A look back on the FORMULA 1 STC SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX 2022 – the first of many returns to Jeddah!

    What a way to start!

    As we prepare for the 2023 F1 season, let’s take a moment to look back and remember the thrills, spills, and sheer adrenaline of Formula 1’s second visit to Saudi Arabia for the Formula 1 stc Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2022.

    Red Bull’s Sergio Perez led at the start, while his teammate Max Verstappen — from fourth on the grid — brilliantly passed Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz for third at the first corner. In the opening stages of the race the order was Perez, Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Verstappen, and Sainz until the Safety Car appeared after an incident with Williams’ Nicholas Latifi left him in the wall at the last corner. Charles Leclerc took the lead under the Safety car on lap 17 and when the track was clear and racing resumed, he kept a gap of between one and two seconds to Verstappen behind him. 

    Behind the leaders there were exciting battles throughout the field to keep the thousands of spectators who filled the Jeddah Corniche Circuit grandstands entertained. Many were watching the progress of Mercedes’ seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who had started a lowly 15th on the starting grid. He chose not to pit when the Safety Car appeared and ran as high as sixth at half distance.

    But his race was ruined by retirements on lap 37. Firstly, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso (who was engaged in a cat-and-mouse duel with his team-mate Esteban Ocon) suffered a mechanical problem in which he reported a loss of power. Then the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo also lost drive and slowed as he headed for the pits, neutralising the race with a Virtual Safety Car and scuppering Hamilton’s chances of climbing any further. He finished in tenth place.

    In the closing stages, the battle between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen had the crowd on their feet, as they swapped positions under the floodlights around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Verstappen made his first move for the lead on lap 42, passing Leclerc into the final corner. But with the aid of DRS, Leclerc reclaimed the position back into Turn 1 on the next lap and the Jeddah crowd cheered with delight.

    The pair continued to switch and battle for the lead until a coming-together between the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll and Alex Albon’s Williams at Turn 1 two laps from the end of the race brought out the yellow flags. This meant Leclerc had to settle for second, losing out by just half a second. His Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz joined them on the podium in third.

    It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia, yet here we are already getting ready to line up the grid for in March 2023 and the third race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit!

    To get your adrenaline pumping, here are 5 things you can look forward to in the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship season.

    1. 3 new rookies

    Three young drivers will be seeing their dreams come true as they officially join the grid for their first ever Formula 1 season.

    21-year-old Australian Oscar Piastri is set to be the youngest driver on the grid as he joins McLaren, replacing Daniel Ricciardo for the 2023 season. Piastri’s record is impressive, winning both his F3 and F2 rookie seasons consecutively before signing as Alpine reserve driver for 2022.

    Dutch driver Nyck de Vries is no stranger to F1 having taken part in many tests for Mercedes and Aston Martin and even stood in for Williams driver Alex Albon at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix. He will be joining Alpha Tauri for the 2023 season.

    For the first time since 2015, an American driver will be driving in F1 as Logan Sargeant joins Williams Racing for the 2023 season. Logan is a Williams Driver Academy graduate just like fellow 2023 driver Lance Stroll and his predecessor Nicholas Latifi.

    2. Verstappen aiming for #3

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will have only one thing on his mind entering the 2023 season: Continuing his winning streak and securing his third World Championship title. His first title may have been surrounded by controversary, but no one can deny the Dutchman has serious skill behind the wheel and on the track. 

    His consistency was phenomenal during the 2022 season, regularly battling both drivers of the very competitive Ferrari and beating the all-time record of the most wins in a season. Will he win his third consecutive World Championship in 2023? It’s all to play for. 

    3. Mercedes fight back to the front

    After years of dominating the field, Mercedes struggled to regularly reach the top step of the podium during the 2022 season with George Russell securing the only Mercedes win at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Even more surprisingly, the 2022 season was the first time that 7-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton did not win a Grand Prix.

    Will Mercedes make a comeback in 2023?

    4. Ferrari’s new leadership ready for another battle

    Ferrari started the season off exceptionally well with Charles Leclerc winning the season opener at Bahrain Grand Prix and teammate Carlos Sainz securing second place – ahead of both Mercedes and Red Bulls. However, this early high was quickly diminished throughout the rest of the season as a result unreliability issues, unfortunate incidents and what many believe were strategy mistakes that fundamentally cost them in the battle for the championship. 

    Going into the 2023 season, Ferrari will have a new team principal who will no doubt want to put Ferrari back at the top, but can the team overcome their 2022 issues?

    5. The Driver re-shuffle

    Every year, the F1 driver reshuffle always delivers some interesting changes in team and driver dynamics and the new 2023 line up is no exception.

    Aston Martin said goodbye to one World Champion at the end of 2022 when Sebastian Vettel retired, only to replace him with another as Fernando Alonso made the shock move from Alpine. 

    As a result, Alpine will welcome Pierre Gasly as he moves from Alpha Tauri to join Estaban Ocon in fronting the now fully French team.

    Formula 1 veteran, Nico Hulkenberg is also making a return to the starting grid, partnering with Kevin Magnussen to lead the Haas F1 team for 2023.  

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