Perez takes pole for Red Bull as Verstappen hits gearbox trouble

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP Saudi Arabia, Jeddah Street Circuitsa

Sergio Perez did exactly what was expected after Verstappen retired from qualifying with a gearbox issue. Charles Leclerc did get close to pole in the end but his 10 place grid penalty will see Alonso start from the front row on the grid.

Qualifying was kicked off with AlphaTauri and Williams making use of the clean track early on. For Devries it was an opportunity to spin his AT04 on his first flying lap, meaning he would remain slowest for a long time during Q1.

Haas and Mercedes were next up to demote the early runners down the pecking order until the Red Bulls easily went fastest when they recorded their flying laps exactly halfway into the session.

Moments later Alonso started his first flying lap but the Spaniard was too eager on the throttle out of Turn 2, sending him into a spin. His Aston Martin was momentarily pointing the wrong way but with nobody close behind he made another half spin to get back underway. His next lap was good enough for third until Leclerc went 0.030s quicker to go third himself.

Sargeant also had a spin a bit later in Turn 23, followed by the deletion of another laptime for surpassing track limits at Turn 27. Norris meanwhile was sat in the pits as his crew checked out his car's front wing after clipping the wall.

After promising pace in the practice sessions, both Alpines were in difficulty and only managed to secure a place in Q2 with their very last attempts. Stroll also seemed somewhat in danger but then moved up into fourth moments after Alonso recorded another improvement to improve on Leclerc's time.

Out were therefore Tsunoda and Devries (who messed up the last corner on his final attempt), along with Albon, Norris (who didn't manage to return to the track following his car problems) and Sargeant (whose best recorded lap was 39s slower than Verstappen's).

From first to 19th, the gap was only 1.9s in Q1, half a second of which was the advantage that Verstappen had on Perez.

The second part of qualifying started with the Alfas taking to the track, immediately followed by the Aston Martins of Alonso and Stroll. Most others followed soon while Perez only left the pits 3 minutes into the session.

As Alonso set a 1:28.757, Verstappen had a moment of oversteer in a quick corner and abandoned his first flying lap. As he continued his lap to prepare for another flyer he encountered a problem midway through the lap. Verstappen made it back to the pits while his car stuttered in third gear. Once there he quickly stepped out of the car, resulting in 15th on tomorrow's starting grid, at best.

Meanwhile on track only 5 minutes remained. Piastri, Sainz, Bottas, Zhou and Hulkenberg had to improve to make it into Q3. After another bumpy ride over some kerbs Sainz still didn't manage to improve, leaving him just a single lap in the the final minute to try to get through.

Zhou was the first to jump out of the danger zone with an improvement to 8th. Piastri then secured a spot in Q3 and so did Sainz with 4th, dropping Zhou out again, along with his teammate, the two Haas drivers and Max Verstappen.

Meanwhile in front, even though it mattered very little, Sergio Perez found another improvement and ended Q2 on top, 0.122s faster than Alonso and 0.268s faster than Leclerc. Gasly in 10th was just 0.776s behind as Hulkenberg was eliminated by 0.040s.

Gasly was the first man out on track but soon Alonso improved on that with a 1:28.925, slightly slower than his best in Q2. With the margins so small this allowed Leclerc to go faster by 0.168s while Sergio Perez was still on his warmup lap.

Hamilton then slotted into third while Russell did better still and slotted in midway between Leclerc and Alonso. When Perez crossed the line he was nearly half a second quicker than Leclerc, raising some eyebrows and question marks across the grid about how they would ever be able to beat the single remaining Red Bull.

Stroll and Piastri were on a different run plan and only started their flying laps while most others had already returned to the pits. Stroll did well to go 5th fastest, a tenth down on Alonso while Piastri ended up 10th, less than a tenth down on Gasly in 9th but 4 tenths behind Sainz in 8th.

2 minutes from the end the track got busy yet again with Alonso again the first to complete his flying lap. The Spaniard improved two tenths and moved up to second before Leclerc bettered this yet again, ending up at just 0.155s of Perez as the latter did not improve on his second attempt.

As Leclerc takes a 10 place grid penalty, Alonso is set to start in second, followed by Russell, Sainz, Stroll, Ocon, Hamilton, Piastri and Gasly.


111Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:29.2441:28.6351:28.26518
216Charles LeclercFerrari1:29.3761:28.9031:28.42019
314Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:29.2981:28.7571:28.73018
463George RussellMercedes1:29.5921:29.1321:28.85721
555Carlos SainzFerrari1:29.4111:28.9571:28.93124
618Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:29.3351:28.9621:28.94520
731Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:29.7071:29.2551:29.07824
844Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:29.6891:29.3741:29.22321
981Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes1:29.7061:29.3781:29.24323
1010Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:29.8901:29.4111:29.35723
1127Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:29.5471:29.45118
1224Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:29.6541:29.46118
1320Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:29.7441:29.63417
1477Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:29.9291:29.66818
151Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:28.7611:49.9536
1622Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:29.93910
1723Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:29.9949
1821Nyck De VriesAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:30.24410
194Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:30.4474
NC2Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes2:08.5108