The F1 circus will reach Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian GP in what will be the second race of the 2023 season.
The first race in Bahrain saw Max Verstappen and Red Bull cruise to a win, securing a 1-2 finish. Since then, the F1 world has been under some sort of turmoil with one major revelation after another coming from the big teams.
Both Mercedes and Ferrari appear to be going through issues and no news from either of the camps has been positive in any sense. In all of this, we’re looking forward to the third iteration of the F1 Saudi Arabian GP. The first edition was chaotic at best and saw Lewis Hamilton win, while the second saw an impressive all-race battle between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
What can we expect from the third edition of the F1 Saudi Arabian GP? Let’s take a look as we preview the race and share our predictions for the weekend.
2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP: Preview
#1 Will Red Bull dominate again?
This is one question that has a lot of fans worried. Still reeling from an almost decade-long dominance of Mercedes, the prospect of another one-team dominance is not welcomed in any which way.
Red Bull cruised to a win in Bahrain and while many pundits have pointed to extenuating circumstances for that race, fans are worried if we’re starting to see a particular team reign supreme once again in F1.
#2 What the hell is going on at Mercedes and Ferrari?
Every time either Ferrari or Mercedes has featured in the news in the last week or so, it has been mostly negative. Ferrari appears to be a hotspot for massacres with one personnel after the other losing their place within the team, while Mercedes appears to have given an ultimatum to its technical director.
How these two teams fare at the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP is going to be a major indicator of where they will find themselves this season.
#3 How is the on-track and off-track safety?
Lest we forget, ‘the fastest street circuit’ in the world has been a menace for carbon fiber in the last two interations. The F1 race last season was arguably the only one that did not see any major crashes or stoppages. How the track treats the cars this time around is something everyone will keep an eye on this race weekend.
To add to this, the missile attack at the Aramco facility near the track was a major talking point last season. Drivers and teams will surely be given assurances this time around so that there is no repeat of that.
It’s hard to see anyone but Red Bull. The team has everything going their way right now. The car works in all conditions, the tire degradation is negligible, and Max Verstappen is on top of his game as well. The team has everything it needs to succeed.
Out of form
Mercedes have basically given up on the 2023 F1 season. Toto Wolff and George Russell have been quick to issue proclamations that Red Bull will win every race this season.
Somehow, while the negative comments do not bode well for a team like Mercedes. They are a reflection of the car that the team has brought to the track. The 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP is going to give a much better picture of where the team stacks up and if there is something it can do better.
2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP: Predictions
Who wins the race?
Looking at what happened in Bahrain, it’s not a tough choice to pick Max Verstappen as the man to win the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP. A challenge could possibly be mounted by Ferrari and Charles Leclerc, but in all likelihood, Red Bull comes to Jeddah with a major advantage.
The surprise of the weekend (Team)
Haas suffered extensively from rear tire degradation in Bahrain. Having said that, the team also showed impressive speed in the first sector. With Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying, the first sector helped the car gain a lot in lap time. The first sector does specifically demand straight-line efficiency from cars and that is going to come in handy in Saudi Arabia.
On a track where tire degradation might not prove to be a limiting factor, Haas could exploit the straight-line efficiency of the car and possibly convert a strong qualifying into points this time around.
Surprise of the weekend (Driver)
Another car that tends to do well on the straights is Williams. Alex Albon made the most of it in Bahrain and will be looking to make the most of it in Saudi Arabia as well.
The other Williams driver is someone we will be keeping a keen eye on. Logan Sargeant was very impressive on his debut. He almost made it to Q2 and was not too far behind Albon in his first F1 race. At the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP, keep an eye on the American as he could possibly outperform his teammate.
Disappointment of the weekend (Team)
We might be looking at a weekend where Aston Martin could possibly struggle a bit. The car does not have the best straight-line speed, which is one of the reasons why Fernando Alonso had to pull off some spectacular moves to overtake Hamilton and Sainz in Bahrain.
To add to this, one of the crucial advantages that Aston Martin possessed was superior tire usage. Jeddah does not pose that kind of challenge to tire life and if that is the case, Aston Martin might not be a podium challenger at the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP.
Disappointment of the weekend (Driver)
Lance Stroll will be back racing once again at the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP. Now, it’s safe to say that the Canadian was sensational in Bahrain, and how he executed the weekend was brilliant. It is understandable that the extra two weeks should help Lance even more.
Having said that, the F1 Saudi Arabian GP is very physical. It’s the fastest street circuit in F1 and one of the most demanding tracks on the body. While we didn’t see Stroll struggle much in Bahrain, Jeddah could prove to be a different story.