2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP qualifying: Winners and Losers

F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia - Qualifying
F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia - Qualifying

Sergio Perez snatched the pole position for the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP as teammate Max Verstappen was sidelidue tod by reliability issues. In a dramatic qualifying session, the pole position favorite Max Verstappen faced elimination in Q2 because of a PU failure. It was, eventually, the second Red Bull that come out on top.

Charles Leclerc was P2 in his Ferrari as the Italian team finally unleashed the true potential of the car. In P3, it was Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard, ensuring a front-row start for Aston Martin as Charles Leclerc picked up a 10-place grid penalty.

After an impressive top 3, George Russell dragged his Mercedes to P4 while teammate Lewis Hamilton had a shocker of a lap that put him in P8. In a qualifying session that was very intense from start to finish, who would be feeling happy about his prospects tomorrow? Also, who would be a bit upset over how things panned out?

Well, let's find out as we take a look at the winners and losers of the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP qualifying.


Red Bull

The 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP weekend has been further proof that Red Bull might just cruise to a title this season. Sergio Perez had almost half a second gap over the rest of the field after his first run. And, not to belittle the Mexican's effort, he's not been within half a second of Max Verstappen all weekend.

Sergio Perez congratulated by his team's principal after taking pole position
Sergio Perez congratulated by his team's principal after taking pole position

The qualifying session saw a catastrophic thing happen to Red Bull's lead driver as he was eliminated in Q2. Yet, everything remained calm. Max did not shout and there was no major sign of despair.

Why? The team knows that it has such an advantage that it can win the race with Max even from P15. Red Bull is in a league of its own right now and its rivals know that as well.


Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton came out this weekend and said that Mercedes was almost 1.5 seconds per lap slower than Red Bull. The remark seemed weird at the time as the German team was within a second of the pole time in Bahrain. Fast forward to qualifying and when you see Lewis get out-qualified by his teammate by a gap of four-tenths, it does raise questions on the driver's side as well.

Lewis Hamilton in action
Lewis Hamilton in action

Russell almost dragged the Mercedes to the second row, a result that would bring a sense of positivity. But if your star driver is four-tenths down on the young driver in the team, it's not a good look. Lewis commands respect everywhere he goes. He's deserved it as well.

He might need to keep an eye on the other cockpit as this is the second race in a row where Russell has got the better of him.


Oscar Piastri

F1 has a new star on the horizon and his name is Oscar Piastri. On a rare session where Lando Norris made a mistake, Oscar Piastri dragged his car into Q3 and will be starting alongside an Alpine and a Mercedes. That drive could be attributed as much to the driver as it should be to the car.

Most importantly, what the young Australian showed in the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP qualifying is that he's not only fast, but he also knows how to deliver under pressure. McLaren made the right choice by selecting Piastri and the proof is there already.



Charles Leclerc could have started the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP on the front row this weekend and has the potential to score major points. However, that's not going to happen as the Ferrari driver has a penalty to serve.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc

More importantly, what has become glaringly obvious for Ferrari this weekend is that the car is just not good enough if the target is winning races. The gap is too big and even on the day Red Bull slipped up with Max's PU issues, Ferrari could not optimize it.

The upgrade packages are going to be crucial for Ferrari in the coming races because if the gap is not reduced, they can kiss the title goodbye after the first few races.



Is McLaren sure it got the concept wrong? If yes, then teams need to get prepared for a more competent McLaren this season. A car that could possibly disrupt the pecking order. Norris almost made it to Q3 in Bahrain. Piastri did make it through to the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP. The car is good and the drivers are excellent.

With the major upgrade package that is supposed to bring significant time on the board, McLaren is going to be a force to be reckoned with.


Pierre Gasly

Gasly was almost eliminated in Q1. He was almost eliminated in Q2 and then he qualified for the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP in P10. It's an improvement from the last race where he qualified P20 but if you compare Gasly's result and put things in context, this one's a bit disappointing.

He's been out-qualified, quite comfortably again by Esteban Ocon. He's been out-qualified by Oscar Piastri in a McLaren and he's not looked half as impressive as he did in the Free Practice sessions.

Piastri starts the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP in P9. Points are possible for the French driver but he would have hoped for a better grid position.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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