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Ratings | Perez defends attack from unleashed Verstappen in Saudi Arabia

Ratings | Perez defends attack from unleashed Verstappen in Saudi Arabia

19-03-2023 20:29

Sergio Perez narrowly missed out on the Saudi Arabia GP due to a safety car in 2022, in 2023 nothing could stop the Mexican from a win, not even an onrushing Max Verstappen. Perez is therefore the man of the weekend, but read here what grade all the other drivers got on their reports. Grades are passed on the basis of performance throughout the race weekend.

Perez: 10

Sergio Perez gets a 10 for his sublime performance in Jeddah. The Mexican did what he was hired by Red Bull Racing to do: take pole when Verstappen suffered bad luck. Perez had a poor start, but quickly put things right by overtaking Alonso again. After that, nothing could stop him from winning in Saudi Arabia. A safety car brought the competition close, but Perez was brilliant on the restart, driving away from Alonso and giving himself a fine buffer towards Verstappen. That even an unleashed Verstappen failed to close the gap says enough about Perez's performance.

Verstappen: 9

Max Verstappen drove a perfect weekend in Saudi Arabia up to Q2, but when he needed to, his drive shaft gave out. How that came about is still unknown, but Verstappen almost repaired all the damage on Sunday. However, he did not make up the deficit on Perez. The safety car helped Max a lot, but he was unable to close the five-second gap. When Verstappen had problems with his drive shaft, he seemed to give up the fight for victory. On the last lap, however, he went for the fastest lap in Verstappens style and took it from Perez. Thus, Verstappen leads the championship with 44 points, ahead of Perez's 43.

Russell: 9

Alonso's 10-second penalty pushed George Russell even further up to third place. A handsome result for George, who as in Bahrain was better than his teammate. In qualifying, Russell was 0.366s faster than Hamilton, the man of 103 poles. In the race, Hamilton came close through the safety car, but George held on.

Alonso: 8

The podium was lost to Fernando Alonso due to a mistake in the pit lane in carrying out the penalty, but Alonso did not make it easy for himself this weekend. As in Bahrain, Alonso seems a bit too wild for his car on Saturday. He struggled with it, even though the AMR23 is extremely fast. There seemed to be more in it than the third time in qualifying, although Leclerc's penalty still put him on the front row of the grid. On Sunday, Alonso made a 'rookie mistake' by lining up in his starting grid in the wrong way. Even at the restart after the safety car, Alonso was not quite awake and immediately lost a lot of ground to Perez. A messy performance, although Alonso cannot complain with a P4.

Hamilton: 6

Being beaten by 0.366s in qualifying. It hasn't often happened to Lewis Hamilton, but just like in Bahrain, Hamilton had to acknowledge his superiority to Russell in Jeddah too. In the race, Hamilton benefited from the safety car, especially as he was able to change from the hard tyre to the medium tyre. No team orders were handed out, but you would expect Hamilton to be able to pass Russell on softer tyres even without them, but this did not happen. Thus, Hamilton remained behind his teammate and even ended up missing out on the podium with it.

Sainz: 6

For Carlos Sainz, the weekend in Saudi Arabia was one to quickly forget. He was 0.511s behind in qualifying, for instance. Leclerc qualified in second place and showed what was possible with the SF-23. Carlos did not succeed. From P4, anything was still possible, but Sainz lost his place to Stroll and was unlucky later in the race to see the safety car arrive just after his pit stop. This saw him pass both Mercedes cars, which he was then unable to keep up with. That Leclerc, meanwhile, had driven to his rear wing from P12 must not have done his confidence much good.

Leclerc: 8

Charles Leclerc's weekend already started with a deficit due to the new control unit in his car and the corresponding grid penalty. Leclerc did not complain and drove a great qualifying session. In the race too, Leclerc showed his class, but stopped short of his teammate. Perhaps there simply wasn't more in it for Ferrari on Sunday either, although it's a shame to hear Leclerc complaining over the board radio. On the same tyre, then, you just have to make up the difference on the track and not hope for a team order. 

Ocon: 9

Esteban Ocon is firmly in control at Alpine. For the second qualifying session in a row, he beat his new teammate and even Lewis Hamilton. Ocon drove a good race, but, like the men from Ferrari and his teammate, was unlucky with the timing of the safety car. Indeed, the Frenchman had just gone inside. On the restart, Ocon still kept his teammate behind, after an ambitious attempt in the first corner combinations by Gasly. A P7 proved to be the highest achievable after that.

