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Winners and Losers from the F1 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

The dust has settled on the F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - here are the Winners and Losers from the third visit to Jeddah.

Compared to the first two visits to Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Formula 1's third trip was rather tame in comparison. There were no collisions between title rivals, or DRS cat and mouse games into Turn 27 - instead it was an assured, confident drive from Sergio Pérez which handed him his first win of the season and fifth of his career - the fourth on a street track. Max Verstappen provided the spice with his charge from 15th to second and took fastest lap as Fernando Alonso was slapped with a post-race penalty denying him his 100th podium - handing George Russell P3. However, three-and-a-half hours after the race, Alonso's penalty was overturned and his podium reinstated. So plenty of high profile winners and losers and some others hidden away, so let's take a look, starting with Red Bull.

Winners - Red Bull

This utter demolishment of the other 18 cars across the Saudi weekend by Red Bull is more scary than the show they put on in Bahrain. That track features slow, twisty hairpins and heavy traction zones whereas Jeddah is a flat-out blast on the coast of the Red Sea, with one or two slow bits thrown in. At times during the race, Perez and Verstappen were regularly lapping more than a second clear of Class B (Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari) and more than double that to Class C (basically everyone else). It shows that the RB19 is at home on any type of track give the vast differences between Sakhir and Jeddah, and given Perez's swatting off the Verstappen challenge puts the team in a very good place. Can they win every race as Russell claimed two weeks ago? Far from certain, but even at this nascent stage of the season, the fat lady is beginning to clear her throat... What does Christian Horner say? "What we saw today was the pace of our car on this circuit - and I said it is going to take two or three venues to get a really clear [picture] - but that was everything we had today."

Loser - Aston Martin

Converting a two-five grid start to a three-DNF is never a good race, but Aston Martin were the architects of their own downfall. Firstly, they were dummied into pitting Lance Stroll by a phantom call to Carlos Sainz by Ferrari - and were then promptly overcut by both Sainz and Leclerc as the Hard tyre warm-up proved slow, before the Canadian retired mid-way through the stop cycle. Secondly, apparently incorrectly serving Alonso's penalty is a basic operational mistake. Yes teams want to shave off as much time as they can when serving a penalty, but they had access to video footage - the same one the stewards had - yet did not tell Alonso to speed up and build a gap to Russell of 10 seconds. In the end, the team got their podium back and Alonso his third place. It's a situation that the team should not have put themselves in. All in all, a day of growing pains for Aston. You need to be able to take the good days with the bad ones. What did Alonso say? "I think it is a poor show from the FIA today when you cannot apply a penalty 35 laps after the pitstop. They had enough time to really inform about the penalty."

Winner - Mercedes

In Jeddah at least, Mercedes was the third quickest car in the race behind Red Bull and the Alonso Aston. The car was much improved after Friday with Hamilton's contra-strategy slightly paying off after the Safety Car restart. He was the only driver in the top 10 not to start on the Medium tyres, opting for the Hards - and slowly went backwards thereafter. However the Safety Car allowed a switch to happen with him on the Medium and the others on Hards. A nice move on Sainz brought him fifth - which is where he stayed once Russell got on with it. A three-five is probably more than they expected and gives some solace into what has been a difficult start to the season, but until these upgrades and concept changes that have been promised arrive, Mercedes is in a holding pattern. Still sniping for podiums and making a nuisance of themselves is a good place to be at the moment. What does Hamilton say? "The setup was a bit off. I think if I had the setup George had, I would have been in a better position. There are lots to work on, but there are positives to take away."

Loser - Ferrari

In a word? Ouch. Ferrari were a little unlucky with the timing of the Safety Car being deployed, having executed a brilliant overcut on Stroll with both drivers before he retired, allowing those ahead a free pitstop. But on the restart, whatever race pace they had simply disappeared. The top five comfortably dropped them and the Alpine's were never in contention to get among the red cars. Sainz led home Leclerc for a six-seven, but with the team still being conservative over the engine it's been about a bad start as is possible. The F1-75, the SF-23 is certainly not. What did Leclerc say? "Honestly, there wasn't much more in the car today, so that was the best best we could do."

Winner - Kevin Magnussen

While the standout results of 12 months ago have been come in 2023 for Magnussen and Haas, his drive to 10th was a gritty, determined effort. Having been out-qualified yet again by Nico Hulkenberg, Magnussen passed the sister Haas on the opening and put that to good use. His late race battle with Yuki Tsunoda for the final point enlivened a race petering out, finally getting the AlphaTauri on Lap 46 with a well-executed move at Turn 1. What did Magnussen say? "It means a lot. We didn't start the weekend on the right foot, it feels like we didn't start the season on the right foot. But it seemed like we returned, ready to turn things around this weekend."

Loser - Yuki Tsunoda

Tsunoda was a winner in the timing of the Safety Car, getting himself into the Top 10 and looked set to claim a point at least after a bad start to 2023 for AlphaTauri. Boss Franz Tost says he doesn't trust his engineers anymore, but Tsunoda did them proud with a fine drive and did hold off Magnussen's various attacks. Unfortunately for him, with four to go, he lost out and could not take the place back. A pair of 11th place finishes to open the season is respectable and more performance like that should grant him a fourth season in 2023 - but today, after coming so close yet missing out, he is a loser. What did Tsunoda say? "It's frustrating to lose the position with only four laps to go. The team did a really great job, everything went perfectly."

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