Hamilton on pole as Verstappen crashes

This was a dramatic qualifying session between the championship contenders as Lewis Hamilton scored a vital pole position while Max Verstappen was on an epic, flying lap but made a mistake and crashed in the final corner.

Valtteri Bottas was second and this result gives Mercedes a front row lock-out ahead of their rival.

Red Bull sent Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez out several minutes later into Q3 and the former slotted in ahead of the Mercedes drivers with a one minute, 27.653 seconds on his first flying attempt in the final segment, after which he decried he needed “a tow” despite being 0.382 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who’s second attempt had looked ragged.

After a trip to the pits to alter his front wing settings, Hamilton put in a third and final flier that put him back to first place on a one minute, 27.511 seconds, albeit without the fastest time in the first sector.

Bottas followed his teammate in completing a third run, having taken his second attempt later than Hamilton’s, with Verstappen therefore the last of the three to complete a final lap – his second flier of Q3.

Verstappen appeared to be right on the limit all the way around the lap, nearly clipping the wall as he exited Turn 2 and rocketing to purple sectors in the opening tour thirds of the lap.

That put him 0.244 seconds in front of Hamilton’s time at that stage, but as he braked for the left-hand hairpin at the final corner his braking went wrong.

He locked up and when he picked up the throttle early in an attempt to recover the time he slid way and crashed into the wall on the outside, stopping near the inside wall on the approach to the pitlane.

This ended his qualifying challenge and it was a disappointment as without this mistake, this would have been the lap of the season as Verstappen was pushing way over the limit. Despite this, the championship leader is still third on the grid.

Charles Leclerc took fourth after his heavy crash in FP2, finishing ahead of Perez and Pierre Gasly.

Lando Norris finished seventh with Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon and Antonio Giovinazzi rounding out the top ten.

All the top ten runners bar Norris will start Sunday’s race on the medium compound after getting through the middle segment on that rubber.

Hamilton topped Q2, where Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen were the highest place fallers – the latter also clipping Bottas as he went around the Mercedes driver out of the final corner as they returned to the pits in an incident the stewards decided did not need investigating.

Fernando Alonso’s late personal best lap could not save the Alpine driver from elimination in P14 ahead of George Russell and Carlos Sainz.

Sainz had a wild opening two segments to qualifying, appearing to get impeded by Gasly at Turn 3 in Q1 – an incident that is being investigated now the session has ended – and then half-spinning at the exit of the fast Turn 10 90-degree right late in the first sector mid-way through Q2.

Sainz said he “saved” the incident, but his right-side rear wing endplate brushed the wall as he shot sideways and was sitting at an odd angle for the rest of the session, where the Ferrari driver had a hard time controlling his Ferrari and ended up P15.

In Q1, which was topped by Perez, Nicholas Latifi and Sebastian Vettel set personal bests right at the end but were eliminated in P16 and P17, with Lance Stroll abandoning his final flier as he was not set to improve.

Stroll therefore took P18 ahead of Mick Schumacher, who did complete a personal best right at the end of the segment but could climb no higher than P19, with Nikita Mazepin finishing last.

So a thrilling qualifying session and the speed around this Jeddah street circuit was insane. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in scoring an important pole position as the championship is reaching its climax. As for Max Verstappen, his final Q3 lap was looking special but pushed too hard and P3 is the end result. Can he fight back in the race? Bring on Sunday.

Qualifying results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.511
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:27.622
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:27.653
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:28.054
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:28.123
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:28.125
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:28.180
8 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:28.442
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:28.647
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:28.754
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:28.668
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:28.885
13 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:28.920
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:29.054
15 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:53.652
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:29.177
17 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:29.198
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:29.368
19 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:29.464
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:30.473

3 thoughts to “Hamilton on pole as Verstappen crashes”

  1. Qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after his title rival Max Verstappen looked set to beat him only to crash at the final corner…

    There was very little to choose between the two title protagonists throughout qualifying with Verstappen appearing to have the slight edge as Hamilton complained of a lack of grip.

    Both were leaving everything out there, Hamilton brilliantly catching a huge tankslapper on his first timed lap and then pumping in the quickest time on his next run.

    But Verstappen was absolutely flying and put in a time that was four tenths quicker than anyone else, under the lights at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit that straddles the Red Sea.

    Hamilton asked for a whole turn of front wing when he pitted, as he searched to find a solution to his understeer, and then promptly went quickest by 0.142s on his second soft run.

    Verstappen was still out there, though. It looked all lost when he got on the throttle too early at Turn 2 and ran wide, but he caught it impressively and was up by a tenth of a second at the first sector on his final run. He then put in a sensational second sector to put him a quarter of a second ahead of Hamilton.

    But he locked up at the final corner, and as he got on the throttle, slid into the wall, causing so much damage it forced him to stop.

    As a result, Hamilton took pole, with team mate Valtteri Bottas second for a Mercedes front row lock out, with Verstappen set to start third providing the damage he suffered will not require changes that trigger a grid penalty.

    Charles Leclerc was a brilliant fourth for Ferrari, ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez, with Pierre Gasly continuing his fine qualifying form with sixth.

    Lando Norris outperformed his McLaren to take seventh with Yuki Tsunoda making it two AlphaTauris in the top-eight, as Esteban Ocon and Antonio Giovinazzi completed the top 10.

    Verstappen set the early pace, with Hamilton running wide at Turn 1 on his first flying lap before cooling the tyres and going again and he promptly topped the timesheets by two tenths of a second.

