Formula One Power Rankings 2023 - Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Sergio Perez is officially a race winner in 2023 but while Red Bull continues to dominate other teams are struggling to cope with the new normal.

The fastest race on the Formula One calendar was entertaining once again with plenty of drama impacting both Qualifying and race day, as Sergio Perez took home his first win of the season at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, early season reliability was called into question with five teams replacing engine or gearbox parts throughout the weekend or experiencing issues on race day.

Last week's rankings are in brackets.

1 - Red Bull Racing (1)

It should come as no surprise that Red Bull's dominance continues, which they demonstrated throughout the weekend. Most of their competition concurs that the RB19 looks ridiculously speedy and resoundingly unbeatable, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez comfortably taking first and second respectively in Free Practice 1 and 3. Only Fernando Alonso managed to get between the two drivers during Free Practice 3.

The real drama in Red Bull's dominance came during qualifying. Early in Q2, Verstappen encountered issues with his gearbox which forced him to bow out of the session after only completing one lap. His posted time of 1:49.953 was over two seconds slower than the next car, pushing him all the way down to 15th, and giving teammate Checo smooth sailing to snatch pole position for the second time in Saudi Arabia.

Despite his low starting position, it was no challenge for Verstappen to get back to the front of the pack, only taking 25 laps to get to second place. However, he still proved no match to Checo, who remained in front and finished in first with a five-second lead over the Dutchman who nabbed fastest lap on the final lap of the race.

2 - Aston Martin (2)

It was another good, if not more tumultuous, week for Aston Martin, who continue to impress in Saudi Arabia. Both cars had strong showings throughout all three free practices, remaining on top of a closely packed midfield.

Due to a 10-place penalty for Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso found himself in the front row after qualifying in third place, while Lance Stroll qualified in sixth.

What proceeded was an eventful race, with Alonso taking the lead at the first corner, taking advantage of the AMR23's impressive speed. Hopes for a double points finish were dashed early on in the race, with Stroll having to retire in lap 18 due to engine failure. Despite being able to safely stop his car near the run-off area, the FIA still found it necessary to deploy a safety car, giving the rest of the field a free pit stop.

The drama did not stop there, as Alonso's 100th-podium celebrations were cut short by a delayed 10-second penalty doled out by the FIA for incorrectly serving a 5-second penalty during the race. In a move reminiscent of his former teammate, Alonso was found to have incorrectly lining up in his grid box, leading to the subsequent cascade of penalties. Alonso's trophy was delivered to 4th-place finisher George Russell for less than an hour before the decision was overturned upon appeal, reinstating the Spaniard to third place.

3 - Mercedes (3)

After weeks of bemoaning the W14 and muttering about bringing a brand-new car in May, the minor adjustments that Mercedes made coming up to qualifying really did make a difference for the drivers. The constant tweaking to the car was reflected in their free practice results, where it was clear in the standings that data-gathering was the priority.

Both drivers made it to Q3 with no issue, with George Russell qualifying in fourth and Lewis Hamilton in eighth. While it was clear that the Mercedes' pace issues made them no match against Red Bull and Aston Martin, the car still sailed ahead of the likes of Ferrari.

Russell's fourth-place finish behind Alonso shows promise, while Lewis's 5.199-second finish behind his teammate is reflective of his struggle to connect with his car. With larger upgrade packages on the way, it will be interesting to see how Mercedes fares down the line.

4 - Alpine (7)

After a dramatic first weekend for Alpine, the all-French team looked relieved to fly under the radar and into the points at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon adapted well to the first street circuit on the calendar for 2023, maximising the practice sessions to experiment with long stints to test the hard and medium tyres and find the right areas of the track for single lap pace.

Come qualifying the attention was off the team 'dubbed best of the rest' in 2022, Gasly and Ocon both snuck into Q3 without any troubles, with Ocon qualifying ahead of his teammate in seventh, while Gasly qualified in 10th.

The race got off to a turbulent start for Gasly, with the 27-year-old, clipping Piastri's front wing however he came away from the incident entirely unscathed and avoided any wrath from race control. Fans have waited all season to see what would happen the first time the French duo raced alongside one another, however, both were on their best behaviour creating a healthy buffer inside the top 10 between the top teams and the DRS train of Tsunoda, Hulkenberg and Magnussen.

5 - Ferrari (6)

The pain for Ferrari fans started almost immediately in Jeddah with word coming out that Charles Leclerc would be taking a 10-place grid penalty at just the second race of the 23-race season. The Ferrari sandbagging rumours quickly returned after disappointing practice sessions with talk of resistance from the engineers to turn the engine power up to give the drivers more confidence in the fast-paced circuit ahead of qualifying.

