2023 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix – Sunday
“The third Saudi Arabian Grand Prix went largely as we expected it to; both from the point of view of strategies as well as that of tyre behaviour. Eighty per cent of the drivers chose the medium at the start, which ensured maximum flexibility in the event of a race neutralisation – which duly happened for the third time in three years of racing here. The arrival of the Safety Car following Lance Stroll’s retirement coincided with the pit stop window, which meant that the drivers who hadn’t made a stop so far were able to take advantage of this neutralisation to put on the hard tyre. The performance gaps between the compounds also fitted in with our expectations, and that was the case for degradation as well. This was practically nothing on the medium and hard tyres, and quite limited on the soft used by Charles Leclerc: the only driver to have carried out a significant stint on this compound. The absence of degradation was what allowed even the drivers who had fitted the hard tyre before the safety car came out – such as Kevin Magnussen and Oscar Piastri, who completed 42 and 49 laps on it respectively – to push all the way to the end, with both of them pulling off some great passing moves in the closing stages. The medium also showed a lot of consistency, as underlined by Lewis Hamilton, who was able to take advantage of its superior performance compared to the hard in order to get past Carlos Sainz shortly after the re-start.”
THE RACE FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW
- Red Bull sealed its second one-two of the season in Jeddah, with Sergio Perez winning the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix ahead of his team mate Max Verstappen. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso followed the Dutchman and was third. All the drivers on the podium used P Zero White hard C2 tyres for their final stints.
- The night race took place with asphalt temperatures between 29 and 31°C, while ambient temperature remained consistent at 26°C: lower values than those previously seen in FP2 and qualifying.
- The three podium finishers used identical strategies, making their pit stops on the same lap. Perez, Verstappen, and Alonso all swapped from their P Zero Yellow medium C3 starting tyres to the hard tyre on lap 18, under the safety car.
- Only four drivers, all from different teams, chose to start on a tyre other than the medium. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris both selected the P Zero Red soft C4, while Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Logan Sargeant (Williams) went for the hard.
- Max Verstappen set the fastest lap on the hard tyre (1m31.906s) while Lewis Hamilton was the driver who covered most laps on the medium: 32. Hamilton also set the fastest lap for the medium compound, 1m32.941s. Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas established the quickest benchmark for the soft compound, which was a 1m34.384s.
- No fewer than seven drivers set their best lap times of the race on the final lap, with the hard tyre. These included Verstappen – who also set the overall fastest lap, giving himself the extra point that allowed him to stay in the lead of the championship – as well as Alonso and Russell, fighting hard for the final podium place.
BEST OF THE REST: THE ALTERNATIVE STRATEGY
Most team strategies were quite similar. A total of 16 drivers started the race on the medium, as predicted by Pirelli’s simulations. Of those, only the two Alfa Romeo drivers didn’t finish the race on the hard. Bottas did three pit stops, going onto the hard and then the mediums again on lap 17, before fitting the soft 15 laps from the end. Guanyu Zhou stopped before the others and then stopped again during the safety car period to go from hard to medium.
Hamilton and Sargeant finished the race on mediums as they were the only drivers to start on hards. Leclerc and Norris chose a different strategy, beginning the race on the soft and ending it on the hard. Norris was forced to stop just two laps into the race and then went onto the mediums under the safety car, keeping them on until the flag.
The next race will the Australian Grand Prix from March 31 to April 2. The race will start at 08:00 in Europe, which is 15:00 local time in Melbourne. The compounds nominated for Albert Park are the same as those seen in Saudi Arabia: C2 as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow medium and C4 as P Zero Red soft. Formula 2 will run in Melbourne, as well as Formula 3 for the first time: both championships exclusively equipped by Pirelli.
Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 116 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.