Mar 18, 2023 at 6:41 PMUpdate: 5 hours ago
Max Verstappen was hit by engine problems during qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Saturday. Teammate Sergio Pérez took pole position, while Verstappen started fifteenth.
The reigning world champion was the clear favorite for pole position, but there were already some doubts about the reliability of both the Honda engine and the Red Bull gearbox.
Verstappen received a new gearbox on Saturday morning, while the necessary engine parts were changed at teammate Sergio Pérez. The problem was now in the drive shaft on the right side.
In the absence of Verstappen, Pérez got up in the final part of qualifying. The Mexican lapped in a 1.28.265 and took pole just like last year. Charles Leclerc drove the second fastest time in the Ferrari, two tenths behind Pérez. However, the Monegask has to redeem a ten-place grid penalty and thus starts the race in twelfth.
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Alonso starts from the front row
Fernando Alonso thus moves up to the front row with his Aston Martin. The Spaniard was half a second slower than Pérez and was third fastest, ahead of George Russell in the Mercedes. Carlos Sainz was disappointing with the second Ferrari and was fifth fastest. The Spaniard starts the race in fourth due to the grid penalty of his teammate Leclerc.
Lance Stroll was sixth fastest in qualifying, followed by Esteban Ocon in the fastest Alpine. Lewis Hamilton experienced a poor qualifying with the eighth fastest time, which means seventh place on the grid on Sunday. Oscar Piastri made it to Q3 for the first time in the McLaren, with the ninth fastest time. The top ten was completed by Pierre Gasly in the second Alpine.
Top ten qualifying Jeddah
1. Sergio Perez (Red Bull): 1.28,2652. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari): +0.1553. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin): +0.4654. George Russell (Mercedes): +0.5925. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari): +0.6666. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin): +0.6807. Esteban Ocon (Alpine): +0.8138. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): +0.9589. Oscar Piastri (McLaren): +0.97810. Pierre Gasly (Alpine): +1,092
Eighteenth time for De Vries after problems in final training
Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri also had problems. Nyck De Vries lost a lot of time due to an engine change, so he had to watch the entire third free practice.
That was detrimental to the Dutchman, who is taking action for the first time on the difficult circuit in Jeddah. Qualifying also started far from ideal, with a spin in his first attempt. De Vries recovered from that, but in the end he couldn’t put together a lap that was good enough to go through to the next part of qualifying. He will start eighteenth on Sunday.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix starts at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
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