The 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP will have a Red Bull in pole position but it won't be of Max Verstappen. The Dutch driver will start the race in P15. Just like him, Charles Leclerc, owing to a 10-place grid penalty will be starting the race in P12. This is Sergio Perez's second pole position, both of them have been in Jeddah.
What can we expect from the Mexican in the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP? More importantly, what can we expect from the race on Sunday? Who is going to win? How will Mercedes fare? What's going to happen in the midfield?
Let's try to answer these questions in our predictions for the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP.
#5 The race is going to be action-packed and unpredictable
Ok, now this particular prediction is for the fans! Buckle your seat belts for this one as this is going to be a ride. Expect an action-packed race where there are going to be stoppages in terms of VSC and Safety cars. There might even be a red flag around the corner.
We will be racing on a circuit that is the fastest street circuit in the world. With that distinction comes the crash-prone nature of the track. Just for instance, a 20-lap sprint race in F2 on Saturday yielded two safety cars. Expect something similar this time around as well.
#4 Midfield is anybody's game
Talking about the midfield. Well, it's hard to pick which team will have a better performance level as compared to the others. What's evident right now is that Alfa Romeo tends to have a strong race pace, while Haas does not. So the Swiss team might be the one making up places in the race.
To add to this, Williams is another team that might be doing a much better job than expected because of the sensational straight line efficiency of the car. McLaren has been a surprise as well with Oscar Piastri starting the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP inside the top 10.
All in all, the midfield is as unpredictable as it could be at this stage and it would be hard to make a prediction on how these cars stack up in the race.
#3 Alpine could be the dark horse
Alpine's long-run pace was almost stunning on Friday. The short-run pace was nothing to be scoffed at either. However, there was one thing about the short run that many might have missed, the Alpine drivers arguably struggled the most when it came to getting the tires up to temperature.
Both Gasly and Ocon got their fastest laps on their 7th or 8th lap of that low-fuel stint. Even in the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP qualifying, both drivers were forced to do extra preparation laps in order to get the tires in the right window.
There is a scenario where the Alpines are kinder on their tires than the other cars, including Mercedes. If that is the case, we might see both Ocon and Gasly challenge the likes of Russell and Hamilton on Sunday.
#2 Fernando Alonso on the podium
As we mentioned earlier, the race is going to be chaotic and there are going to be stoppages and unexpected twists and turns. In such a race, you need a driver who is quick on his feet for strategy, that is calm enough to not make mistakes under pressure, and who knows what needs to be done in tricky situations.
The driver that fits the description is Fernando Alonso. When it comes to race acumen and race awareness, Alonso has no one even coming close to him in this ability. In a race where one has to constantly think on his feet, expect Alonso to be the driver that shines.
In terms of performance, the Aston Martin is probably not going to win the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP. Having said that, don't count Alonso out in a race that could be unpredictable. We're predicting a podium for Fernando Alonso but we won't be surprised if he ends up winning the race as well.
#1 Max Verstappen wins the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP
Who would have ever thought that picking Max Verstappen to win the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP was going to be a bold prediction? Well, this is F1 and things change quickly. Verstappen is starting the race in P15. In a straightforward race, Verstappen could finish on the podium.
Having said that, in a race where we could see multiple stoppages, the gap between the leader will continue to diminish. With the kind of pace advantage that Verstappen appears to have on everyone on the grid, plus the racing-friendly nature of the Jeddah-Corniche circuit, a win for Verstappen is still on the table. He is our pick to be the driver that takes the chequered flag at the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP.