Ferrari and Mercedes could not hold back the raging Red Bull as both teams struggled with their race pace early in the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Not to mention Aston Martin, which has been shaping up to be a strong title contender, serves as another roadblock for the two top teams.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc finished P6 and P7, respectively, at the Saudi Arabian GP on Sunday.
Leclerc’s frustration was apparent in their team radio. "Being behind like this is really ****. I don't know what to do!”
“It’s already two different tracks where our race pace is not great so we know we have work to do,” said Sainz in a post-race interview.
“Honestly, I don’t think there was much more anyway in the car today. We just need to work to find some pace,” said Leclerc, who qualified P2 but started P12 due to a grid penalty.
Under new team boss Frederic Vasseur, the Italian team has to be quick in delivering improvements to their cars as the Australian GP, the third race on the calendar, is about two weeks away.
“We simply didn't have the pace is something that is a bit confirmed after Bahrain, that we are just at the moment not very fast and we're gonna work super hard to develop this car to turn it around,” Sainz said in a video message post-race.
“It might take a few races but you can be sure that from now we will keep pushing flat out in Maranello and here to improve this car and go back to the results that we all want,” he added.
Both drivers fell behind Mercedes’ 7-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton who finished P5.
Before Sunday's race, Hamilton said he felt “miserable” not being connected with his car in post-qualifying.
"I feel like I struggled with the car in the high speed particularly," Hamilton said.
“I just don't feel connected to this car and I can't get it… It is miserable. It is tough, I am giving it absolutely everything,” he added.
The underwhelming performance of Hamilton’s Mercedes compared to reigning champion Max Verstappen’s Red Bull could not be mistaken when Verstappen zoomed past him on Lap 12 and he did not bother putting up much of a fight.
Hamilton later on declared that the Red Bull was the fastest car he has ever seen.
“When we were fast we weren’t that fast. That’s the fastest car, I think, I’ve seen, especially compared to the rest. I don’t know why or how but he came past me with serious speed,” he said.
“I didn’t even bother to block because there was a massive speed difference.”
Hamilton’s teammate, whom he said had better setup, finished ahead of him at P4.
Verstappen easily weaved his way through the narrow street circuit of Jeddah from P15 to P2, claiming the second 1-2 finish for the Red Bull team where Spaniard teammate Sergio Perez emerged winner.
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso reinstated his P3 finish.
Early in the 2023 Formula 1 season, last year’s third-best Mercedes is tied with surprise podium regular Aston Martin in the running for the constructors championship at 38 points. Ferrari, the 2022 first runner-up, is in fourth place with 26 points. Red Bull has a wide lead advantage with 87 points.
Verstappen is on the lead in the driver's title race with 44 points. Perez comes second with 43 and in third place is Alonso with 30 points.
Formula 1, F1, motorsport, F1 2023, Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Saudi Arabian GP