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It will be Red Bull on pole again – but with a different driver this time. Sergio Perez laid down a 1:28.265 to lead Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso. Max Verstappen was out in Q2 with a mechanical issue.
F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Qualifying: Who will be on pole?
For the second year in a row, the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix qualifying had some surprises in store for F1. Sergio Perez continued Red Bull’s domination, scoring a comfortable pole by well over 0.4s. Max Verstappen dropped out in Q2 and will line up 15th after a driveshaft failure.
Leclerc was the second fastest, but the Ferrari driver will drop 10 positions after picking up his third ECU unit. With this, Alonso climbs up to the first row, matching Aston Martin’s best qualifying result in F1.
Rookie Oscar Piastri impressed, making it to Q3 for the first time. The Australian will line up in eighth place.
F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Q1: Verstappen Dominates, Norris Runs Into Trouble
Williams’ Alexander Albon was the first driver to set a flying lap. Not too long after, Verstappen once again showed his otherworldly pace, setting another sub-1:29 lap. The reigning two-time champion’s laptime was exactly .5s faster than Perez’s.
Further down the order, McLaren’s terrible luck continued, as Lando Norris’ clipped the inside wall at turn 27 and damaged his car’s steering. The Brit did not return, dropping out in Q1.
Leclerc and Alonso went third and fourth respective, but over a tenth down on Perez and over six-tenths down on Verstappen. The Spaniard further improved his time to go third, but still half-a-second down on the top time. Stroll joined his Aston Martin teammate in fourth place.
Joining Norris in the drop zone were AlphaTauri pairing Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries, and the two Williams of Albon and Logan Sargeant. The American rookie finished last after failing to set a flying lap, courtesy of three troubled runs. Oscar Piastri escaped with a late flyer, saving McLaren from another disastrous Saturday session.
F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Q2: Perez Tops, Verstappen Drops Out With a Mechanical Issue
The two Aston Martins were the first to hit the track in Q2, with Alonso joining Verstappen as the only other driver to dip below the 1:29’s.
And in the biggest upset of the weekend, Verstappen suddenly slowed down with just over nine minutes to go, with a suspected driveshaft issue. The Dutchman returned to the garage and retired from the session, leaving him down in 15th. This marked an end to a streak of 30 consecutive Q3 appearances for the defending champion.
Perez saved Red Bull’s session with a sub-1:29 lap, moving up to second place. Leclerc also set an impressive 1:28.903 to go third, behind the Aston and the sole Red Bull.
Carlos Sainz Jr. needed a last-grasp attempt to advance, settling into fourth place. Perez went to the top with a 1:28.635 in his final attempt.
In a frantic final minute, Piastri and Pierre Gasly squeezed through into Q3 at the expense of Nico Hulkenberg and Zhou Guanyu. Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas joined their respective teammates in the drop zone, along with Verstappen. Piastri made it through for his first Q3 appearance in only his second F1 race weekend.
F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Q3:
Perez showed his true pace, setting the fastest time of the weekend with an early 1:28.265. Leclerc set the second-fastest time in his first attempt, but well down on the Mexican. George Russell went a surprising third, followed by Alonso.
All drivers went back for a second attempt. Alonso improved on his previous best to go second. Leclerc pipped off the Spaniard, but will drop down to 12th because of Ferrari’s ECU penalty.
Perez did not need to set a second flying lap, as his banker was enough to secure back-to-back poles in Jeddah. Alonso will start alongside on the first row, followed by Russell and Sainz. Stroll and Ocon will shared row 3, with Hamilton and Piastri lining up on the fourth row. Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg will complete the top 10 after Leclerc’s penalty.