his Aston Martin Formula 1 car is not on Red Bull’s pace.
  • George Russell (3rd) and Pierre Gasly (10th) were separated by just 0.5 seconds in qualifying, proving that the midfield battle will be key.

Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix qualifying was successful in more ways than one, as were a disappointment or two that could only lead to a hot race.

WINDING | F1 qualification

The two biggest stories came from the Red Bull stable, where Max Verstappen retired from qualifying and Sergio Perez took advantage of his teammate’s misfortune to secure pole position.

The qualifying hour was exciting and prepared the race very well.

1. Verstappen’s bravery can take him to the podium

The nature of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit is not very forgiving. The smallest mistake can lead to immense misfortune, but the brave are rewarded for their nerves of steel. Throughout the weekend leading up to his retirement from qualifying, Verstappen was the driver to beat and had practically sealed pole position with plenty of power left.

But the driveshaft problem left him 15th for the race, barring further penalties if the team decides to swap out parts on its drive unit.

Given Verstappen’s superior pace over the rest of the grid, it’s not far-fetched to see him on the podium at the end of the race. Bar Perez, Verstappen is easily over a second clear of any driver on the Jeddah street circuit and could make a real impression during the 50-lap race.

Heck, we won’t discount his win if the opportunity arises.

2. Alonso for the win?

Well, that’s a small request for Alonso because his Aston Martin isn’t up to Red Bull’s pace yet. The AMR23 is the second fastest car on the grid, but the RB19 is virtually unrivaled, hampered only by reliability issues (as we’ve seen with Verstappen).

But Alonso’s power deficit is closer to Perez’s than Verstappen’s and the driver could launch an attack to take the race lead into the first corner.

While Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc slips to 12th after incurring a 10-spot penalty, Alonso moves up to second. The Spaniard isn’t too concerned about the win, however, as he realizes the gap between his car and Red Bull’s is too big to bridge so early in the season.

“I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but when we see the pace, all weekend in free practice, when we see the race in Bahrain, we have to be honest with ourselves and know that Red Bull is a little bit ahead of everyone. Let’s say that’s not the goal, fighting for victory with Checo (Perez)” said Alonso.

3. Ferrari vs Alpine vs Mercedes

Ferrari, although Leclerc says they have extra power in the car, are fast on their way to becoming F1’s third fastest team in 2023.

With that, they scrape against Mercedes-AMG for the position behind Red Bull and Aston Martin. However, Alpine could have a say – at least around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

After Leclerc’s grid penalty, every driver from 12th place up will move up one place, ensuring these three teams will no doubt be battling for places. Leclerc has to work his way up the grid, trying to displace Pierre Gasly (Alpine), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and George Russell (Mercedes).

Adding to Leclerc’s fight, these riders will go head-to-head to secure points that could be crucial as the season draws to a close. Russell (4th, 3rd on the grid) and Gasly (10th, 9th on the grid) are separated by just 0.5 seconds, so the performance differences between the three teams are minimal.

The race begins on Sunday at (7:00 p.m. Southeast Time).


Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button