Gasly: 7

Pierre Gasly is starting to find his feet at Alpine. On Saturday, he still came up short against Ocon, but at least he got into Q3. In the race, the Frenchman maximised, although he too would have been close to going into the pits after just one lap following contact with Oscar Piastri. There, Gasly took too much risk for a driver with his experience.

Magnussen: 8

A point for Haas will be celebrated as a victory this weekend. Kevin Magnussen drove to 10th place in a strong race, but had to fight hard for it. Thus, after qualifying, he first had to deal with his teammate, who was again faster over one lap. After passing Hulkenberg, Magnussen was stuck behind Tsunoda for a long time, but in the closing stages the Dane got past.

Tsunoda: 8

Yuki Tsunoda was again three tenths faster than his new teammate on Saturday and was the big winner after the safety car in the race, as the Japanese driver suddenly found himself in the top ten. On the hard tyre, Tsunoda held on for a very long time, beating off several attack attempts by the faster Magnussen. It was ultimately to no avail, as the Dane passed anyway. Still, Tsunoda can be proud after his second P11 in a row. His goal was to become more consistent and so far he seems to have succeeded quite well.

Hulkenberg: 7

You hardly notice that Nico Hulkenberg has been out of Formula 1 for three years, as over one lap the German is still blazing fast. On Saturday, Nico was faster than his teammate for the second race weekend in a row, this time 0.183s. On Sunday, Nico did lose the battle and had to watch K-Mag take the first point. Still, The Hulk was close and is doing what Guenther Steiner expects him to do: perform consistently.

Zhou: 8

Guanyu Zhou drove perhaps one of his best race weekends, but few people will have noticed. The Chinese driver was 0.207s faster than his teammate on Saturday and on Sunday too, Zhou remained consistently ahead of his teammate. The C43 was not competitive and Zhou even had to make two pit stops because the hard tyre was not working at all, but he still made it back to P13. Points didn't deliver, compliments did.

De Vries: 6

Nyck de Vries achieves a narrow enough with his performance in Jeddah. The Dutchman was again considerably slower than his teammate in qualifying, making it harder on himself for Sunday. While Tsunoda steadily gained some places, De Vries actually lost places in the early stages of the race on Sunday. The 28-year-old driver was helped by the safety car and thus won some spots, but never came close to points. Overall, it was better than in Bahrain, but it will have to be much better to put pressure on Tsunoda.

Piastri: 8

Oscar Piastri showed in Saudi Arabia why McLaren (and also Alpine) wanted him so badly. The Australian was faster than his teammate over one lap and that pressure caused Norris to miss out on Saturday, while Piastri drove to Q3. It didn't help Piastri much, as after lap one he was able to go into the pits after an unfortunate collision with Gasly. After that, McLaren's race pace proved not good enough to get back into the race.

Sargeant: 6

Messy; you can't describe Sargeant's weekend any other way. In his first run in Q1, he drove a time that was good enough for Q2, faster than teammate Albon. However, the rookie drives over the white line and loses his time. He then loses concentration and fails to drive the same time. On Sunday, things are also shaky. Team-mate Albon drops out due to braking problems and for a while Sargeant seems to have sight of a good result. On medium tyres, however, he cannot manage to pass Hulkenberg and in half-hearted attempts he smokes his tyres so badly that he is still passed by Zhou, De Vries and Piastri in the closing stages.

Norris: 5

Lando Norris had a lousy weekend. In qualifying, Lando went wrong by hitting the wall at the last corner. A remarkable mistake, which seems to have occurred due to pressure from Piastri. After all, the Australian was fast this weekend, and after two years of Daniel Ricciardo, Norris seemed unaccustomed to that. On Sunday, the Briton also suffered damage after one lap, ending his race. That Piastri passed him at the end and did manage to pass Sargeant also said something about Norris' pace.

Bottas: 5

This was not the weekend of Valtteri Bottas, who was the only one who had to make three stops because he could not get his tyres to work. Zhou was too quick for him in qualifying and the race.

Albon: 7

Alexander Albon saw the speed of his team-mate for the first time this weekend, but due to his messy performance it was not reflected in the results. Indeed, Albon did clock a legal time on Saturday and drove a strong race on Sunday. He too took advantage of the safety car, but due to brake problems, we will never know if he could have fought for a point like Magnussen.

Stroll: 6

Lance Stroll looked like he was heading for a very fast time in Q3, but things still went wrong in the final sector. The Canadian was two tenths short of Fernando Alonso, which saw two cars between him and his teammate. Stroll started the race well with an overtaking move on Sainz, but lost that spot due to an overcut by the Ferrari driver. Not much later, Stroll's race stopped altogether due to problems with his car.