F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia - Practice - Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 17, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen expects close competition from rivals in the 2023 Saudi Arabian F1 GP: “It's definitely not like Bahrain"

Max Verstappen expects close competition from his rivals at the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP. The Dutchman topped the time sheets in both free practices on Friday.

Verstappen and Red Bull have already established themselves as the top dogs of 2023, winning Bahrain's season opener in dominant fashion. The two-time world champion left the rest of the grid behind in Sakhir and stormed off to a rather lonely victory.


Given Jeddah's low degradation track, the 25-year-old expects more competition from his rivals Mercedes, Aston Martin, and Ferrari.

🗣️ | Max post FP2:

"Just fine tuning things with the downshifts, we do that all the time."

"We had a positive day, but i think there's still quite a few things we can do better. The long run seemed fairly close to each other, but it's more because of managing the tyres."

Speaking in an interview after FP2, where Sportskeeda was present, Max Verstappen said:

"We had a positive day but i think there's still quite a few things we can do better. The long run seemed fairly close to each other but it's more because of managing the tyres. [The tyres] They don't really let you push around here at the moment, so with a low deg circuit then, I think the lap times are all very close, so it's definitely not like Bahrain"

Bahrain podium finisher Fernando Alonso split the Red Bulls in FP2, showing that there is serious pace in his Aston Martin challenger. It will be interesting to follow the battle between Verstappen and Alonso over the course of the weekend.


Max Verstappen lauded by former Red Bull man

Former Red Bull driver David Coulthard has stated that Max Verstappen distinguishes himself from other drivers due to his rigorous work ethic and fearless attitude.

Verstappen, a two-time world champion, began the 2023 F1 season by winning the opening race from the pole position, demonstrating his superior driving skills.

This transition is just magnifique #F1


Red Bull has once again developed the strongest car on the grid, but this time, Aston Martin seems to be a contender as well, with Fernando Alonso achieving a well-deserved podium finish in Bahrain. Although Alonso's impressive performance surprised many, Verstappen once again proved himself to be the superior driver in the new season.

Speaking at the recent Red Bull Showrun event in Mumbai, India, where Sportskeeda was present, 13-time GP winner David Coulthard gave his two cents on what makes Max Verstappen stand out in a sea of talent. He said:

''Just because he works so hard. His mother was a cart racer, his father was a Formula One driver. He was not given a route to F1, he had to slot it out. Time and again, he has shown that he has a fighting spirit, that he is not frightened by any competitor. His work ethic on the track has given him, along with his natural talent, an edge over his competitors.''

It will be interesting to see whether the Dutchman can secure his third consecutive title in the sport this year.

Edited by
Ritwik Kumar
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