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2023 F1 story so far: Rampant Verstappen masks drama on and off track

RacingNews365 brings you a race-by-race recap of the 2023 F1 season so far.

Max Verstappen has raced into an astonishing 125-point lead over teammate Sergio Perez ahead of the second half of the F1 season.

The Dutchman is well on his way to a third consecutive Drivers' title after a stunning run of form as Red Bull dominate the field.

But there has been plenty of drama on and off track and here, RacingNews365 provides a race-by-race guide to the season so far.

Bahrain Grand Prix

Pre-season testing indicated Red Bull had the upper hand over its rivals and qualifying for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix confirmed those fears, with Verstappen three-tenths up on Charles Leclerc in third.

The Ferrari driver made his way past Perez into second at the start, though the Mexican would retake position on lap 26. Leclerc would fail to finish with a PU issue as the Scuderia's troubles from last year looked to have translated through the winter.

Verstappen was commanding in front to finish 12 seconds ahead of his teammate, with Fernando Alonso finishing third on debut for Aston Martin, 39 seconds adrift.

Alfa Romeo was the best of the non-top four teams, whilst McLaren endured a dismal opening round with rookie Oscar Piastri lasting only 13 laps and Lando Norris forced to pit six times with an issue of his own.

Result Race - Bahrain

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Drivers' standings after Bahrain Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 25
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 18
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 15
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 12
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 10

Constructors' standings after Bahrain Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 43
2 Aston Martin 23
3 Mercedes 16
4 Ferrari 12
5 Alfa Romeo 4

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Perez sparked hope that there would be a battle for the Drivers' title this year despite Red Bull's dominance with pole and the win in Saudi Arabia.

This was largely helped by Verstappen being hit with an issue in qualifying and starting only 15th, though the Dutchman surged through the field to finish second.

Alonso overcame a five-second penalty to finish third ahead of Mercedes' George Russell, though was assessed a further hit having been adjudged to have served his original punishment incorrectly.

This was overturned after an appeal, giving Aston Martin a second podium of the season.

Lewis Hamilton was fifth, with Sainz and Leclerc ahead of Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, whilst Kevin Magnussen scored for Haas in 10th.

Result Race - Saudi Arabian

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Drivers' standings after Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 44
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 43
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 30
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 20
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 20

Constructors' standings after Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 87
2 Aston Martin 38
3 Mercedes 38
4 Ferrari 26
5 Alpine 8
			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

Australian Grand Prix

A chaotic end to the Australian Grand Prix left Sainz furious and Aston Martin gleeful.

A late red flag and subsequent restart led to contact between the Spaniard and compatriot Alonso, earning Sainz a five-second penalty.

But collisions behind that saw both Alpines wreck caused what was essentially a race-ending red flag, save for a processional lap behind the safety car. This meant the penalty would drop Sainz outside of the points.

Before that, Mercedes had pressed Verstappen in the early stages of the race with Russell taking the early lead, only to be set back by the timing of a safety car after Alex Albon crashed for Williams.

The Mercedes would end the race on fire, but teammate Hamilton would stick around to claim runner-up, ahead of Alonso.

Lance Stroll earned his best finish of the season thus far with fourth, ahead of Perez - who had fought from the back after an errant qualifying.

Lando Norris gave McLaren fans something to shout about in sixth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Piastri, whilst Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top 10.

Result Race - Australian

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Drivers' standings after Australian Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 69
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 54
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 45
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 38
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 20

Constructors' standings after Australian Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 123
2 Aston Martin 65
3 Mercedes 56
4 Ferrari 26
5 McLaren 12
			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Azerbaijan Grand Prix [Sprint event]

Leclerc would take the first non-Red Bull pole position of the year at the Baku City Circuit, but Ferrari's battle with race pace would cost him in the Sprint.

That would go to Perez as he looked to make up for his Australian issues, with a furious Verstappen settling for third having been damaged by contact with Russell on lap one.

The race itself was far from a classic, with Perez leading home Verstappen for a Red Bull one-two.

Leclerc held off Alonso for a first Ferrari podium of the campaign, with Sainz completing the first five.

Hamilton finished sixth with Stroll the only other within a minute of Verstappen, as Russell, Norris and Tsunoda rounded out the top 10.

Oh, and there was that Ocon incident on the final lap as he entered the pits...

Result Race - Azerbaijan

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Drivers' standings after Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 93
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 87
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 60
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 48
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 34

Constructors' standings after Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 180
2 Aston Martin 87
3 Mercedes 76
4 Ferrari 62
5 McLaren 14
			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

Miami Grand Prix

Leclerc failed to follow up his form as two crashes before the race left his hopes in tatters as F1 returned to Miami for its second race around the Hard Rock Stadium.

