On Sunday, Mexican Sergio Pérez powered to his fifth career Grand Prix victory at the 2023 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as Oracle Red Bull Racing teammate Max Verstappen brilliantly fought his way through from 15th on the grid to grab second place behind him and the fastest lap.
Pérez started on pole with Fernando Alonso overtaking him off the start line, only to be handed a five-second penalty which allowed 33-year-old Pérez to take the lead as Verstappen picked off the field to move second behind his colleague just before the halfway point of the race.
Verstappen tried hard to close the gap and recorded the fastest lap on the last lap to bank second place and a one-point lead over Pérez heading to the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on April 2.
Max Verstappen, Driver, Red Bull Racing
The beginning of the race was a bit tricky. It was hard to follow the train of cars because of the very low grip. At one point, it all settled down a bit, I could move forward, and the safety car helped a little. It was about being calm and overtaking the cars one by one. In general, P2 was always the target today. Today was about recovering what was possible. If I had qualified P1, then today would have looked very different. I was catching Checo towards the end of the race, but we calculated it wouldn’t be enough to make up the gap to him by the end. I started to feel a vibration in the laps where I was catching and trying to push. I started to feel some instability in the car. Sometimes it’s better to tell yourself to bring that P2 home. As a Team, we have to work on ensuring both cars are reliable because we have a very fast car, but I still think we can do a better job. I would like a clean weekend in Melbourne to maximise everything we can. I am happy with how it turns out, but it is still a long season.
Sergio Pérez, Driver, Red Bull Racing:
I had a wicked race – a new word I learned this week! I didn’t have a great start, but after I got back around Fernando, I created a good gap between the rest of the field and me… until the safety car came out, and I was reminded of Jeddah 2022… It was a new race after the safety car, though, and I’m happy I could build a gap again and then keep it, even when Max was pushing at the end. Everyone in Milton Keynes and at the track has built a fantastic car for us this season. I love being a part of this Team because of how we push and deliver. I’m so proud of us. The Team is working at such a high level, so it’s great to be a part of it. Ultimately, we must remember it’s a long season, but tonight was a massive team result.
CHRISTIAN HORNER – CEO and Team Principal, Red Bull Racing
What a race! All credit to the Team today. They’ve built an incredible car. That, coupled with some truly fantastic driving, has made for the best start to a season in our history, consecutive 1-2 finishes. Max had a mountain to climb, overcoming a significant deficit, but with over half the race to go, was already in P4. Similarly, Checo turned in an equally outstanding performance, perhaps the best drive I have ever seen from him. They were both going flat out, hard at it. Both drivers were free to race, and they went for it. Max secured the fastest lap, and Checo came away with the victory. It was an exemplary performance from both drivers, the team at the track and everyone back at the factory. A tremendous amount of work goes into a race such as this, and it is the epitome of a team performing at the top of its game. We won’t rest on it, though. Australia is just around the corner. It is a track that has not been kind to us in the past, so we want to ensure we are prepared, just as we were here, to give us the best chance of success and another first-class performance.