Checo Perez takes his first pole position

Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez achieved his first Formula 1 pole position by beating both Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in Saudi Arabia, while last year’s P1 driver Lewis Hamilton was knocked out in Q1.

Checo went to the top with his final flying lap of Q3 on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit with the weekend’s best of one minute, 28.200 seconds to triumph over the strong Scuderias.

That meant the late improvement of Leclerc, as the free practice pacesetter finally had an answer to Sainz in qualifying, missed out on consecutive pole positions by just 0.025 seconds.

Sainz, who had headed the leader board after the first runs in the Q3 ten-minute battle, could not put together one final lap and so slipped to third position by two tenths compared to his teammate.

A messy Q3 showing for defending champion Max Verstappen resulted in only fourth position, with the Red Bull driver struggling initially in Q3 as he battled oversteer while applying the throttle out of Turn 2.

Esteban Ocon ran to fifth for Alpine, dropped eight tenths to the leaders but beating Mercedes driver George Russell and Fernando Alonso.

Russell executed an off-beat strategy by leaving his best effort for the mid-point of the session rather than engage in a last-ditch shootout over the line.

Mr Saturday clocked a time of one minute, 29.104 seconds to land sixth over Fernando Alonso and the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas. Pierre Gasly and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen completed the top ten runners.

Russell was the only Mercedes-powered contender to move into the top ten shootout after Daniel Ricciardo and his McLaren teammate Lando Norris failed to hook up an improved lap in the massively delayed Q2 fight.

A huge crash for Mick Schumacher forced the 15-minute session to be put on ice for nearly a hour while the Haas driver was taken to hospital after an initial check at the medical centre revealed no injuries.

This came after the Haas driver ran wide out of Turn 10 over the exit kerb and on the slippery surface, the VF-22 swapped ends and Schumacher ran nose first into the wall at high speed.

As per new crash structure designs, when the car was craned, the rear end split from the main chassis to cause a further clear up delay in addition to the track needing cement dust and a steam blast before FIA race director Niels Wittich was satisfied with his inspection.

With a little under five minutes to run, late improvements were few and far between.

But Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon – who was delayed by Ricciardo in an incident that remains under investigation – made it through in eighth and ninth.

That left Russell prey as Gasly improved to seventh, but Ricciardo could not whittle down his personal best to survive while Zhou Guanyu only climbed his Alfa Romeo to P13.

Norris was out in P11 ahead of Ricciardo, Zhou and Schumacher – ninth at the time of his crash – over Lance Stroll.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was the first driver to miss out on progressing into the second part of qualifying after his final flying lap was 0.087 seconds slower than the cut off set by Stroll.

The seven-time champion was only P16 in Q1 after initially losing the rear end of his Mercedes W13 challenger with a snap of oversteer at Turn 2 on his first flying soft-tyre run.

After beginning the Saturday evening session on the medium compound alongside Russell only, Hamilton was forced into a final push lap with a minute to spare in order to progress.

However, the lap started off the pace when the Brit was adrift of his personal best throughout sector two on his way to a one minute, 30.343 seconds.

Despite a better sprint to the finish to initially move P15, Stroll was next over the line to bump Hamilton out in Q1 for the first time since he crashed in Brazil qualifying in 2017.

He was only faster on merit than the Williams of Alex Albon and Aston Martin’s substitute driver Nico Hulkenberg, the pair dashing to P17 and P18 respectively.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Latifi crashed out to bring the red flags into play after seven of the 18 minutes when the rear of his FW44 snapped out of control at Turn 13.

The Williams driver appeared to immediately lose the back axle when he turned in, glancing the TecPro barrier before landing in the outside wall.

Yuki Tsunoda was unable to set a lap either side of the eight-minute delay owing to a fuel issue for the AlphaTauri, which arrived in Saudi with a fresh power unit.

So congratulations to Checo Perez in achieving his first pole position in Formula 1. To beat both Ferraris and his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen is impressive. Looking forward to the race.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:28.200
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:28.225
3 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:28.402
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:28.461
5 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:29.068
6 George Russell Mercedes 1:29.104
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:29.147
8 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:29.183
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:29.254
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:29.588
11 Lando Norris McLaren 1:29.651
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:29.773
13 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:29.819
14 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:29.920
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:31.009
16 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.343
17 Alex Albon Williams 1:30.492
18 Nico Hulkenberg Aston Martin 1:30.543
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:31.817
20 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri –

3 thoughts to “Checo Perez takes his first pole position”

  1. Qualifying review as reported by

    Sergio Perez claimed a first career pole with a scintillating last-gasp effort in a dramatic and heavily disrupted qualifying session in Saudi Arabia.

