Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in Jeddah, Sunday, 19/03/2023
The second race of the 2023 Formula 1 season is upon us. This weekend, the world’s fast drivers will be on the road in Saudi Arabia. On the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, designed by the world-famous “track pope” Hermann Tilke.
After the first race in Bahrain, Max Verstappen is again the clear favourite in Saudi Arabia. Even the stomach bug cannot slow down the “flying Dutchman”. The illness is said to have been cured.
Qualifying takes place at 18:00 German time. In my Saudi Arabia GP tip, I offer a forecast with the right odds.
The cost cap in Formula 1 has not yet led to a closer battle at the top. The background: a budget cap should put a brake on the seemingly endless further development of the cars of the top teams.
But in 2023 there will again be one dominant team: Red Bull. The Austrian racing team celebrated a double victory at the season opener, with Max Verstappen driving lonely at the top.
The world champion of the last two years is again the clear favourite for the second round. At the betting provider Bet-at-Home, the 25-year-old is assigned odds of about 2.30 to win.
The experts in the scene agree that Red Bull did not even run at full power in the first race. Accordingly, the team only shows as much as it has to.
The competition can only take courage from the fact that only three races will be held by the end of April due to the cancellation of the Chinese GP. So all the racing teams have the opportunity to find more tenths, but so does Red Bull.
It is to be expected that the RB19 can win almost every race if it is technically stable. Therefore, the high 2.50 odds that without Max Verstappen’s points Sergio Perez will become world champion are surprising. In any case, a good long-term bet.
But now the race in Saudi Arabia is coming up. It’s a completely different track from the last one in Bahrain.
The track is much narrower and instead of asphalt run-off zones, there are walls, crash barriers and Tecpro barriers right next to the racing line.
The asphalt is also different. In Bahrain, the stars of the scene were still driving on rough, grainy surfaces that push the tyres to their limits.
The smoother surface in Jeddah is completely different. The team of the moment, Aston Martin, could suffer as a result. From one of the worst teams in 2022, the traditional British racing team has risen like the Phoenix from the ashes in 2023.
The quantum leap was made possible by a completely new car design, while most other teams produced an evolution from their base. In any case, in addition to its strong pace, the Aston Martin also handles the tyres best alongside Red Bull.
An indicator, apart from the retirement of Charles Leclerc, which allowed Fernando Alonso to reach the podium at the season opener. But on the Saudi Arabian track, which is not necessarily “tyre-killing”, the Spaniard is likely to have a harder time fighting for the podium against the Ferrari drivers.
A bet on a non-top 3 finish for Alonso should pay off. Unfortunately, the non-markets on the race will not be offered by Bet365 until after qualifying.
However, as I expect not to see Alonso on the podium at the GP finish, it will most likely be Carlos Sainz Jr or Charles Leclerc who will, however, have to start from further back due to a ten-place penalty.
In Bahrain, the Monegasque was clearly faster than his team-mate. Therefore, even despite the demotion, a Leclerc podium is possible.
The last races at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit:
This rate definitely has value. A thorn in the flesh, however, is the Scuderia’s series of bankruptcies, misfortunes and mishaps, even across the season. Leclerc already failed to finish the World Championship opener due to a technical defect.
If I were convinced of a flawless Saudi Arabian GP for the Scuderia, I could bet on both Ferrari drivers finishing the race in the top 6, at odds of 1.66.
But first up is Saturday’s qualifying session. Red Bull are favourites in this session too, even though in recent years the race has been the energy drink team’s core discipline.
Tip on the race: Verstappen’s retirement in the second of the three qualifying sections was a fist-pumping surprise, in front of the new Red Bull boss Oliver Mintzlaff of all people.
Nevertheless, pole position was secured by Sergio Perez, a driver from the Austrian racing team. However, despite the large distance to Verstappen in 15th place, the betting companies do not really expect a victory for the Mexican (2.20).
Despite the technical defect in qualifying, the experts think a win for Verstappen is possible, with odds of 2.30 in the de facto same range as those for Perez. For this to happen, however, Verstappen will have to make up positions quickly.
That should be possible. As early as 2022, about 50 overtaking manoeuvres were made on the narrow circuit.
Due to his superiority, the double world champion should have few problems successfully attacking his opponents. The question remains whether he will be able to beat his team-mate in the end.
But Perez was already able to take many tenths off him per lap in the race in Bahrain. Therefore, in my Saudi Arabia GP tip, I opt for a Victory for Verstappen.