Max Verstappen’s day was over in Q2 due to a driveshaft trouble, as Sergio Perez beat Charles Leclerc to pole in Jeddah.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso will start from the front row in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday, after title leader Max Verstappen was forced to withdraw from qualifying in the second round due to a drive shaft failure.
Under the lights of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Perez recorded a time of 1:29.244s in Q3. The Red Bull driver’s pace was 0.115 seconds faster than Charles Leclerc’s, who finished second but will start the race in 12th owing to a penalty.
As the session moved into the last five minutes of Q2, Red Bull’s Verstappen made an unexpected exit from qualifying.” I have a problem,” the Dutchman said over the radio as he was forced to run back to the pits due to an engine issue.
Owing to Verstappen’s absence in the third quarter, three different teams could have finished first, second, and third. Despite Aston Martin and Ferrari being close behind, no one else could keep up with Perez’s pace in the Red Bull.
Carlos Sainz, who had appeared to be struggling the entire session, was followed by George Russell, who made an unexpected move to set the fourth-fastest time in Q1.
McLaren’s Oscar Piastri also made an unexpected comeback in Q1 following a difficult season debut in Bahrain. Lando Norris was unable to replicate the feat on his side of the garage after striking the wall in Q1.
The session was tense the entire time, with the midfield battles in Q1 and Q2 proving to be close the entire time. It originally appeared as though Nico Hulkenberg would advance into Q1 after outqualifying teammate Kevin Magnussen, who qualified P13, but Gasly was the last driver to make it into Q3, eliminating Hulkenberg.
Zhou Guanyu, who outqualified teammate Valtteri Bottas, was positioned between the two Haas drivers. The Q2 dropzone also claimed Bottas, who finished in 14th place, ahead of Verstappen’s damaged Red Bull.
The AlphaTauri drivers had a bad day as the duo withdrew from the session in Q1. Nyck de Vries admitted that he made a mistake at the penultimate corner that cost him lap time and was beaten by Yuki Tsunoda.
Alexander Alon, who had just finished in the points at the Bahrain Grand Prix, finished in 17th place for Williams, with Logan Sargeant likely being the driver who was the most dissatisfied with his performance.
The American driver posted a lap time that would have comfortably qualified him for the second round of qualifying, but he was flagged for track limits. In the lead-up to the finish line, Sargeant violated the race director’s instructions by squeezing a wheel inside the painted line. On his subsequent attempt, he made a costly error that required him to pull over and express regret for it.
Norris also hit a wall during one of his attempts, costing him a damaged car. He tried to get back to the pits but was unsuccessful, therefore Sargeant and the Brit will sit in the back row in the Sunday evening race.
The 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will start at 20:00 local time on Sunday.
2023 F1 SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING RESULTS
|1||Sergio Perez||MEX||Oracle Bull Racing||1m29.244s||1m28.635s||1m28.265s|
|2||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1m29.376s||1m28.903s||1m28.420s|
|3||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||1m29.298s||1m28.757s||1m28.730s|
|4||George Russell||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||1m29.592s||1m29.132s||1m28.857s|
|5||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||1m29.411s||1m28.957s||1m28.931s|
|6||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||1m29.335s||1m28.962s||1m28.945s|
|7||Esteban Ocon||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m29.707s||1m29.255s||1m29.078s|
|8||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||1m29.689s||1m29.374s||1m29.223s|
|9||Oscar Piastri||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1m29.706s||1m29.378s||1m29.243s|
|10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m29.890s||1m29.411s||1m29.357s|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||MoneyGram Haas F1 Team||1m29.547s||1m29.451s|
|12||Zhou Guanyu||CHN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake||1m29.654s||1m29.461s|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||MoneyGram Haas F1 Team||1m29.744s||1m29.517s|
|14||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake||1m29.929s||1m29.668s|
|15||Max Verstappen||NED||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1m28.761s||1m49.953s|
|16||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m29.939s|
|17||Alex Albon||THA||Williams Racing||1m29.994s|
|18||Nyck de Vries||NED||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m30.244s|
|19||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1m30.447s|
|20||Logan Sargeant||USA||Williams Racing||2m08.510s|