until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Perez on Saudi Arabian GP pole, Verstappen starts 15th

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

A driveshaft failure for reigning Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen left him 15th on the grid for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez on pole instead.

Verstappen had topped every practice session of the Jeddah weekend and was almost half a second clear of the chasing pack in the first qualifying segment – but suddenly slowed dramatically in Q2 before he could set a time.

He limped back to the pits but climbed out of the car with six minutes left on the clock, the issue clearly impossible to rectify in time.

The Dutchman’s exit left an open goal for Perez, and though Perez didn’t go quickest by much in Q2, he then found a good chunk of time on his very first run of Q3 to go half a second clear.

He failed to improve upon the 1m28.265s on his second attempt, abandoning his effort early, but still held on to pole.

The nearest challenge to Perez came from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, lapping two tenths slower, but the Monegasque will have to start Sunday’s race from 12th on the grid due to a 10-place grid penalty for an engine component change.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso will therefore be on the front row with Perez instead, having jumped ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell late on.

Carlos Sainz will line up fourth in the other Ferrari. The Spaniard trailed Leclerc all throughout qualifying and ended up half a second off his team-mate, but did at least narrowly fight off Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll for a spot on the second row.

Fresh off Pierre Gasly suggesting Alpine had the pace to “annoy” Mercedes in Bahrain, team-mate Esteban Ocon outpaced Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in Jeddah Q3 for what will be sixth place on the grid.

Hamilton, McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri and Gasly completed the Q3 order.

Nico Hulkenberg overcame a nerve-racking laptime deletion in Q2 to post a better lap anyway with his final attempt, but it was 0.04s short of the final Q3 transfer spot, occupied by Gasly.

Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu was likewise close to making Q3 but had to settle for outqualifying team-mate Valtteri Bottas by two tenths. He and Hulkenberg are the two final drivers to move up a place thanks to Leclerc’s penalty.

The other Haas of Kevin Magnussen slotted in between the two Alfas and will share row seven with Bottas, with Verstappen right behind them.

Both AlphaTauris were eliminated in Q1, albeit Yuki Tsunoda came close to a second-segment berth, denied by Bottas by just 0.010s.

Team-mate Nyck de Vries, who had to sit out the entirety of third practice due to an unscheduled engine change, had a big spin at the very start of his first Q1 push lap and ultimately only recovered to 18th – with Williams driver Alex Albon ending up between the two AlphaTauris.

Lando Norris was the headline Q1 dropout, tapping the final-corner inside wall with his left front – which forced him to pit immediately and left McLaren in a race against time to repair the car for a final run, a race it ultimately lost.

He was at least spared last place by Williams driver Logan Sargeant, who with his very first attempt had set a time that would’ve been easily good enough for Q2 – only to have it deleted because of a remarkable track limits infringement on the curved run to the start-finish line, as he dipped his left-side wheels over the painted area on the inside.

Neither of the following laps came off for him, Sargeant having to make a speedy late pitstop after a spin and then reporting that “something broke” on his final attempt.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m29.244s 1m28.635s 1m28.265s
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m29.376s 1m28s 1m28.42s
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m29.298s 1m28.757s 1m28.73s
4 George Russell Mercedes 1m29.592s 1m29.132s 1m28.857s
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m29.411s 1m28.957s 1m28.931s
6 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m29.335s 1m28.962s 1m28.945s
7 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m29.707s 1m29.255s 1m29.078s
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m29.689s 1m29.374s 1m29.223s
9 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1m29.706s 1m29.378s 1m29.243s
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1m29.89s 1m29.411s 1m29.357s
11 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1m29.547s 1m29.451s
12 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m29.654s 1m29.461s
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m29.744s 1m29.517s
14 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m29.929s 1m29.668s
15 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m28.761s 1m49.953s
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m29.939s
17 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m29.994s
18 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m30.244s
19 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m30.447s
20 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 2m08.51s
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