The first race of 2023 not won by a Red Bull was won by Carlos Sainz with Ferrari, showing extraordinary strategic intelligence! Round vote for the Spaniard and Norris and Hamilton were also good, with him on the podium. He expected more from Leclerc and Verstappen, but Russell and Alonso failed.
CARLOS SAINZ – RATING 10 He deserved this victory since Friday. After a perfect start, he kept the group compact in the first laps, then he pulled ahead a bit and this helped him with the first Safety Car, which however forced him to bring forward his stop. So he had to keep the Hards on for 40-odd laps, and when the VSC came out at the end he had no choice but to stay on the track, while the two Mercedes drivers tried with an additional stop. But it is here that Carlitos painted his masterpiece: without his brilliant intuition of staying in front while keeping his former teammate Norris in his wake to offer him a fundamental DRS to avoid being overtaken by Russell, he would not have been able to win. The second victory with the red comes at the end of an impeccable and brilliant performance.
LANDO NORRIS – RATING 8.5 His race was a bit of a rubber band: from fourth position at the start he slipped behind Hamilton, before regaining his position because his more famous compatriot had gone off the track while passing him (he could also have held your ground…). Then after the first Safety Car he soon got rid of the two Red Bulls he found himself in front of and moved up to second position. In the end, he didn’t have enough to attack Sainz, but with the lead offered by his friend and former colleague, he was able to keep Russell behind until leading him to a lethal mistake. One point for him in the fight to see who will take over Hamilton’s legacy in a few years.
LEWIS HAMILTON – RATING 8 If only he hadn’t returned even just one of those two positions at the start, perhaps today we would be talking about yet another feat from a timeless champion. The problem, however, is that if you end up behind your teammate on the grid, it is unlikely that you will have an advantage in the race, so he tried on the first lap, but went wide and had to give back the position (for the team, not for the race direction). From then on he did everything well, penalized in two pit stops out of two compared to his teammate but always able to catch him on the track with fast laps (his fast lap, in fact). Yet another podium in an endless career which also earned him third place in the standings ahead of Alonso.
CHARLES LECLERC – RATING 6 He doesn’t deserve a failure, even if today he ended up far from his teammate. At the start, he did well to outwit Russell and take first place. At the pit stop under the Safety Car, he chose to slow down a little to give his team time to change Sainz’s tires, but for a few moments, he remained stuck on his pitch losing position on Norris and Russell. Then on the track, a blockage also causes him to lose the one on Lewis. Having said that, in the end, he destroyed his tires and lapped so slowly that he was even caught by Verstappen. Fourth place, kindly offered to him by Russell, is still a good result, which is also useful for Ferrari in the fight for second place in the constructors’ championship.
GEORGE RUSSELL – RATING 4 At the start he is mocked by Leclerc and finishes third. He returns to second position only thanks to the Safety Car stop which penalizes the Monegasque, after which he starts chasing Sainz but seems to be unable to do anything, with the Spaniard lapping at a low pace to save his tires and running away from him on the straights. With the VSC the Mercedes wall sees an opportunity and he is good at coming back and getting rid of Leclerc early, but then, in the heat of attacking Norris, the wall plant when the podium was already his. He despairs and is right to do so, today he lost the battle of nerves, he still has a lot of km to do, even if from a speed point of view no one is arguing about it.
MAX VERSTAPPEN – RATING 6 How can you give enough to Verstappen, the dominator of the season, for fifth place? Easy, you shouldn’t think that today, as on all other occasions this year, he was driving the best car. He does what he can, with obligatory strategies up to the second SC, the virtual one. There he chooses to return to the pits and then recovers until he comes close to Leclerc’s fourth place with overtaking, showing his usual superior driving. We can’t even give him more than enough, given that today’s performance was born from a terrible qualification.
FERNANDO ALONSO – RATING 4 Today he was expected to deliver a great performance, but Aston Martin is no longer what it used to be. He fights generously as always, but he is not the usual Nando. First of all, he gets a 5-second penalty for re-entering the pit lane too quickly, and then he goes straight into a corner, after which Perez also loses position to Ocon in trying to pass. In the end, he also has a problem at the pit stop. Today he was even expected on the podium (even if it was an optimistic forecast) and even finished 15th and last among the riders who reached the finish line.
ESTEBAN OCON – RATING 8 He was having a beautiful race, topped off with a couple of movie-themed overtaking on Perez and Alonso. Then, however, he suffered an engine problem which forced him to retire.
PIERRE GASLY – RATING 7.5 Comeback from 12th position, without making any mistakes, with overtaking and good choices, in the end, the sixth place is excellent and consoles Alpine after Ocon’s withdrawal.
OSCAR PIASTRI – RATING 7 A solid race, away from the spotlight. He starts from 17th place, recovers three positions at the start, then one with the Safety car, and then enjoys overtaking until finishing in 7th place.
SERGIO PEREZ – RATING 5 In the end he finishes eighth, very far from Verstappen (34 seconds behind!). He is also subject to a possible penalty for overtaking Albon.
LIAM LAWSON – RATING 7.5 What a great guy this is. Three races in Formula 1 and three excellent performances. Today from the 10th position he not only maintains the points zone but also does better: ninth!
KEVIN MAGNUSSEN – RATING 7 He couldn’t maintain 6th place on the grid, but managed to grab a small point after slipping to 15th position thanks to the last stop and a good comeback.
ALEXANDER ALBON – RATING 6 In the end he loses the points zone due to the episode in which he was the protagonist with Perez. He had done a good race, always chasing 10th place.
GUANYU ZHOU – RATING 6.5 The feeling is that with a little more luck he could have fought for the points. Not bad for someone who started from the pitlane.
NICO HULKENBERG – RATING 5.5 He danced around the threshold of the points zone throughout the race, but then towards the end the choice not to make a pit stop penalized him and sent him to 13th position.
LOGAN SARGEANT – RATING 4 When he hits the wall on lap 20, he ruins his race even if he animates that of the others. She made a decent comeback from 18th to 14th, even if favored by retirements and by the VSC.
VALTTERI BOTTAS – RATING 5 Not a great day. He appeared in dignified positions only by skipping the Safety Car stop. Then he falls to the back of the group and also comes retirement.
YUKI TSUNODA – SV RATING He didn’t start very well from the 15th position, then his wheel got pinched and he got a puncture, immediately forced to retire.
LANCE STROLL – SV VOTE Car destroyed on Saturday, does not start the race. If only the grade on the report card referred to the entire weekend and not to the race it would deserve a solid 4.