Perez takes stunning Jeddah pole as Hamilton only qualifies 16th

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Saudi Arabia, Jeddah Street Circuitsa

Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez took the pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in a qualifying session that was red-flagged for a long period due to a heavy crash for Haas driver Mick Schumacher.

The first qualifying session started with a red flag period as Williams driver Nicholas Latifi swiped the wall. The Canadian stated that “it just seemed like I lost the rear under braking into Turn 13, so we need to look at the data to understand exactly why as it was the first time I became rear limited in that corner all weekend. It caught me by surprise quite a bit.”

After the brief pause, the action continued in Jeddah with drivers eager to put in quick laps, knowing how difficult track conditions can be due to traffic and the tight confines of the Saudi Arabian track.

The session saw Lewis Hamilton make a shock exit in 16th. Although the Briton put in a series of hot lap in the closing minutes of the session, the seven time world champion was unable to secure a place in the middle part of qualifying.

The other drivers to end their evening after the first qualfiying section were Alexander Albon, Nico Hulkenberg, Nicholas Latifi and Yuki Tsunoda, who was confined to the garage all session with a suspected fuel-related problem.

The second session saw Haas driver Mick Schumacher suffer a scary high-speed crash mid-way through Q2, triggering a lengthy red flag period. Assessment at the Medical Centre revealed no injuries, but the Swiss-born German has been transferred to King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital, Jeddah, for precautionary checks.

After the session restarted following a lengthy period, all drivers were in a hurry to head out on to the track. In the end, Carlos Sainz registered the fastest lap with a a new weekend benchmark of 1m 28.686s, ahead of his team mate Leclerc and the Red Bull drivers.

McLaren has shown a lift in performance compared to its dismal showing in Sakhir, but it was still not enough for the Woking based team to get into the last qualifying segment. Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo will line up P11 and P12 on the grid for the second Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The other three drivers to fail to get through Q2 were Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu, Schumacher and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.

Ferrari drivers were extremely quick after the first laps in the last qualifying segment with Sainz leading the Scuderia one-two. In the meantime, Verstappen did not find the grip on his first set of soft tyres, taking only sixth with his first hot lap.

In the dying minutes of the session, Leclerc put in another magical lap to jump to the pointy end of the field only to lose out to Perez, who staged a late shock with a breathtaking final lap to clinch pole by just two-hundredths of a second. It was the first career pole for Perez, who has also become the first Mexican to secure the first starting position in Formula One.

Verstappen managed to improve with his second run, but it was only enough for P4. Esteban Ocon put his Alpine on the fifth position on the grid, ahead of Russell and team mate Fernando Alonso. The two-time world champion will share the fourth row on the grid with Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Haas returnee Kevin Magnussen will round out the top ten tomorrow.

111Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:29.7051:28.9241:28.20020
216Charles LeclercFerrari1:29.0391:28.7801:28.22522
355Carlos SainzFerrari1:28.8551:28.6861:28.40223
41Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:28.9281:28.9451:28.46122
531Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:30.0931:29.5841:29.06819
663George RussellMercedes1:29.6801:29.6181:29.10421
714Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:29.9781:29.2951:29.14720
877Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:29.6831:29.4041:29.18322
910Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt1:29.8911:29.4181:29.25422
1020Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:29.8311:29.5461:29.58824
114Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:29.9571:29.65116
123Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:30.0091:29.77317
1324Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:29.9781:29.81917
1447Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:30.1671:29.92013
1518Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:30.2561:31.00915
1644Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:30.34311
1723Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:30.4929
1827Nico HulkenbergAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:30.54310
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:31.8174
RT22Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt2