Defending world champion Max Verstappen head to Jeddah as the outright first choice.

Formula 1’s biggest-ever season returns to action as Saudi Arabia hosts the second round (Saudi Arabian GP) of the calendar. Despite an exciting qualifying session, Red Bull’s and Max Verstappen’s unreal dominance gave the F1 2023 season a stale start.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix sprints on March 19 at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Jeddah’s street circuit setting remains enriched with its short and controversial history. The twist and turns from the last two years promise an exciting race.

As a fan, expect a race with crashes, safety cars, and drivers chasing in close proximity with some topsy-turvy racing. There’s a good chance that the difference between the tracks can distribute much-needed hope amongst the rest of the field.

Take a look at the top three racers favourites to win the Saudi Arabian GP 2023.

3. Sergio Perez

Christian Horner remains adamant that Sergio Perez must still improve in order to bring out his A-game if he hopes to challenge his fellow teammate. The Dutchman is undoubtedly the highest benchmark on the grid, but Checo, on equal machinery, has to do better.

In the last race, Perez had to play catch-up to Leclerc after a poor start. Eventually, it paid off as Red Bull secured a one-two in the season opener, but those cheap errors have not gone unnoticed by the team principal, who expects a lot more from the Mexican.

If there is a perfect place to do it, it would have to be without the aid of the Saudi asphalt. Jeddah has a lot less degradation in comparison to Bahrain. It doesn’t help an experienced driver like Perez, whose tire management skills are second to none, but that’s where the challenge is- if Checo needs to show his value to Red Bull, he must start thinking and working to win more races.

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2. Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc finished a disappointing 19th when his engine shut down on lap 41 in the opening race. Since then, the prancing horses have remained focused on tweaks that give them an edge in their immediate destination.

Last year, the Red Bulls performed wonderfully at top speeds while the Ferrari had an advantage under initial acceleration. This year, the two have swapped places. The data from Sakhir reveals that the red machinery has more pace than their competitors on a straight line. Red Bull drives with more horsepower out of the slower corners, but Ferrari has the potential to drag itself in front.

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur is still hopeful about challenging Red Bull throughout this season as the second-best. Though it was a rough race, the team would be inclined to put their best in overcoming the odds as they try to make amends with a 25-point deficit.

At Jeddah, the Scuderia must show that they still mean business. The circuit is challenging, where even the World Champion can falter. Leclerc must remain patiently vigilant for any unforeseen opportunities to prance ahead and make up for the losses endured in Bahrain.

1. Max Verstappen

The reigning Driver’s World Champion is driving like there’s no tomorrow. Verstappen’s fearlessness shows that he is in his prime. The competitiveness within him would be steadfast in doing some set-up tweaks before the free-practice sessions start.

Max knows that Jeddah will be technically and topographically different, where complete dominance might be hard to achieve. The car remains strong in high-speed corners, but still, it has to compete on the straights with the Ferraris.

It looks like a close race on paper, but the Dutchman might make it his playground once more with another one of his awe-inspiring drives. The strategies would also be a determining factor for every race. The Red Bull team always remains confident with their decisions and pit-stop strategies- which is bound to give their drivers some extra confidence.

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