It’s only the second race of the 2023 Formula 1 season, but one gets the feeling that if things don’t go better for Mercedes-AMG F1 at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, it’s going to be a long, long season for the Silver Stars. For the second year in a row, they have missed a lot on their car to start the season. With Red Bull Racing and Ferrari picking up almost where they left off at the end of 2022, and Aston Martin looking much better, Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will be crossing their fingers that the changes they are implementing in Jeddah are said to be substantial and noticeable, they are what you need to start moving up the grid and not back down.
Hamilton was particularly critical of the team after the season opener in Bahrain, saying on the BBC’s “Chequered Flag” podcast that he was passed over during development of the 2023 car, in a heat-of-the-moment reaction to the opener.
“I mean, in retrospect, I think looking back, it wasn’t necessarily the best choice of words,” the seven-time F1 world champion admitted to formula1.com. “I still 100% believe in this team, it’s my family and I’ve been here a long time so I don’t plan on going anywhere else. But we all need a kick, we all need to keep going.” “The proof is in the pudding, we’ve seen where the performance is and how people are extracting the performance. Now we’ve got to start making some bold decisions, some big moves, to close the gap on these guys.” “
These guysin this case, he probably means Red Bull and Ferrari, but in particular two-time world champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez.
“I mean, most likely they will run away this year, unless Ferrari can stop them. We’ll wait and see,” Hamilton said. “We’re hopeful that we can close the gap. At that point, it’s probably too late in terms of fighting for a championship, but we can still turn heads, hopefully.”
How to watch the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
- Date: Sunday, March 19
- Location: Jeddah Corniche Circuit 3.87 miles (6.175 km), 27 turns – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- Time: 12:55 p.m. Eastern Time
- TELEVISION: ESPN, ESPN+
- Stream: fuboTV (try free)
what to expect
Expect Pirelli to bring similar tire compounds to what we saw in Bahrain, so the strategy may be similar to the Bahrain GP, with the favorites opting for a two-stop strategy, but a three-stop is not out of the question.
Once again, there will be three DRS zones (the first starts at Turn 19 and ends at Turn 22, the second just before Turn 25 and ends at Turn 27, and the third just after the hairpin turn 27 down the front straight to the turn). 1).
Yes, there are 27 turns at Jeddah, but it’s considered a relatively high-speed track thanks to a series of wrist-spinning right-left turns, particularly from the exit of Turn 2 through Turn 12.
Around the paddock
Aston-Martin: Lance Stroll told formula1.com that he is still “not 100 per cent” but definitely improved compared to how he felt before the Bahrain race.
Ferrari: Charles Leclerc faces a 10-point grid penalty in Saudi Arabia, thanks to the Scuderia being forced to fit a new electronic power unit (the other failed in Bahrain, resulting in Leclerc’s retirement), and though The Monegasque admitted that it wasn’t the best way to start a season, the team just needs to deal with it.
“This weekend we are starting on the right foot, but our goal is to try to do something special,” Leclerc told formula1.com. “I like this challenge of starting a little bit further back and trying to do something special and get back to the front as quickly as possible.”
McLaren: If Mercedes and Ferrari are worried about how they started 2023, McLaren must be in full-blown crisis mode, right? A disastrous pre-season testing period resulted in a troubled race in Bahrain and left Oscar Piastri with a DNF and Lando Norris making six pit stops en route to a forgettable finish. Norris has played down comments that the team is in crisis and is confident they can catch up with Alfa Romeo and a few others for the lower points-paying places on the grid.