    The track was evolving quickly, while drivers were finding they could do multiple laps on the same set of tyres, and as a result – the times tumbled relentlessly. Bottas had a go sitting pretty at the top, but he later limped back to the pits reporting a engine misfire.

    With two minutes to go, both Aston Martins of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll found themselves deep in the drop zone and needing to find at least seven tenths of a second to have any hope of escaping.

    But there was frustration for Stroll – and many others – as the sheer number of cars out on track late on meant they were going very slowly in the final sequence of corners to get some space – which in turn forced others to back out of their lap when they reached the car park.

    Neither Aston Martin could do enough to get out of the drop zone, meaning they were booted out of qualifying along with Nicholas Latifi and the Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

    Knocked out: Latifi, Vettel, Stroll, Schumacher, Mazepin

    Hamilton and Verstappen have gone toe to toe all season long, so it was fitting that this pattern continued into the penultimate race of the season, and in the final segment of qualifying.

    Hamilton set the early benchmark, which Verstappen comfortably topped. Hamilton hit back to sneak ahead, but Verstappen was all set to usurp him, only to get it wrong at the final corner, with his Red Bull hitting the wall.

    It meant Hamilton took consecutive pole positions for the first time in 2021, with Mercedes locking out the front row for the fourth time this season as Bottas lined up second ahead of Verstappen.

    Leclerc’s P4 was his best Q3 performance since Turkey, with Perez making it back into the final part of qualifying – after missing out last time in Qatar – with fifth.

    Gasly was sixth, with Tsunoda continuing his upward trajectory, securing his fifth Q3 appearance in six races.

    Ocon found himself P9 for the second consecutive race, with Giovinazzi making it to Q3 for the fourth time this year in what is his penultimate race weekend in Formula 1.

  2. Championship leader Max Verstappen doesn’t know what happened in “terrible” Q3 crash. Motorsport.com provides the news story.

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen says he doesn’t know what happened in his “terrible” final corner qualifying crash which cost him pole for Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

    In the Q3 shootout at the Jeddah Corniche street circuit, Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas had just demoted Verstappen to third when the Dutchman embarked on a final flying lap.

    Verstappen duly set the fastest time in the first two sectors, appearing set to claim what would have been a crucial pole in his drivers’ championship battle with Hamilton following two wins in a row for the Mercedes driver.

    But after locking up his left-front tyre on entry to the final a left-hand hairpin, his RB16B snapped loose and tapped the outside wall with the right-rear and right-front wheels, which damaged Verstappen’s suspension and shattered his pole ambitions.

    Speaking immediately after the incident, which left him third on the grid, Verstappen said he had no idea what happened but acknowledged his mistake was “terrible” given it handed his title rival Hamilton pole for Sunday’s grand prix.

    “Yeah, it’s of course terrible,” he said. “But that was generally a good qualifying.

    “It was a bit hard of course to switch on the tyres here on the street circuit, but I knew the pace was there and it showed in the last segment.

    “I don’t really understand what happened, but I locked up and I still tried to of course keep the car on the track, try to finish the lap but I clipped the rear and had to stop.”

    Verstappen who leads the drivers’ championship by eight points over Hamilton, would have dealt a massive blow by snatching pole away from his rival on what had been branded a Mercedes track.

    Instead, he faces the prospect of chasing Hamilton down the fast and narrow streets of Jeddah, with the Briton’s teammate Bottas as a buffer in second.

    “P3 is a bit disappointing of course today, knowing what lap I was on,” he added.

    “Nevertheless, it shows that the car is quick and let’s see what we can do in the race.”

    Verstappen said it’s too early to tell if his Red Bull gearbox sustained any damage in the right-rear impact, saying: “I don’t know. I immediately stopped, so let’s see.”

  3. Red Bull says it won’t hesitate to change Max Verstappen’s gearbox if it has any concerns about damage from his qualifying crash at Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

    Verstappen had looked on course to grab pole position at the new Jeddah circuit with a super-fast final lap in Q3 that appeared to put him clear of Lewis Hamilton.

    But he made a slight mistake under braking for the final hairpin, when he locked up and ran in slightly too deep, before clouting the wall on the way out.

    The nature of the impact with the concrete barrier – with his right rear hitting it side on – is the type of incident that can result in critical gearbox damage.

    Red Bull will not know just yet whether or not Verstappen’s gearbox has escaped unscathed, but the team is clear that if there is the slightest risk of it being compromised then it will elect to replace it – which would mean a five-place grid drop.

    Speaking about Red Bull’s thoughts on the matter, Red Bull’s Helmut Marko told Servus TV: “We have to take it apart and look at it.

    “We saw it with [Charles] Leclerc in Monte Carlo. He had had a similar impact.

    “They decided not to change and then bang, on the warm-up lap, the consequences became clear.

    “We are so fast that we don’t take any risks. If the gearbox has damage or glimpses of that, then we will change it. It’s difficult to overtake here, but still.”

    While Red Bull was frustrated that Verstappen’s error cost it a shot of pole position and has left him third on the grid, Marko said he could not complain about his driver’s attacking style.

    “He was four tenths ahead at that point, which is an eternity here,” he said.

    “We saw that when he braked, the left front wheel locked. As a result, he no longer had grip and then slid out. That’s what happened.

    “In retrospect you could have said: ‘Okay, Max, you’re already so far ahead, take it easy’, but that’s not Max, that’s not us. When someone is on a lap like that… and it was nuances.

    “It was a matter of hundredths with the braking, and that it had such a stupid effect.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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