2023 Saudi Arabia Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: At least we can stop talking about whether Max Verstappen will win all the races this year. But, there can still be the talk whether Red Bull will win all the races this year.
EVENT: The irony of these Middle Eastern non-events, is with today's booming F1 popularity in other parts of the world, these Middle Eastern races are now the most reasonable events for the common fan to attend.
TRACK: A street circuit in name only. But by "definition," it is the fastest street circuit in the world.
QUALIFYING: Verstappen is let down by his car, so Perez stepped in to take the pole, Alonso gets to start from the first row thanks to Leclerc's grid penalty, Piastri shines as does the Alpine team, while Williams hurt themselves.
RACE: An intrateam dustup, a late penalty eventually overturned, a silly full safety car call, Jeddah once again producing some great wheel to wheel battles, ultimately made us all forget, it was essentially a repeat of Bahrain.
START: Wily old veteran Alonso jumps Perez for the lead but lordy lord he messed up his start positioning, everyone is clean except Piastri and Gasly who love tap each other, and the McLarens both swap out damaged front wings winding up at the back.
PEREZ: Held up wonderfully to the pressure of Verstappen behind him for yet another win on a street circuit.
VERSTAPPEN: Reliability be damned. Max is going to beat his teammate no matter what, until he realizes he really can't.
RED BULL: Sure, we all know who will ultimately come up on top, but the most exciting part of this season may end up being the intrateam fight at Red Bull and watching how they handle the potential fireworks.
ALONSO: To properly serve a penalty or not to properly serve a penalty. To touch the car with the rear jack or not to touch the car with the rear jack. Nobody knows.
RUSSELL: Back in the top five.
HAMILTON: His offset strategy at first wasn't working, then it was working thanks to the safety car, and then it didn't work.
SAINZ: Also held off his teammate who started way behind him but caught up.
LECLERC: Nice "diplomatic" way of trying to get team orders in your favor, Charles.
FERRARI: Once again, had the qualifying speed but suffered race pace and self inflicted wounds ... wait, being told that was Ferrari in the World Endurance Championship event at Sebring. Is this the modus operandis for Ferrari in all racing series...?
MAGNUSSEN: After getting outqualified by his teammate again, Kevin finally got the handle on his car, made a great pass on Tsunoda, and took a point for Haas.
SARGEANT: Logan has had miserable showings at Jeddah in the junior formula categories. It hasn't changed in the major leagues either.
PIASTRI: On the flip side, Oscar won both his F2 races at Jeddah and was very impressive here in F1.
MCLAREN: Once again, a forgettable Sunday.
STROLL: Lance was courtesy and did everything right -- he pulled way off the track, found a safe spot, and even tried to drive completely off. But for some odd reason, that exit was blocked by a recovery vehicle. There is a reason tracks have openings, so race cars can get out of the way without causing a safety car situation.
FIA: Then the absurdity of a full safety car was called, when it was clearly a virtual safety car only. At worse. It feasibly could have required nothing.
F2: After Victor Martins threw away the race, Dane Frederik Vesti won the feature. On Saturday, Japanese driver Ayumu Iwasa won one of the most exciting F2 races.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Jack.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 100 -- The number of career podiums for Fernando Alonso. Or is it still 99? No, it's 100. Well, maybe 99... Absolutely 100.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: The last time an Aston Martin started on the front row of an F1 race was the 1959 British GP at the Aintree Motor Racing Circuit. Brit Roy Salvadori started second with an identical time to Jack Brabham (Cooper-Climax). Ferrari was trapped in Italy due to countrywide strikes. Brabham won going away while his teammate, Bruce McLaren, finished third and took fastest lap -- the youngest until it was beaten 44 years later by none other than Fernando Alonso who was just a day younger. Stirling Moss (BRM) took second. Salvadori's teammate was Carroll Shelby.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: From @NaturalParadigm: If the reason a rule can't be enforced is because there’s overwhelming evidence it isn't enforced evenly, the problem isn't the rule, it's the rulemakers.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: After asking what times Max was doing and being told 32.6, Sergio Perez responded, "So why you telling me to do 33.0? We are pushing without a reason.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: After asking what the fastest lap is and being told we are not worried about that, Max Verstappen responded, "Yeah, but I am."
SCHEDULE: What used to be the season opener, we get to enjoy Australia after various storylines are now in play. Melbourne often created false storylines as the debut race. It will be very interesting to see if Albert Park changes any current ones.
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