We take the same leading trio and we start again... but in a different order. Sergio Pérez won the Saudi Grand Prix in Jeddah on Sunday March 19 ahead of his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen (2nd), two weeks after the first meeting of the season in Bahrain, where the Dutchman had beaten the Mexican. For Red Bull, the start of the season is ideal, as for Aston Martin, which sees Fernando Alonso grab 3rd place for the second time in a row.
Starting first on the starting grid, Pérez confirmed his qualities on the street circuits and won the fifth Grand Prix of his career. His first pole position, he had already obtained it in Jeddah, in 2022, before finishing 4th in the race. This time, he converted it brilliantly, only hampered at the start of the race by an attacking Fernando Alonso.
The Mexican, however, failed to dethrone his teammate from the top of the drivers' standings. At Red Bull, the hierarchy is clear: Verstappen is the leader. The latter therefore did everything to stand out from his teammate. In the final loop, the double world champion set the fastest lap time, which gave him a bonus point and allowed him to retain the lead in the standings.
The presence of Verstappen in the leading trio was however not obvious at the start of the Grand Prix. Relegated to 15th place on the starting grid due to a mechanical problem during qualifying on Saturday, the Dutchman made one of the rises in the classification of which he has the secret. However, Verstappen benefited from a slight nudge of fate, when the safety car entered the track to evacuate the immobilized car of Lance Stroll.
100ᵉ career podium for Alonso
Suddenly, Verstappen and the other drivers who had not yet changed their tires took advantage of a "free" pit stop. The Dutchman was then able to manage his end of the race, far ahead of Alonso. The performance of the two Red Bull drivers on the Jeddah circuit confirms that the Austrian team's RB19 largely dominates its opponents at the start of the season.
The party is total at Red Bull and partly at Aston Martin. Alonso has stepped on a Formula 1 podium for the hundredth time in his career and confirms that at 41 he could still play the leading roles throughout the season. Provided that the Aston Martin single-seater does not encounter new reliability problems after Stroll's retirement.
Among Red Bull's other competitors, Mercedes dominated Ferrari, with George Russell (4ᵉ) and Lewis Hamilton (5ᵉ) ahead of Carlos Sainz (6ᵉ) and Charles Leclerc (7th). If the Spaniard from the Scuderia disappointed, the Monegasque for his part made a good rise in the standings – certainly insufficient in his eyes – after starting 12th on the starting grid. The Italian team is struggling at the start of the season and will have to find a way to get more rhythm in order to fight for the world titles. A challenge for Frédéric Vasseur, the new French boss of Ferrari.
At Alpine, the day ends with the satisfaction of having two drivers in the points. Esteban Ocon (8th), frustrated due to his retirement in Bahrain during the first race, finished just ahead of Pierre Gasly (9th), who is ending a weekend that had started very badly in his single-seater. Behind the teams that dominate this start to the season, Alpine currently ranks 5th in the constructors' standings before the next Grand Prix in Australia on April 2.