Saudi Arabian GP driver ratings: Super Sergio Perez, sub-par Sainz and Norris nightmare
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix driver ratings are in! How do our scores from Jeddah stack up to your post-race analysis?
Ratings explained: Every driver starts the weekend slap bang in the middle with a 5/10 rating and we operate on a sliding scale from there. We take the entire weekend into account, not just the race itself.
However, the scores will be weighted more towards a driver’s race performance, but qualifying performances (good or bad) are also factored into our ratings and, in extreme circumstances, practice will also play a minor part in the overall score.
With Sergio Perez taking his first win of the season along with Max Verstappen cutting his way through the pack, there are predictably high scores for the Red Bull duo while the former friendliest driver pairing on the grid, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, had a race to forget.
So with that, here are PlanetF1.com’s driver ratings for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix:
Sergio Perez – 9.5
If there are two words to sum up Sergio Perez’s weekend, they would be ‘job done’. With Verstappen out of the way, Red Bull needed a performance from Perez and he duly delivered. Taking pole and while he did lose out on the P1 spot going into the first corner, he soon retook the lead and never looked back.
As was the case with his team-mate, the Safety Car came at an ideal time for Perez and he did well to build a lead while maintaining the hard tyres.
It would have been interesting to see how he would have fared with a charging Verstappen behind him but alas, that fight will hopefully come another day.
Max Verstappen – 9.5
As many who have predicted, Max Verstappen made small work of tearing through the field from his P15 starting spot, moving within the top 10 inside the opening nine laps.
Granted a well-time Safety Car worked massively in his favour but even if it had not, few would have bet against him to cut his way through the rest of the pack.
A slight problem towards the end of his race prevented him closing the gap to Perez but a P2 with the fastest lap is an excellent result for a man who started as far back as he did and initially looked a shoo-in for pole position before reliability problems struck.
Fernando Alonso – 8.5
Regardless of whether the FIA took too long to hand out the penalty (which they did), an experienced pro like Fernando Alonso should not have given them the option. Like we saw with Esteban Ocon in Bahrain, Alonso’s failure to line up properly could have cost him dear.
Penalties aside, it was another strong performance from Alonso. He dived past Perez going into turn 1 and while he was not able to hold onto P1, only the Red Bulls were able to challenge him.
Perhaps it is telling that when he initially lost his P3 spot, Alonso was not too worried as he is clearly a man who believes it is more than just podiums in his future.
George Russell – 8.5
There was not a small out of fortune for George Russell to be standing on the podium (even if he did not actually stand on the podium and was only on it for a few hours) but as the old saying goes, you’ve got to be in it win it and Russell ensured that if anyone in the top three were going to make a mistake, it was him who would cash in.
At a time when his team-mate has vocalised his endless annoyances with the W14, Russell has silently gone about his business. P4 was promoted to P3 for qualifying before a steady race which saw him overtaken by just Max Verstappen.
And like all that finished within the top five, the safety car massively benefited Russell, allowing him to move past both Ferraris.
The hairiest moment of his race came when it looked like he was in a battle with Hamilton but he kept his team-mate at arm’s length before extending the gap and holding onto his place.
Lewis Hamilton – 7
Mercedes opted for a different strategy for Hamilton, starting him on the hard when the rest of the top 10 were on the medium and it left him vulnerable in the opening stages of the race.
Unable to move past Ocon, he was pretty easily dispatched by Leclerc and then Verstappen but the choice to start on hards would massively pay off for reasons that the team had perhaps not predicted.
Once the Safety Car had been called, Hamilton emerged on the grid ahead of both Ocon but crucially also Leclerc and with the tables turned in terms of tyres, it was the Brit who was able to move past a Ferrari, this time in the form of Sainz.
Hamilton may have his many issues with the W14 but the race in Jeddah showed that if given the right circumstances, there is some performance there to be extracted.
Carlos Sainz – 6
Towards the tail end of 2022, Sainz spoke of a need to start the season strongly and yet, here we are two races into 2023, and he has again begun the campaign poorly. At a time when Ferrari needed him to start well, he again let them down.
Lance Stroll overtook him and had the same man not caused a Safety Car then it is likely Charles Leclerc would have also moved past Sainz despite starting eight places further back.
His one saving grace was being able to keep Leclerc behind him late on to hold onto P6 but the Spaniard has yet again shown an inability to challenge at the very top of the grid.
Charles Leclerc – 7.5
When Charles Leclerc looks back on this race and wonders why he finished P7 and 43 seconds off the leader, he will come to the conclusion that not much of the blame lies with him.
Starting on the softs in a sea of mediums, Leclerc was able to manoeuvre his way up through the grid until he arrived at the rear wing of his team-mate but with his tyres becoming more and more worn, Ferrari made the correct call to pit him and in a cruel twist of fate, Stroll DNFed and brought out the safety car.
From there, the race of both of the Ferrari cars seemed to be over. The SF-23 lacked the performance to attack the two Mercedes drivers ahead of him and Leclerc was unable to move past Sainz, something that looked a certainty earlier in the grand prix.
Leclerc also deserves credit for sticking said SF-23 on the front row before penalties were applied.
