F1 returns to action this weekend with the Saudi Arabian GP. The first race of the season was a roller coaster of emotions for the fans. It started with an extremely intense qualifying session that left the fans excited about the race. The race, however, did not deliver on the hype in the build-up as we had Red Bull dominating the field while everyone else was left to fend for themselves.
The first race of the season was the perfect start for Max Verstappen, the Red Bull driver securing pole position and winning the race comfortably. This was not the case for every driver on the grid as a few of them had a forgetful first race of the season.
Many of these drivers will be looking for redemption this weekend. Who are these drivers? Let’s take a look.
#1 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur was steadfast in his hopes of challenging Red Bull this season after what happened at the race in Bahrain.
Charles Leclerc, Jean Todt, and Academy Award winner Michelle Yeoh 😁 pic.twitter.com/YEyWoh8sfU
— emi 🏒 (@maraneIlo) March 13, 2023
Having said that, this does not change the fact that Charles Leclerc once again had nothing to show for his efforts in Bahrain. A PU failure in the first race of the season means a 25-point deficit already to Max Verstappen at the top of the standings. The race in Saudi Arabia has to be one where Charles Leclerc starts to show there is still life at Ferrari.
He needs to show that he can challenge Max Verstappen this season before the gap becomes too big. A race win would be the perfect comeback, but even a competitive race where Verstappen is not cruising to a win would be a big step forward. After what happened in Bahrain, Leclerc will be desperate for that one.
#2 George Russell (Mercedes F1)
George Russell’s start to the 2023 F1 campaign was far from impressive. He did outqualify his teammate Lewis Hamilton. But once Hamilton got the jump in the race, the race unfolded in the same way it used to with Valtteri Bottas. Russell simply did not have the pace to keep up with his teammate and even lost a position to Lance Stroll.
Lewis Hamilton is in his late 30s. Even at this stage, the former F1 world champion has shown the ability to stamp his authority over Russell whenever he gets a chance.
George Russell: pic.twitter.com/nGcz5kmwCp
— WTF1 (@wtf1official) March 2, 2023
If Mercedes wants Lewis Hamilton’s successor, they want someone who can beat him, and Russell needs to start showing it soon before it is too late.
#3 Esteban Ocon (Alpine F1)
Esteban Ocon’s propensity to get involved in first-lap incidents cost him the opportunity to put together a good haul of points in the F1 Bahrain GP. What it also meant was his failure to capitalize on Alpine’s speed as his teammate scored points. The battle at Alpine is intense and it is only going to increase in intensity as the season continues.
So good to see all the fans again. 🙏🏼 Enjoy the race tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/FWfi8znTf8
— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) March 4, 2023
Even after the first race of the season, it looks obvious that the two Alpine drivers are neck and neck in terms of performance.
Esteban Ocon conceded to teammate Pierre Gasly at the 2023 F1 Bahrain GP as Gasly now has points next to his name while the former doesn’t. In Saudi Arabia, a place where Ocon has a very good record in his two outings, the aim would be to keep his nose clean on the first lap and start putting points on the table.