Red Bull clinch ANOTHER pole… but it’s NOT Max Verstappen! Sergio Perez will start Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on top after lightning qualifying session – but it’s another miserable run for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes down in 8th
- Qualifying for the Saudi Arabian GP was blown open when Verstappen pulled up
- The defending champion cut a dejected figure as his participation ended in Q2
- Pole was taken by his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who was 1.55sec quicker
This light-bulb lit Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was blown open in qualifying when Max Verstappen pulled up with driveshaft failure.
The defending double world champion – as certain a bet as existed for pole before the action began – cut a dejected figure as his participation ended in Q2. He qualified only 15th.
Pole was taken by his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who was 1.55sec quicker than second quickest Charles Leclerc of Ferrari.
The Mexican’s pole was the second of his career, his only other coming here a year ago.
Third quickest was Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, 0.465sec back.
Defending champion Max Verstappen cut a dejected figure as his participation ended in Q2
Pole was taken by his team-mate Sergio Perez, who was 1.55sec quicker than Charles Leclerc
The Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were fourth and eighth respectively – more doom and gloom for an increasingly careworn Lewis, who was 0.958sec adrift of Perez and a heart-puncturing three-tenths behind his team-mate.
Leclerc will take a 10-place engine penalty for taking on a new electronic element in his engine. So Alonso and Russell and the rest move up a slot.
As Verstappen limped home to the pits, doomed for the lower-mid grid on Sunday, his father Jos removed his headphones and turned away dejectedly.
Max was hardly wearing a brighter countenance as he removed his balaclava and climbed on to the FIA scales.
Verstappen’s problems set in with what he called a ‘big moment’ eight minutes from the end of Q2. He recovered. Then, his session-ending setback a few moments later.
Despite the obvious pain of having the expected grid advantage ripped from his grasp, Verstappen can console himself in the knowledge that he can conceivably still win over the 50 laps of this white-knuckle track along the Jeddah Corniche.
It promises to be a much spicier race than anyone could have predicted, as the Dutchman tries to hot-rod his way through the field.
As for Alonso, he chases his first win since he won on home asphalt, in Barcelona, in 2013.
The Spaniard promises his long-run pace is better than one lap, so he is well in the mix.
Lando Norris’s involvement came to a premature end when he nudged the corner of the 27th and final bend.
The Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were fourth and eighth respectively
Leclerc will take a 10-place engine penalty for taking on a new electronic element in his engine
Third quickest was Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, but the Spaniard will start on the front row
He returned to the McLaren garage but his men couldn’t put his car back together in time and he went out in Q1.
He was annoyed with himself – 16th a dismal place to start Sunday’s race.
There were a few early slips. Alonso spun, as did Williams’s Logan Sargeant, who qualified last after stopping with a damaged car – a ragged session for the American rookie.
London-born Thai Alex Albon was 17th best in the other team. As new boss James Vowles admits there is a long road ahead for the illustrious team.
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