His second brought an early end to Q3, leaving Verstappen without a time and starting ninth.

Perez would start from pole but his teammate put on a masterclass to scythe his way to the top, eventually winning by five seconds and stretch his championship lead.

Alonso again secured a podium ahead of a Mercedes, this time Russell, with Sainz fifth, even with a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Hamilton finished ahead of Leclerc, with Gasly, Ocon and Magnussen also scoring.

Result Race - Miami

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Drivers' standings after Miami Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 119
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 105
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 75
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 44

Constructors' standings after Miami Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 224
2 Aston Martin 102
3 Mercedes 96
4 Ferrari 78
5 McLaren 14

Monaco Grand Prix

Nothing is ever easy at the Monaco Grand Prix, as this year's renewal proved.

Perez's title charge began to whimper with a crash at Sainte Devote in Q1, leaving him at the back of the field. An incident-packed race would see him fail to score.

It looked for all the world that Verstappen would easily take the win on the streets of the principality but the threat of rain saw the Red Bull driver forced to eke out a mammoth first stint on Medium tyres.

Alonso, on the Hards, was far more comfortable and remained within striking distance should the rain come... which it did.

But with the showers initially localised, Aston Martin pitted Alonso onto new slicks, which a lap later was proven a mistake as the deluge drenched the highest point of the circuit.

Verstappen was even afforded a bang with the barriers at Portier before making a switch to grooved tyres, eventually triumphing by 28 seconds.

Ocon gave Alpine the perfect tonic for a public dressing down dished out by CEO Laurent Rossi in Miami, finishing third having qualified in the top three.

Mercedes finished fourth and fifth with Hamilton ahead of the penalised Russell in the heavily upgraded W14s, with Leclerc sixth.

Gasly and Sainz came next, whilst McLaren's strategy allowed both drivers to score - Norris before Piastri.

Result Race - Monaco

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Drivers' standings after Monaco Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 144
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 105
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 93
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 69
5 George Russell Mercedes 50

Constructors' standings after Monaco Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 249
2 Aston Martin 120
3 Mercedes 119
4 Ferrari 90
5 Alpine 35
			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

Spanish Grand Prix

A bizarre qualifying session led to a mixed-up grid as Leclerc dropped out in Q1 and Perez and Russell failed at the second hurdle.

Verstappen led Sainz and Norris into Turn 1 but contact with Hamilton led to the McLaren driver pitting at the end of the first lap, ruining his race.

Russell made a stunning start from 12th to leap to seventh at the start, though he was perhaps lucky to escape a penalty for exceeding track limits.

Aston Martin experienced its worst race of teh season with a lack of pace leaving Stroll and Alonso behind both Red Bulls, both Mercedes and Sainz's Ferrari.

Mercedes' upgrades showed signs of promise as Hamilton and Russell secured a double podium finish, with Perez recovering to fourth.

Ocon and Gasly sandwiched Zhou for the minor points, with Leclerc unable to reach the top 10.

Result Race - Spanish

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Drivers' standings after Spanish Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 170
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 117
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 99
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 87
5 George Russell Mercedes 65

Constructors' standings after Spanish Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 287
2 Mercedes 152
3 Aston Martin 134
4 Ferrari 100
5 Alpine 40
Verstappen Russell Hamilton Spain podium © XPBimages

Canadian Grand Prix

Another failure to reach Q3 for Perez pointed towards a third world title for Verstappen after the Canadian Grand Prix, with the gap stretched to a seemingly unassailable 69 points by the end of the weekend.

Not even CCTV issues in FP1 and rain on Saturday could thwart Verstappen, who managed the race from the front to finish 10 seconds up the road from Alonso in second.

The win was Verstappen's 41st in F1, tying Ayrton Senna's tally, as well as Red Bull's 100th in the sport.

Hamilton again secured a Mercedes podium with Ferrari duo Leclerc and Sainz recovering from 10th and 11th on the grid to finish ahead of Perez, who rose from 12th.

Albon made the most of Williams' upgrades to finish a stunning seventh, with Ocon, Stoll and Valtteri Bottas rounding out the points.

Russell retired with a braking issue, having been lucky to escape terminal damage earlier in the race having hit the wall at Turn 9, before limping back to the pits for urgent repairs.

Result Race - Canadian

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Drivers' standings after Canadian Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 195
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 126
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 117
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 102
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 68

Constructors' standings after Canadian Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 321
2 Mercedes 167
3 Aston Martin 154
4 Ferrari 122
5 Alpine 44

Austrian Grand Prix

Another qualifying failure for Perez left him with plenty to do on race day, but his Sprint Saturday was much improved.

Tensions flared between the two Red Bull teammates in the 100km event, however, as they twice came close to touching on the run to Turn 3 in wet conditions.

