UPDATE: Max Verstappen won the first race of the year, claiming the checkered flag at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sergio Pérez finished second and Fernando Alonso finished third.
Formula 1 opened the 2023 season with a doubleheader of races in the Middle East. On Sunday, March 5, the circuit is running the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit. In two weeks, on March 19, we’ll see the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Jeddah. The circuit is 6.174 km (3.836 miles) in length.
This marks the third year of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural race in 2021 after claiming the pole position in Saturday qualifying. He finished 21.825 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen in the race. Last year, Verstappen won the race after starting in the fourth position. He edged out Charles Leclerc, beating him by 0.549 seconds.
This race has dealt with considerable controversy. There are the accusations of sportswashing by Saudi Arabia. More immediate is the the danger given conflicts in the region. Two days prior to the 2022 race, an oil depot ten miles from the Jeddah race track was attacked by drones and missiles as part of the ongoing conflict between Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Saudi Arabia. A practice session was delayed, but the practice took place and the rest of race weekend happened after a meeting of drivers, team principals, and the F1 CEO.