    The Mexican snatched top spot from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the final seconds, with the pair split by just two-hundredths of a second at the conclusion of a wild session on the streets of Jeddah.

    The session had paused for an hour during Q2 after a violent high-speed crash for Haas’ Mick Schumacher, who was extricated to the medical centre – where no injuries where revealed – and later to hosptial for precautionary checks.

    Nicholas Latifi had also earlier triggered red flags as he swiped the wall in Q1 – a session that saw Lewis Hamilton make a shock exit in 16th.

    Hamilton’s team mate George Russell only just squeezed into Q3, but rallied to eventually claim sixth, fractions behind Alpine’s Esteban Ocon. Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull had to settle for fourth, two-tenths down on his team mate.

    Ferrari had appeared early favourites by going fastest in both Q1 and Q2, and then setting the early pace in Q3 – first via Sainz, and then Leclerc. But Perez saved his best for his final run to claim a dream first pole at his 215th attempt – the longest wait in F1 history.

    Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas claimed a share of the fourth row, just ahead of Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen in the lead AlphaTauri and Haas respectively.

    McLaren suffered a double exit in Q2, as late gains for Gasly and Magnussen lifted both drivers out of the drop zone – and bumped Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo to 11th and 12th respectively.

    Guanyu Zhou was 13th, with Schumacher’s opening effort in Q2 enough for 14th, ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll. Schumacher’s participation in the race will however depend on both full medical clearance and a full car rebuild.

    It was Stroll who had effectively eliminated Hamilton – the Briton had momentarily lifted himself to 15th, only for Stroll to immediately reply and seal Hamilton’s fate.

    Joining him as those out of Q1 were the Williams pair of Alex Albon and Latifi, in 17th and 19th respectively. They sandwiched Aston Martin super-sub Nico Hulkenberg – while Yuki Tsunoda was effectively forced to watch from the sidelines as a suspected fuel problem left him unable to register a time.

    Q1 – Sainz fastest as Hamilton exits early

    Hamilton had his first Q1 exit since Brazil 2017, managing P16 – 12 positions and 0.6s down on team mate Russell – while Latifi lost the rear of his Williams at Turn 13 and hit the barriers but emerged unhurt.

    After the red flag, Sainz settled matters with a 1m 28.855s – the first lap of the weekend in the 1m28s bracket.

    Verstappen got close, coming within a tenth to split the two Ferraris, with Russell following them home in fourth, narrowly ahead of Bottas and Perez in the second Red Bull.

    While Hamilton was briefly lifted into 15th, Aston Martin’s Stroll – on fresh softs as opposed to Hamilton’s three-lap-old tyres – quickly deposed him by less than 0.1s.

    Hamilton therefore exited ahead of Albon and Aston Martin sub Hulkenberg. Latifi, watching from the sidelines, was 19th, ahead of only Tsunoda, whose AlphaTauri was confined to the garage all session with a suspected fuel-related problem.

    Exit: Tsunoda, Latifi, Hulkenberg, Albon, Hamilton

    Q2 – Huge crash for Schumacher, Sainz shades Leclerc

    Mick Schumacher suffered a scary high-speed crash mid-way through Q2, triggering a length red flag period to extricate the Haas driver. He was taken to hospital for further precautionary checks, with Haas saying he is ‘in physically good condition’.

    The extrication and subsequent repairs to the barrier took around an hour, such was the size of the impact.

    When the session did eventually restart, it did so with Leclerc narrowly ahead of Perez, Verstappen and Sainz – the quartet separated by just 0.15s.

    That changed in the final seconds as Sainz registered a new weekend benchmark of 1m 28.686s – a tenth faster than his team mate.

    Alonso was fifth for Alpine, but on the other side of the garage Ocon languished in 15th after his quick lap was derailed by traffic in the form of McLaren’s Ricciardo – an incident which was promptly investigated by the stewards.

    Ocon was able to rescue himself from the drop zone when the session resumed, eventually winding up ninth – just ahead of Russell, who squeezed through to give Mercedes one representative in Q3.

    Magnussen and Gasly also found late gains – to the cost chiefly of Norris and Ricciardo, stuck in 11th and 12th as McLaren suffered a double exit in Q2. Zhou was 13th for Alfa Romeo – just four tenths down on team mate Bottas, although in the hyper-competitive field, that was the difference of seven spots and progression.

    Stroll was 15th, just behind Schumacher – whose participation tomorrow will hinge on both full medical clearance and a full car rebuild.

