Just a few days after Scuderia Ferrari’s one-two finish in the opening round of the season in Bahrain, the Formula 1 World Championship is back in action with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix taking place less than three months on from the first ever running of this event.
Becoming the first Mexican to start an F1 race from the front, Sergio Perez claimed pole position in a dramatic Saudi Arabian GP qualifying after beating the quick Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz and his team mate Max Verstappen. The session also saw seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton eliminated early in 16th and Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi heavily crash out, with the German airlifted to hospital after a big shunt.
Red BullSergio Perez, 1st, 1:28.200
“Today was very special to me, I achieved the best lap of my life. I feel like I could do another thousand laps and there is no chance I can get the same lap, with the amount of perfection and risk. This is probably the most difficult track for qualifying all season, you know if you’re on pole here then you nailed the lap. You have to be very precise, you must take all the risks and the risk to reward is extremely high but the positions you have to take around this place to get the perfect lap are so hard.
"We came to Jeddah from a very difficult weekend in Bahrain and the Team have been pushing so hard out here and back in Milton Keynes, so I am extremely happy for them all. If anything, we were focusing more on the race pace so we felt Ferrari had the upper hand on us in qualifying. We will see if we have the pace to beat them in the race tomorrow. I need a good start and then I will try to control the race from there, it is going to be difficult because the Ferraris are quick and Max will be in the mix too. We have a long race ahead of us but I am confident we can come out on top again.”Max Verstappen, 4th, 1:28.461
“Checo did a great job today, he put the car on pole and I’m really happy for him! From my side, qualifying didn’t go the way I had hoped, in Q1 and Q2 everything felt normal but in Q3 the grip was terrible, I couldn’t extract what I needed to from the tyres and I was just sliding everywhere. In the faster corners I couldn’t push as hard as I would have liked and when you don’t feel comfortable on a street circuit you cannot attack the corners. Of course I’m not happy with fourth and we’ll analyse what happened but we have a competitive car and we have a lot to fight for tomorrow as a Team. I am looking forward to it, hopefully we can have a good race.”
FerrariCharles Leclerc, 2nd, 1:28.225
"It is disappointing to miss pole position today because I know that I put in a great lap. The risk Checo (Perez) took in the last sector paid off and his lap was exceptional. Congratulations to him for a job well done.
"On our side, there is plenty to learn from this qualifying. We were quicker on used tyres than we were on new ones and we have to understand why that was, so that we can put them in a better window next time. We were quick in our race simulation this morning and I feel confident for tomorrow. A race in warm conditions, taking place at night, on a very fast and narrow street circuit – it should be an exciting one."Carlos Sainz, 3rd, 1:28.402
"It was a good quali overall, putting good laps together every time we went out. Interestingly enough, I’ve been fast and more comfortable on a used set of softs than on the new set, so maybe I should have also done my second push on Q3 on used tyres. We’ll look into that for sure. In any case, the feeling with the car has been better so far this weekend and we’ll keep digging into the data to extract the maximum out of the car.
"Now we have to focus on tomorrow. Of course, the target will be to bring the pace of today’s quali into the race. We have saved several sets to give us different strategic options in case the race gets tricky as it did last year, so we’ll try to make everything work. Let’s race."
AlpineEsteban Ocon, 5th, 1:29.068
“First of all, the most important thing is that Mick is OK. That was a big shunt, and I am glad to see that everything seems to be fine with him. On our side, the car felt good and it’s good to see that we are quick around this track. It’s a very fast circuit, very technical and you do have to take some risks. I almost put it in the wall in Q3 but managed to just save it. It’s only the second race with this new car and to qualify in fifth and seventh is great and we should be very happy about today. We’ve built up well all weekend and I am happy how the car has improved during all the practice sessions. We’re in the mix to fight for a solid result tomorrow.”Fernando Alonso, 7th, 1:29.147
“It felt good to be in Q3 in Bahrain and now we arrive at a completely different circuit in qualifying trim, and we have both cars in Q3, so it’s a good sign for the team. The car has definitely felt competitive all weekend. With these 2022 cars we keep learning every single time we leave the garage and I think there is still more potential for us to develop. The tyre degradation is still a little bit unknown for tomorrow and now we don’t have to use the tyres we qualified on in Q2, so it gives us more flexibility on strategy. Let’s see what we can do in the race and hopefully we can take a lot of points from it.”
