Verstappen to start Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from 15TH

Mad Max! World champion Verstappen is to start Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from 15TH after ‘very annoying mechanical failure’ at Turn 10… and the Red Bull star is calling for his fans to be ‘realistic’ with many still expecting him to win

  • Verstappen’s Red Bull suffered a driveshaft mechanical failure during Q2
  • The Red Bull had been consistently quick for the Dutchman in earlier practices
  • But Verstappen has not ruled out the possibility of a fightback on Sunday 

Max Verstappen’s hopes of a second consecutive grand prix victory to start the 2023 received a serious blow after the Dutchman crashed out of qualifying on Saturday. 

The current world champion was eliminated in Q2 after suffering engine failure, and will start 15th on the grid during tomorrow’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah. 

Red Bull confirmed that his car had suffered driveshaft mechanical failure, after Verstappen lost acceleration power. 

The Dutch driver was predictably frustrated by his early exit but urged caution before ruling out his chances. 

‘No, it is the first time I have heard about it,’ Verstappen admitted when asked if he had known the root cause of the problem. ‘Coming out of Turn 10 it happened which is very annoying.

Max Verstappen looked dejected after his unexpected Q2 exit ahead of Sunday’s grand prix

The Dutchman’s car lost acceleration and as a result, he will start from 15th in Jeddah 

‘I think so far we had a really good weekend, every session was going well, the car was working really well.

‘Now it will be a bit more tricky to get to the front but it will be all about scoring points.

‘Of course, I would have liked to have stared further up the road but there is nothing I can do now.

‘Let’s stay realistic – it is going to be tough but we have good pace so let’s move forward.’

The Red Bull driver will not doubt look to challenge the firepower he found during last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, which saw Verstappen charge through the pack from an 14th-placed starting position to win the race. 

Qualifying concluded with Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez claiming pole, ensuring that the day ended on a high note for the constructor. 

Team-mate Sergio Perez (left) took pole with former McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso P2

Lewis Hamilton’s desire to relaunch after a false start to 2023 in Bahrain was hampered by an seventh-place grid position in tomorrow’s race

Charles Leclerc, who was forced to retire from the opening race of the season in Bahrain due to his Ferrari’s engine failure, finished second-fastest, but due to a looming 10-place grid penalty, will start 12th tomorrow. 

Fernando Alonso, therefore, will join Perez on the front row and start from second. 

George Russell and his Mercedes will line up third on the grid, four places ahead of his star team-mate, Lewis Hamilton who qualified P8 but benefits from Leclerc’s penalty. 

The pair’s team principal Toto Wolff was open on Friday, saying that he wouldn’t stand in the seven-time world champion’s way should Mercedes not be able to get next season’s car up to championship-chasing standard.

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