As Perez ran wide, Haas' Hulkenberg surged through into second, though his Intermediates would wear quickly to leave him defenceless.

With the track drying, Russell led the switch to dry tyres whilst the top six stayed out on track - eventually fighting from 15th on the grid to eighth.

Verstappen held on for the eight-point victory ahead of Perez and Sainz, whilst Stroll headed Alonso, Hulkenberg and Ocon for the remaining points.

The Dutchman would take a comfortable victory in the main race, finding enough time to pit on the penultimate lap of the race to secure the fastest lap.

Leclerc was second to take a much-needed podium for Ferrari, finishing ahead of Perez, who had fought through from 15th.

A radical upgrade package from McLaren saw Norris take fourth, whilst Mercedes could manage only seventh and eighth.

The race was overshadowed by track limit infringements that saw nine drivers hit with penalties and over 1,200 laps deleted.

Result Race - Austrian

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Drivers' standings after Austrian Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 229
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 148
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 131
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 106
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 82

Constructors' standings after Austrian Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 377
2 Mercedes 178
3 Aston Martin 175
4 Ferrari 154
5 Alpine 47
			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

British Grand Prix

McLaren's upgrade put Norris and Piastri firmly in the mix as the duo took second and third in qualifying behind Verstappen.

The Silverstone crowd was sent into raptures by a first-corner move for the lead from Norris, demoting Verstappen.

But it took only four laps for the Red Bull to return to the top spot, before taking the fastest lap and easing to victory.

A safety car entering the final quarter of the race, caused by a Haas failure for Magnussen, threw strategy in the air and Hamilton was able to jump Piastri - who had already pitted - by making his own stop.

But try as he did to make his way past Norris for second, the seven-time champion was forced to settle for third.

Perez recovered from 15th on the grid to finish sixth, whilst Albon secured four points for Williams, finishing ahead of both Ferraris.

Result Race - British

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Drivers' standings after British Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 255
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 156
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 137
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 121
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 83

Constructors' standings after British Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 411
2 Mercedes 203
3 Aston Martin 181
4 Ferrari 157
5 McLaren 59
			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Hungarian Grand Prix

AlphaTauri dropped de Vries in favour of Daniel Ricciardo after a disappointing 10 races, with the swap placing further pressure on Perez who, by now, had gone five races without a Q3 appearance.

The Mexican crashed five minutes into first practice as his struggles looked likely to continue but, to his credit, he recovered to reach Q3 - albeit only ninth on the grid.

Hamilton sprung a surprise in qualifying with a scintillating lap to take his first pole position since Saudi Arabia in 2021, though the Mercedes was no match for Verstappen in race trim.

A near-collision at Turn 1 allowed Lando Norris to slip past, with Hamilton eventually finishing fourth.

Perez was on a mission from ninth, with a number of robust moves capping off an aggressive drive to third - a performance Horner described as a 'statement drive'.

A game of skittles on the first lap involving Zhou, Ricciardo, Ocon and Gasly left both Alpines out of the race for the second event in a row and preceded a surprise shake-up at the French manufacturer.

Result Race - Hungarian

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Drivers' standings after Hungarian Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 281
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 171
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 139
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 133
5 George Russell Mercedes 90

Constructors' standings after Hungarian Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 452
2 Mercedes 223
3 Aston Martin 184
4 Ferrari 167
5 McLaren 87

Belgian Grand Prix

Whilst Piastri had put his upgrades to good effect in the two races previous, the Belgian Sprint was a breakthrough performance for the rookie.

The McLaren driver qualified second for the 100km Sprint and overtook Verstappen in the pit stop phase as drivers dived for Intermediates after a Safety Car start - following delays caused by a heavy rain shower.

But Verstappen was ultimately too good and made his move after another Safety Car caused by Alonso's incident at Pouhon, eventually heading the Australian at the line.

Gasly was third for Alpine, a day after the team announced the departure of Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer and Team Enstone stalwart Alan Permane.

Despite taking pole in qualifying, Verstappen would start sixth by virtue of a gearbox change.

The Dutchman was back in the lead by lap 18, however, overtaking teammate Perez on the Kemmel Straight.

Leclerc finished third having started on pole, with Hamilton and Alonso well adrift in fourth and fifth.

Tsunoda finished 10th to secure the first points for AlphaTauri since Azerbaijan, whilst Piastri and Sainz both retired after making contact at the first corner.

Result Race - Belgian

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Drivers' standings after Belgian Grand Prix

Position Driver Team Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 314
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 189
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 149
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 148
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 99

Constructors' standings after Belgian Grand Prix

Position Team Points
1 Red Bull 503
2 Mercedes 247
3 Aston Martin 196
4 Ferrari 191
5 McLaren 103

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