MercedesLewis Hamilton, 16th, 1:30.343
"I hope Mick is OK, that corner is 170mph and it’s terrifying to see what’s happened - that’s the biggest crash we’ve seen at this track. For me, I struggled with the balance of the car today, the rear end was snapping out and this isn’t where we want to be. We went the wrong way with the set up tonight and the car just wasn’t underneath me for this session. It’s strange because the car was feeling good in FP3 but in qualifying, it was difficult to drive all of a sudden and felt nervous. Everyone is working as hard as they can and trying to stay positive. I’ll try my best tomorrow and see what we can do."George Russell, 6th, 1:29.104
"We are one team, and as a team it was not a good day. We don’t have a handle on the car at the moment, it’s been inconsistent and we’re fighting to get it into this very small window. On our side of the garage, we managed to get it just inside that window - I don’t really know why or how - and unfortunately on Lewis’s side they didn’t manage to. When that happens on a circuit like this on a knife-edge, you just don’t have the confidence to push it to the limit. As a team, we’re not here to fight for P5 / P6, we want more and we were nine tenths behind Checo today, so we’ve got work to do.
"We know what our issue is and everyone’s working day and night trying to solve it. We know there’s so much lap time on the table, we just can’t tap into it. We will get there, I’ve no doubt. But we’ve got to be patient. We can be grateful that we’ve got such a serious issue, but we are still the third fastest team and that offers so much optimism. If we are still the third fastest and we have so many issues, when we solve them, we should be in a really good spot."
Valtteri Bottas, 8th, 1:29.183
“I am pleased to be in Q3, especially with our performance: we were very consistent, made good progress in each session and got a good spot on the grid for the race. The main thing today, though, is that Mick is ok after the heavy shunt. We hope to see him back in a race car as soon as possible. Coming into the weekend, we weren’t sure whether the track layout would suit us, so to have a solid qualifying as a team is positive.
"I was perhaps hoping to be a couple of places higher, but everyone was so close: we stuck to our plan, which was to only use one set of tyres for Q3, and by the end there was nothing left. Still, we delivered some good laps and I feel we are definitely in the fight that will be outside the top two teams. We can take the challenge to everyone around us tomorrow and I am looking forward to what will be an interesting race. We need a good start – we have been working a lot on them here and they feel better already – we need to keep position on lap one and then take any opportunity that may come from there on.”Zhou Guanyu, 13th, 1:29.819
“Before I look at my performance, I am relieved to see both Nicholas and Mick being fine after their crashes: this is the most important thing. I am very happy with my performance this evening, especially as my expectations coming here were quite conservative: this is a relatively new track for me, it’s so quick and it was the first time I drove an F1 car on a street circuit, so to go to Q2 and have a realistic shot at Q3 is a very positive feeling. I improved from session to session throughout the weekend and that’s the important thing: the red flag in Q2 compromised our plans and, in the end, I was left with one set of tyres, but I am happy with 13th.
"This is a challenging track, you need to push to the limit and you’re on a very thin edge between a great lap and a mistake: to have a clean qualifying session here as a rookie is really good, and to be closer to my team-mate and the top guys is even better. As for tomorrow, let’s see: the race could be chaotic, if last year’s is anything to go by. I’ll need to keep out of trouble and see how much progress I can make, but I think points are realistic.”
Could it be the secret's in the coffee? ☕️ 🤔 pic.twitter.com/zeVwkwHJ6m— Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake (@alfaromeof1) March 26, 2022
AlphaTauriPierre Gasly, 9th, 1:29.254
“I’m really happy to make it through to Q3 again today. It wasn’t that easy, as we suffered some damage to the floor during Q1, we managed to tape this during the session and get through to the top 10, but we’ll need to go away to analyse the data and see how much this impacted our performance.
