His Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez won the race from pole position, but Verstappen cut through the field to claim P2 after starting in 15th, while Aston Martin’s Alonso completed the podium.

Verstappen said in the cool down room: “It wasn’t easy in the beginning. Just following the other cars through the sectors. You lose so much because of the tail impact.”

Alonso asked: “Did the Safety Car help you a lot?”

Verstappen: “Yes. I would say. I would have caught up, but it made it easier.”

Perez: “Did you get the fastest lap, in the end?”

Verstappen nods and said: “On the last lap, yeah.”

The champion added: “I asked what the fastest lap was, and I think it was a tenth faster.”

Alonso: “Do you know what you did?”

Verstappen: “31.9.”

The dominance of the Red Bulls – who finished two seconds clear of the rest – was an ominous sight in the second race of 2023.

Verstappen was vying to become only the second driver ever, after Alonso at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, to win from 15th but was denied by a composed drive from his teammate.

Alonso briefly overtook Perez at the start of the race, but the Mexican regained his position on the fourth lap.

Alonso later lost his podium due to a 10-second penalty, handing George Russell P3.