Ferrari looked more like themselves in qualifying however, with the engine power restored to 100 per cent giving Leclerc and Carlos Sainz the opportunity to maximise the straight-line speed of the cars. Leclerc was second only to Perez in Q3 while Sainz happily took a bump up the grid to start in fourth after a fifth-placed finish in qualifying.

Unfortunately for Ferrari fans, race day showed that Ferrari was unable to compensate for the advancements the other top teams made with their cars between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Leclerc starting on soft tyres was able to make up a lot of ground early, however after switching to hard tyres was stuck behind his teammate for the remainder of the race and Sainz struggled to defend against both Hamilton and Verstappen.

6 - Williams (5)

For a weekend filled with disappointment, a lot of positives could be taken away from the Williams garage. With expectations high that the car could push the limits on the fastest circuit of the season Albon showed signs early in the practice sessions that Williams was a chance to steal a couple of points.

Those chances were dampened after a poor qualifying session with Logan Sargeant losing an impressive lap time for exceeding track limits on turn 27, crossing the pit exit line coming out of the turn and unable to set a second lap time was only permitted to race by the stewards thanks to his decent practice session times. Albon also lost out in the first round of qualifying, unable to get down a second lap time due to yellow flags caused by his teammate at the end of the session forcing Albon to start in 17th.

Things went from bad to worse on Sunday with Albon forced to retire the car on lap 27 due to a breaks issue and forced to crawl back to the pits. Sargeant continued to show that he's not just the token American in the field however was unable to harness the same strengths from the car as Albon was able to ultimately finishing in 16th.

7 - Alpha Tauri (8)

A lot was working for Alpha Tauri at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with Yuki Tsunoda continuing to step up as the first driver for the Red Bull sister team. Both cars fared well on the first day of practice however, in free practice three things weren't quite right with the mechanics working on Nyck de Vries' car for the entire session rendering him unable to set a lap time ahead of qualifying, leaving all the data gathering up to Tsunoda.

Qualifying wasn't much better for either driver with De Vries setting a lap time of 1:30.244 to qualify in 18th while Tsunoda was 0.275 seconds quicker to start 16th on the grid.

On race day Tsunoda showed his strengths in the midfield defending against Magnussen and Hulkenberg for a large chunk of the race, however, lost out to the Dane on lap 47 just missing out on the points for the second race in a row. Meanwhile, De Vries returned to his place as the top-performing rookie beating Piastri and Sargaent by eight seconds.

8 - Haas (9)

It was no secret that the Jeddah Corniche Circuit is one of the favoured tracks for the team at Haas and once again Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg outperformed in separate areas.

Hulkenberg beat out Magnussen in single lap pace in all three practice sessions, just edging out his teammate by 0.217 seconds. However, Magbussed starred in the race picking up Haas' first points of the season and leading the attack on Tsunoda in the late stages of the race to earn his place in the points.

9 - Alfa Romeo (4)

Few cars were less suited to the high-speed circuit in Jeddah than the Alfa Romeo, both Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu were a touch off the pace from the front of the pack finishing outside the top 10 in all three practice sessions.

Things seemed to look better in qualifying with both drivers earning a spot in Q2 however Bottas was over two-tenths of a second out of Q3 while Zhou had a far narrower margin missing out by 0.05 seconds.

Things looked even worse for the Alfa Romeos in the race with Bottas potentially picking up floor damage in the opening lap from a piece of carbon fibre from one of the McLarens' front wings. Stuck at the back Bottas was the last-place finisher in 18th and was the only driver to finish still lapped by Perez, while Zhou was stuck behind Tsunoda and the Haas pair for most of the race.

10 - McLaren (10)

The McLaren garage continues to look like an absolute mess despite all appearances of team unity, neither driver can be happy that they had a hand in the team's worst start to the season since 2017.

It wasn't until Free Practice Three that either car managed to put up a top 10 time with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri only able to be separated by three-hundredths of a second. Qualifying was nothing short of a disaster for Norris who damaged his front wheel coming out of the corners ending his session with five minutes to go, however, Piastri managed to nab a spot in Q3 with the ninth-fastest time to start eighth on the grid thanks to the Leclerc penalty.

All it took was one lap to ruin Piastri's day however, losing part of his front wing in the opening corners of the race to plummet down the order to replace his front wing, followed by Norris entering the pits to replace his damaged front wing. The pair were stuck at the back for most of the race with Piastri only getting ahead of Logan Sargeant in the final laps of the race to finish in 15th while Norris finished in 17th.