Esteban Ocon – 7.5
After an opening race full of penalties, Esteban Ocon and Alpine would have taken a comfortable P8 without incident before lights out in Jeddah. Indeed, the Alpine duo appeared to be in their own race at times, too slow to catch the top six plus Alonso but quick enough to keep those challenging for the P10 spot from doubling their points.
Unable to keep the trio of Hamilton, Verstappen and Leclerc behind him, it was Ocon’s P8 to lose and he held onto to it until the chequered flag.
There was a hint of a potential battle between these much talked about team-mates following the Safety Car but both proved that they were willing to put the team first and not fight one another.
Pierre Gasly – 7
We suspect this may have been one of the more boring races in Pierre Gasly’s career with the Frenchman starting P10 and moving up one spot due to Lance Stroll’s retirement but after a dramatic race in Bahrain, Gasly would have been happier with a quieter evening.
Following the Safety Car, Gasly had one job to do which was to move past his old team-mate Yuki Tsunoda and he duly did that before delivering the car in P9 and adding more points to his and Alpine’s total.
Kevin Magnussen – 7.5
At a time when the race had died down in the latter stages, the most interesting battle became a fight for the final points-paying spot and following Alex Albon’s retirement, it became a shoot-out between the experienced Dane and the young blood of Tsunoda.
In the end it was experience that would win. Diving into turn 1 in lap 46, both drivers locked up but it was Magnussen who managed to force his car around the corner and take the place.
It was no less than Magnussen deserved either and both he and the team will be delighted they are off the mark.
Yuki Tsunoda – 7
Oh Yuki. Two races and two P11s mean that despite two good showings, he has zero points to show for it.
The Japanese driver drove really well to move up to P9 from his P16 starting spot and the Safety Car was very much to his benefit.
But having been unable to hold back the Alpines, he was then in a battle for that final points-paying spot with Magnussen and ultimately a lock up going into turn 1 would cost Tsunoda dear. He settles on a score of 7 despite having potential to score a little higher.
Nico Hulkenberg – 6.5
In his second race back in Formula 1, Hulkenberg may not have been able to match the pace shown by his Haas team-mate but he did at least come away from Jeddah without a pile of penalties for exceeding track limits.
He was operating pretty comfortably in P12 post-Safety Car and it would have been interesting to see how well he defended from Albon but ultimately that wasn’t to be and once Magnussen put his foot down, Hulkenberg was left in the dust.
Hulkenberg’s encouraging display in qualifying, narrowly missing out on Q3, also needs to be factored in.
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Zhou Guanyu – 6
Like the Ferraris, the Safety Car came at the worst time possible for Zhou who had only just pitted. As a result, he was sent tumbling down the order and any hope of points became very faint.
Following the resumption of racing, Zhou and the Alfa car lacked the ability to make headway on the pack and in the end, he had to settle for P13. Got the better of Bottas in qualifying.
Nyck De Vries – 5
Not a great showing for De Vries who appears to be under a bit of pressure even this early in his Formula 1 career.
Given Tsunoda’s good work up the field, AlphaTauri had every right to expect De Vries to be able to challenge for points but ultimately, he was off the pace.
Qualifying in 18th, De Vries was unable to make any headway up the grid and finished 14th as a result of both McLarens having issues as well as Stroll and Albon’s retirement.
Oscar Piastri – 6.5
Was squeezed by Pierre Gasly in lap one which caused some of his front wing to swiftly eject itself from the car and with it, any hope that Piastri would be able to keep his excellent qualifying spot.
There are positives for Piastri, first of all finishing an F1 race but also doing so in front of his team-mate having dispatched him in the latter stages.
Logan Sargeant – 6
Another solid race for Sargeant but ultimately it was qualifying that let him down. Starting from P20 was always going to be a tall order but he did well to move past De Vries in the early stages.
He even managed to move into P8 briefly but the resulting pit stop under Safety Car conditions dropped him back to P15 and he was ultimately unable to hold back De Vries and Piastri in the closing stages.
Lando Norris – 4.5
A crucial mistake in Q1 of qualifying pretty much ended Lando Norris’ race chances before the grand prix had even begun.
Starting that far back, the MCL60 just does not have the pace to be able to cut through the field with the same amount of ease that the Ferrari and Red Bull did and having run over some debris that had shed off his own team-mate’s car, his race was further compromised.
From there, it was again a battle at the back for Norris but at least this time he did not have to pit on six occasions. However, finishing behind his team-mate will have been a sore point.
Valtteri Bottas – 4.5
A sub-par qualifying spot made life difficult for Bottas in the race and an early pit stop pushed him further down the grid.
From there, he simply lacked the pace to move up the field, struggling to challenge the McLarens and ultimately finishing in his lowest spot since the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Did not finish
Lance Stroll – 7
Made easy work of diving past Sainz in the opening stages and looked like he was a sure bet for the P4 spot until the car gave out.
The ensuing Safety Car would not only have huge ramifications for Stroll but indeed the entirety of the grid including his own team-mate – but that will be of little consolation to the Canadian who looked as if he was on for a good number of points in Jeddah.
Alex Albon – 6.5
Seemed to be in with a real chance of fighting for P10, which would have been the second time in as many races that he finished within the points, but ultimately the car let him down with a brake failure in lap 27.
To Albon’s credit, he managed to drive the car home with the issue but having said the FW45 was the best car he has had since he has been at Williams, he will have been disappointed not to have been able to fight for the P10 spot.