"It was a really tight Quali today, with only a few tenths separating P5-P10, so I’m pleased with where we are. We’ll fight for everything we can tomorrow but it’s going to be a long race and considering the tyre degradation we’ve already seen in the practice session I think there will be a lot of different strategies tomorrow; we’ll be working hard tonight to decide what will work best for us.”Yuki Tsunoda, 20th, No time set
“It’s been a disappointing day, with the issue in Qualifying meaning we couldn’t set a time. I didn’t feel anything in the car, but the team told me there was a problem and I had to come in. It’s such a shame I wasn’t able to run, as I was feeling quite confident in the car this weekend and our aim was to get through to Q3. It won’t be as easy to overtake here as it was in Bahrain, with most corners being high-speed, but I’ll try my best to make my way forward.”
HaasKevin Magnussen, 10th, 1:29.588
“I’ve heard Mick is uninjured which is good and incredible when you see the crash that he had, but the safety is so good with these cars with the fact that you can walk away from a crash like that, it’s impressive. I think he was having a great qualifying session up until that point and he was up for a good result, so he’ll just need to come back and get on the horse and bounce back. We have to be happy with Q3, but the car was better than P10, I didn’t get the most out of it.
"Honestly my neck just completely broke in Q3 – suddenly it snapped, and I couldn’t hold it. I wasn’t driving well, I think maybe there was a P5 in the car, there’s only half a second up to P5 and my best lap in Q3 was on used tyres – and not a great lap as I said. The team had a P5 in it, but I didn’t.”
McLarenDaniel Ricciardo, 12th, 1:29.773
“We can be more positive with this result as a team. A week ago we weren’t in this competitive position, fighting for Q3. Both cars were about a tenth off. I think it’s been a smoother weekend for us, so hopefully tomorrow we can execute a good strategy and try to get into the top 10. It’s good to hear that Mick is OK after a big impact. We’re wishing him a quick recovery and look forward to seeing him back.”Lando Norris, 11th, 1:29.651
“Today was much better. There are more positives to take since Bahrain and, realistically, we should have been into Q3. There were few areas where we could have been quicker, which cost us getting into Q3. There was a lot of traffic and people doing warm-up laps, which made it difficult to put a clean lap together, but I also made a mistake. We had a better day today, and I think we can aim for some points tomorrow. Finally, it was good to see that Mick was okay, we’re wishing him well and a speedy recovery.”
The @McLarenF1 stars @LandoNorris and @danielricciardo deliver some incredible #FirstImpressions ahead of the @f1 #SaudiArabianGP this weekend 🤣— LADbible (@ladbible) March 26, 2022
Which one is your favourite? 👀 pic.twitter.com/evya8Ym1S1
“I think qualifying could have gone a little bit better – I made mistakes in Turns 1 and 13, which probably cost me three-tenths and it did not help my push to make Q2. This circuit is so intense and fast, with a lot happening to the car in each corner, and that has been the hardest thing for me to get used to after a spell away from racing. Purely in a physical sense, this could be one of the hardest races of my career, but my goal tomorrow is to keep it clean, make progress, complete the race and provide as much info as possible for the team as we keep developing the car.”
Lance Stroll, 15th, 1:31.009
“The most important thing after qualifying is that it appears that Mick is generally OK after his big accident. It was not easy to sit in the car waiting for things to resume, so it was good to have an update on his condition before we went out again. I think P15 was probably the maximum we could achieve today. The balance of the car is decent, but we just lack that extra bit of grip to jump up the order. Last year it was a really eventful race here, so you would expect similar opportunities tomorrow. We will be ready to react quickly and can hopefully make progress.”
“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. It was the first time I became rear limited in that corner all weekend, it caught me by surprise quite a bit.
“I feel really sorry for the team because it was a costly mistake. It’s difficult to say at the moment about tomorrow; the car is feeling a bit better than it did in Bahrain, but we still have a lot of work to do. It will be a long race so we just have to be there.”Alex Albon, 17th, 1:30.492
“It was a tricky day. I felt we were capable of getting to Q2, but getting the tyres to work, especially at night-time when the temperature drops, becomes a little more difficult. We don’t have a bad car, but the tyres are very sensitive and we just missed the operating window.
“We have a bit of work to do but otherwise, in the race we should have good pace, so we can be positive on that side. Overtaking is going to be tricky but hopefully we have a pace advantage.”