Saudi Arabian GP ratings: Proof Perez can save F1 from another boring season? F1 journalist Connor McDonagh runs through his driver ratings for the season-opening Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Race winner Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing
Race winner Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez - 9.5

Was the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix the best drive of Perez’s F1 career? Probably. Once the Safety Car was deployed due to Stroll’s stricken Aston Martin, many would have expected teammate Verstappen to win with ease, but it didn’t happen. Perez could match Verstappen’s pace lap-by-lap and defeated him on pure pace. 

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Max Verstappen - 9

Verstappen was robbed of a guaranteed pole after he was hit with a driveshaft problem in Q2. As expected, Verstappen cut his way through the field, with his life being made considerably easier by a timely Safety Car. He didn’t have enough pace to cut the gap to Perez, settling for second.

George Russell - 8.5

A fine weekend from Russell overall. He was superb in qualifying to put his Mercedes fourth, before extracting the most from his W14 on race day. 

Fernando Alonso - 9

Alonso may have finished on the podium (on-track at least) but his initial five-second penalty was his own doing hence why it’s reflected in his overall rating for this weekend.

Lewis Hamilton - 7

Hamilton was never on the pace of his less experienced teammate, losing most of his time in the tight-twisty first sector. Starting on the hards, Hamilton struggled to get them working and looked set for a difficult afternoon. However, the Safety Car period was timely and it allowed him to jump the two Ferraris and Ocon.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2,…

Carlos Sainz - 7

After a 0.5s deficit to Leclerc in qualifying, Sainz put together a solid race to finish sixth. Given the timing of the Safety Car, there wasn’t much more he could have done.

Charles Leclerc - 7.5

Leclerc was sensational in qualifying, getting to within two-tenths of Perez. It was always going to be a tricky Sunday for the Ferrari man given that he had a 10-place grid penalty to serve. Like Sainz, the Safety Car couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Esteban Ocon - 8

After a disastrous Bahrain race, Ocon will be delighted with a solid albeit unspectacular eighth in Saudi Arabia. He out-qualified a Mercedes and beat his teammate.

Pierre Gasly - 7

Never quite on the pace of teammate Ocon, Gasly enjoyed a more straightforward weekend in Jeddah. 

Kevin Magnussen - 7

Magnussen scored Haas’ first point of the year. While he lacked Hulkenberg’s qualifying speed, good race pace with an inch-perfect move on Tsunoda propelled him into the top 10 for the first time in F1 2023.

Yuki Tsunoda - 6.5

Tsunoda benefitted from the timing of the Safety Car but given AlphaTauri’s lack of pace, keeping Magnussen behind was never realistic. Comfortable margin over de Vries, whose weekend was compromised by no running in FP3.

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Haas VF-23. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Race
Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Haas VF-23. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2,…

Nico Hulkenberg - 6.5

The veteran German starred in qualifying - like he did in Bahrain - but seemed to lack some pace compared to Magnussen. Some inevitable race day rust for Hulkenberg who will have to improve his Sundays to capitalise on his sensational one-lap pace.

Zhou Guanyu - 7

An underrated weekend from Zhou. He out-qualified Bottas by over two-tenths after out-pacing the Finn consistently throughout practice. An early stop for Alfa Romeo cost him a shot at points due to the aforementioned Safety Car.

Nyck de Vries - 5.5

After missing FP3 due to an engine problem, it’s hard to be too harsh on de Vries for his qualifying display. He ultimately finished 10s behind his teammate at the chequered flag.

Oscar Piastri - 6

Piastri’s good work in qualifying was undone by an unfortunate incident with Gasly on the opening lap. He picked up damage and his chance of points was ruined. 

Logan Sargeant - 6

We saw a glimpse of Sargeant’s impressive qualifying speed in Q1. Had it not been for a harsh invalidation he’d have made it through. It was always going to be an uphill battle from the back of the grid but the American has started life in F1 beyond everyone’s expectations.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2,…

Lando Norris - 4.5

A rare error from Norris meant he was eliminated in the first part of qualifying for the first time since 2019. His race was then ruined by front wing damage sustained on the opening lap.

Valtteri Bottas - 4

It was a weekend to forget for Bottas, who was the only driver lapped by the two Red Bulls. His lack of pace, particularly in the race, was strange. Footage did emerge afterwards showing Bottas driving over some debris on Lap 1.

Alex Albon - 5.5

A quiet weekend from Albon, who should have been beaten by his less experienced teammate. He was forced out of the race prematurely due to a brake issue.

Lance Stroll - 7

A great first stint from Stroll, which included a sensational pass on the outside of Sainz on Lap 1. He was overcut by the two Ferraris before his early retirement. 

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