Verstapen sets the qualifying pace in Jeddah

Three-time Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen took pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, ahead of Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

The Red Bull driver produced a lap time of one minute, 27.472 seconds on his first run in Q3 but did not improve on his second attempt so that stood as the time to beat.

Leclerc had only been fourth but with a massive eight tenths down after the first runs, where he had tried an additional warm-up lap to cure a handling problem he was suddenly feeling with new softs.

On his second attempt with just a single warm-up effort, he cut Verstappen’s advantage to 0.319 seconds and beat Checo, who had been unable to go quicker than his first lap in the final segment.

Behind came Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and the McLaren duo – led by Oscar Piastri throughout Q3 – and the Mercedes drivers.

George Russell ended up ahead of Lewis Hamilton despite making a mistake in the first sector on his final Q3 lap and backing off, with Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll rounding out the top ten.

Q2 was interrupted after four minutes when Nico Hulkenberg stopped in the Turn 8 runoff just has he had begun a first flier in the middle segment where his teammate, Kevin Magnussen had provided a tow.

But Hulkenberg’s VF-24 was already sounding bad, with the Hulk pulling over early in sector one and bringing out the red flags as his Haas had to be recovered.

After a five-minute delay, Q2 built to is conclusion where Oliver Bearman missed the cut by a tiny margin of 0.036 seconds in Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, with the 18-year-old followed by Alex Albon, Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo.

In Q1, Valtteri Bottas was shuffled back to being eliminated in P16 being others improving late in the first segment, where Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly also fell for the second week in a row.

Bottas was left feeling angry at traffic issues late in Q1, with his engineer claiming he was 0.1 seconds up on his personal best in sector one on his last lap, after the Sauber driver was eliminated by 0.072 seconds behind Albon.

This time they ended up off the back row, where Logan Sargeant and Zhou Guanyu will start for Williams and Sauber – the former setting a personal best that was not good enough to progress well ahead of the chequered flag falling.

Zhou only left the pits with one minute, 39 seconds left in Q1 after his massive FP3 shunt, but he did not make it around to start a first flier and he was eliminated in P20 with no time set.

Bearman faces a post-session investigation for apparently failing to respect the race directors’ instruction on the maximum delta time in qualifying when not on a flying lap, in both Q1 and Q2.

So as expected, Max Verstappen qualified on pole position. That Red Bull RB20 is a fast car and it will be interesting if Charles Leclerc can challenge in the race as the Ferrari is on the front row once again.

As for Ollie Bearman, this is fine effort despite a lack of preparation. With Carlos Sainz unable to take part with a health issue, this is a great opportunity for the young driver to make a good impression in Formula 1. To qualify P11 and only one place behind Lewis Hamilton is a good achievement.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:27.472
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:27.791
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:27.807
4 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:27.846
5 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:28.089
6 Lando Norris McLaren 1:28.132
7 George Russell Mercedes 1:28.316
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28.460
9 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:28.547
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:28.572
11 Ollie Bearman Ferrari 1:28.642
12 Alexander Albon Williams 1:28.980
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:29.020
14 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:29.025
15 Nico Hulkenberg Haas No time
16 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 1:29.179
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:29.475
18 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:29.479
19 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:29.526
20 Zhou Guanyu Sauber No time

3 thoughts to “Verstapen sets the qualifying pace in Jeddah”

  1. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen made it two pole positions from two in 2024 with a commanding performance in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as rookie Oliver Bearman impressed on his debut as a stand-in for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

    Championship leader Verstappen has looked in complete control in Jeddah, the Dutchman looking at one with his RB20 as he popped in two laps that were good enough for pole in qualifying – his best – a 1m 27.472s – was 0.3s clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

    The second Ferrari of Bearman earned plenty of plaudits, the 18-year-old looking at home from his first lap in final practice and, while he missed out on Q3 by just 0.036s, 11th is nonetheless a very strong result considering he only got the call to drive a few hours before he hit the track.

    Sergio Perez, winner last year in Saudi Arabia, was third, the Mexican failing to improve on his second timed lap with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso cleverly sneaking a tow from Lewis Hamilton on his final run to leave him with a tenth of pole heading into the final sector before crossing the line fourth.

  2. Max Verstappen reckons his lap to secure pole position for Formula 1’s 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was reminiscent of his famous, failed 2021 qualifying effort when he crashed out.

    The reigning three-time F1 world champion said that his first and fastest run had put him in mind of 2021, when he wiped out at the final corner of the Jeddah street circuit by clipping the outside wall.

    “Around here, of course, it depends a lot on your confidence, how much you can go to the limit. Today I felt very comfortable with the car.

    “Throughout qualifying, it’s pretty crazy how fast you go around here. I think in my first lap in Q3, I was very happy with how I did the lap.

    “It felt almost a bit like the failed ’21 lap. But, of course, making the last corner!

    “It was very good. I had a lot of fun. The car was, behaving really well.”

  3. Ollie Bearman came within 0.036s of making Q3 in his first ever Formula 1 qualifying, after a whirlwind Friday that saw the 18-year-old get called up as a replacement for the appendicitis-stricken Carlos Sainz for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

    Sainz took part in Thursday’s practice sessions, but was forced to call a halt to his weekend after being diagnosed with appendicitis – the Spaniard successfully undergoing surgery on Friday.

    In his stead was flung 18-year-old British F2 hopeful Bearman, who was given just one unrepresentative session in Free Practice 3 to get up to speed with the Ferrari SF-24’s handling around the daunting Jeddah Corniche Circuit before qualifying began under the floodlights.

    “What a great opportunity of course, huge best wishes for Carlos and his recovery. But it’s a great moment and opportunity for me and I’m ready to maximise it. Bit disappointed with the qualifying, but overall I can’t be too disappointed.

    “It was so close, so close,” he added of the margin to Q3. “That’s why it hurts a bit more. I made a mistake on my first push [lap] so I had to do it on my second and the tyres aren’t really the best there, so my mistake and I’ll take that on the chin.”

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