    Exit: Norris, Ricciardo, Zhou, Schumacher, Stroll

    Q3 – Last-gasp Perez makes history

    Perez staged a late shock with a breathtaking final lap to clinch pole by just two-hundredths of a second – at his his 215th attempt. The Red Bull driver therefore became the first Mexican to put it on pole position in F1 history.

    Ferrari had been the early pace-setters – first through Sainz and then Leclerc, who appeared set for a second-straight pole right up until Perez’s dramatic surge.

    Verstappen was only two-tenths down on his team mate – but that left him fourth, ahead of Ocon and Russell, who produced a great run when the track was at its quietest to snatch sixth – and some crumb of comfort – for Mercedes. He was the only Mercedes-powered driver to reach Q3 on Saturday in Jeddah.

    Alonso shaded Bottas by just four-hundredths in the fight for seventh, while behind, Gasly edged Magnussen for ninth – the Haas driver making it a second consecutive Q3 appearance.

  2. Uninjured Schumacher transferred to hospital after horrific Jeddah crash. has the news story.

    Mick Schumacher appears to have escaped injury in the high-speed accident during Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix qualifying that stopped the session for almost one hour.

    The German had been challenging for a slot in Q3 during the second session of qualifying when he touched the kerb at Turn 12, near the end of the first sector.

    The bounce across the kerb triggered him to lose control of the rear of the car and he was quickly spun around, smashing heavily in to the concrete wall on the outside.

    Schumacher then rebounded into the wall on the opposite side of the track before coming to a halt further down the circuit.

    The qualifying session was immediately red-flagged and medical crews quickly attended to the driver, removing him from the car and taking him to the medical centre in an ambulance.

    With Schumacher conscious as he got out of the car, an initial medical inspection pointed towards him having escaped any serious harm in the crash.

    However, a decision was taken to transfer him to a nearby hospital by helicopter to allow further precautionary checks to take place.

    A statement issued by the FIA regarding Schumacher said: “Assessment at the Medical Centre revealed no injuries, and he has been transferred to King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital, Jeddah, for precautionary checks.”

    Schumacher’s Haas team confirmed that the German was in good physical condition and had spoken to his mother Corinna.

    Schumacher’s Haas car was very badly damaged in the accident, with all four corners taking a hit in the incident.

    As the car was lifted away by marshals, the gearbox came away from the VF-21 as oil was dropped on the circuit.

    With marshals needing to clear the track for Q2 to resume, the session was stopped for 57 minutes before the FIA was able to resume it.

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez hails “unbelievable lap” for first pole position in 215 Formula 1 races. has the full story.

    Sergio Perez says the lap that ended his 215 grand prix wait for his first Formula 1 pole position was “unbelievable”, after beating the Ferraris in Saudi Arabian Grand Prix qualifying.

    In a close-fought final Q3 shootout at the Jeddah Corniche street circuit, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz led the way after the first round of attempts before being demoted by teammate Charles Leclerc, setting up a Ferrari front row for Sunday’s race.

    But Perez surprised the Ferrari duo by dipping 0.025s below Leclerc’s time with his final effort.

    With Perez’ teammate Max Verstappen settling for fourth, the 31-year-old Mexican sealed his first F1 pole in 215 attempts.

    Perez says his pole lap was “unbelievable” and doesn’t think he could have gone any quicker on the high-speed street track.

    “It took me a couple of races but what a lap, man, it was unbelievable,” Perez grinned. “I can do 1000 laps and I don’t think I can beat that lap. It was unbelievable.”

    Perez said he didn’t expect to be able to beat the Ferraris in qualifying, making his first pole even more memorable.

    “We were not really expecting too much with the Ferraris in qualifying,” he added. “We were focusing mainly on the race hopefully we’ll get them tomorrow.”

    Leclerc said he didn’t expect Perez to beat his lap in the final seconds of Q3 and commended the Mexican’s “incredible” effort.

    “The lap felt good honestly, I am very happy with the lap,” said Leclerc, who won last week’s 2022 season opener in Bahrain from pole.

    “Qualifying was all about just keeping it on track and not doing any mistakes, which would have been very costly. And then in Q3 in the second lap, I just went for it and I more or less put everything together.

    “There’s a bit here and there but I definitely did not expect Checo to come with that lap time, so congratulations to him. I’m pretty sure he did an incredible job today.

    “It’s another day tomorrow and hopefully we’ll have a good start.”

    Qualifying was delayed after a nasty accident in Q2 for Haas driver Mick Schumacher, who smashed into the concrete walls at Turn 12 after losing control over the kerbs.

    Schumacher was taken to the medical centre by ambulance, where initial checks didn’t reveal any injuries. The German was still airlifted to a nearby hospital for precautionary examinations.

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