Formula 1 change made that should have been made weeks ago

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images) /

Sergio Perez is finally listed as the second favorite to win the 2023 Formula 1 world championship following his dominant display in Saudi Arabia.

The 2023 Formula 1 season became Sergio Perez’s fourth consecutive winning season on Sunday at Jeddah Corniche Circuit, as he earned the fifth victory of his career and his first in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Perez took the pole position for the 50-lap race around the 27-turn, 3.837-mile (6.175-kilometer) temporary street circuit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and he led 47 laps en route to standing atop the podium, alongside teammate, reigning Jeddah winner, and two-time reigning world champion Max Verstappen as well as Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

As a result of his victory, Perez is now listed as the second favorite to win the 2023 Formula 1 world championship, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. For some reason, he had only previously been listed as the sixth.

Verstappen, who won the season opener in Bahrain, is still the favorite, and his odds have shortened from -325 to -410 (bet $410 to win $100).

Perez is listed second at +1100 (bet $100 to win $1,100) after having been listed at +2100. Alonso is listed third at +1300.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc are tied for fourth at +2900. Mercedes’ George Russell and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. are tied for sixth at +5000.

What is surprising is that it took two races for Perez to jump ahead of Alonso, Hamilton, Leclerc, and Russell to become the second favorite, considering the two Red Bull drivers were also in a league of their own in Bahrain.

The RB19 is clearly the car to beat, indicating that we could be in for a battle between teammates to determine the 2023 Formula 1 world champion.

Of course, Perez didn’t need to deal with Verstappen until the closing stages of Sunday’s race, with Verstappen having been eliminated in Q2 of qualifying as a result of a drive shaft issue. He started in 15th place before carving his way through the field to finish runner-up, where he still finished well ahead of Alonso.

But that does not take away from the fact that Perez was the class of the field all race, and it shouldn’t surprise anybody that he was able to capitalize on Verstappen’s misfortune and dominate from the front.

Despite losing the lead to Alonso at the start, he played it cool, didn’t panic, and reeled him back in a few laps later before passing him and pulling away. He also survived a safety car restart, with Verstappen in fourth place, and built up a nice gap afterward.

The only reason Perez is not leading the standings is because of the fact that Verstappen ran the race’s fastest lap on the final lap. Perez had run the fastest lap prior. Had neither driver scored the extra point for recording the fastest lap, they would be tied atop the standings, with both having won a race ahead of the other in second place.

As for why Perez was only listed as the sixth favorite after opening up the year with a runner-up finish behind Verstappen, we have no answers. Fortunately, that has been changed, and rightfully so after a dominant effort.

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The 2023 Formula 1 season’s third race is the Australian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 2. ESPN is set to broadcast the race live from Albert Park Circuit beginning at 1:00 a.m. ET, so be sure to begin a free trial of FuboTV and don’t miss it!