The Red Bull team, which started from the front row of the starting grid, achieved the double in the first GP of the 2023 F1 season, with victory number 36 for Max Verstappen, followed by Checo Pérez. But the most exciting event of the race was Fernando Alonso debuting in the Aston Martin team this year, who, with his 41 years, started 5th and came in third. In addition, Alonso was the diver of the day.
Another Spaniard, Carlos Sainz, qualified in fourth position, while his Ferrari teammate, Charles Leclerc, had to retire due to engine problems when he was third. Fifth was Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), followed by Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), George Russell (Mercedes), Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo), Pierre Gasly (Alpine) ninth despite starting last and completing the top 10, Alex Albon (Williams).
Two drivers are debuting in F1 this year: Oscar Piastri in McLaren and the American Logan Sargeant (Williams). This time will be the first Nyck de Vries (Alpha Tauri) competes in an entire season in 2023. He debuted in 2022, replacing Alex Albon in the Italian GP, who underwent appendicitis surgery.
In the grid’s first row, the two Red Bull team drivers came in first, followed by Ferrari, with Max Verstappen starting from the pole position -his 21st in F1-.
Checo Pérez came in 2nd; Charles Leclerc 3rd, Carlos Sainz 4th; and Fernando Alonso 5th. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) finished 6th and 7th, respectively.
Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari had a new control unit (CE) and battery (ES) installed before the race. 19 of the 20 drivers rode a soft kind of tire compound; only Magnussen had a set of hard ones and started 17th on the grid.
At the start, Verstappen kept his pole position, while Leclerc overtook Pérez, Sainz was still fourth, and Hamilton recovered: from 7th to 5th position. Russell overtook Alonso, pushed by his teammate Stroll in a clean hit without damages: Alonso dropped to 6th place and Stroll to 9th.
Gasly was the first driver to change tires on lap 10. On lap 13, while Hamilton went to boxes for the mandatory pit stop, Alonso overtook Russell, becoming the 5th. Leclerc, Sainz, and Russell came in a lap later, followed by Verstappen and Alonso. Stroll entered on the next lap, followed by Perez. Both Red Bull drivers rode soft tires. By then, Alonso had surpassed Bottas and was already sixth. After the pit stops, the order had changed little among the first: Verstappen, Leclerc, Pérez, Sainz, Hamilton, Alonso, and Russell.
By mid-race, the only exciting movement was the overtaking of Pérez to Leclerc. The Red Bull pilot was already 2nd behind his teammate Verstappen. When the second pit stop began, Hamilton, Stroll, Sainz, Russell, and Leclerc came in with an almost identical order, except for Stroll, who overtook Russell and was 7th behind his teammate Alonso. The Spaniard battled with Hamilton, whom he overtook, but then the Mercedes pilot returned to 5th place. One lap later, Alonso managed to overtake Hamilton.
On lap 41, something unexpected happened: Leclerc stopped on the side of the track, warning by radio: “no power, no power,” and the “virtual safety car” showed up. Some pilots took advantage of the situation to get back into the boxes. Verstappen was still leading, followed by his teammate Pérez, with Sainz 3rd, Alonso 4th, and Hamilton 5th, until Alonso stuck to the back of his compatriot’s Ferrari and overtook Sainz. Alonso moved up to third place behind the two Red Bulls. By then, Sainz’s position was in danger as Hamilton was coming very close.
Finally, Max Verstappen crossed the finish line first, followed by his teammate Checo Pérez, with the Spaniards Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz in third and fourth position, respectively. Fifth came to Hamilton, ahead of Stroll, Russell, Bottas, Gasly, and Albon.
The next event will be the Saudi Arabian GP from March 17 to 19.