Verstappen comfortably bests Leclerc for Saudi Arabia GP pole

Max Verstappen cruised to pole position at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix ahead of Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen held a hefty 0.335s advantage over the field after his first lap, setting a time of 1m27.472s. He couldn’t improve with his second lap, which was 0.2s slower than his first, but with the rest of the field barely finding time, it made no difference to the outcome.

Either lap would have been enough for the Red Bull driver, who picked up his first pole position in Jeddah.

“It was a very good day,” Verstappen said. “We improved the car a little bit overnight, and that gave me a bit more confidence to attack the high-speed corners.”


The Dutchman was equally confident about Saturday’s grand prix.

“There have been a lot of crazy races around here. A lot can happen. I’m confident with the race pace that we have, that tomorrow the car will work really well too,” he said.

Leclerc found half a second on his second qualifying lap — his first was compromised by an experiment with tire preparation — but the gain was only enough to put the Ferrari driver 0.319s off pole on his route to the front row.

“In the second lap I put everything together, and that was what was in the car today,” he said. “I’m really happy with the lap.

“It’s a shame we are a bit further away than we hoped, but tomorrow is the race, and I hope we have a good surprise and will be able to challenge the Red Bull.”

Sergio Perez has been set to start on the front row alongside his teammate after his first run, but the Mexican failed to find time with his second lap, leaving him vulnerable to being pipped by Leclerc and demoted to third.

“Max has done a tremendous lap,” he said. “I think that was not possible for me today.

“I think we are still in the fight for tomorrow. Tomorrow is a long race and anything can happen.”

Fernando Alonso qualified fourth at the tail of a tight group of three cars, with just 0.055s between him, Perez and Leclerc ahead.

Oscar Piastri qualified ahead of McLaren teammate Lando Norris by 0.043s, with the pair set to start ahead of Mercedes duo George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

Yuki Tsunoda made RB’s first Q3 appearance in ninth ahead of Lance Stroll in the second Aston Martin completing the top 10.

Surprise Ferrari rookie Oliver Bearman qualified 11th, the Briton falling short of a top-10 spot by just 0.036s.

Alex Albon will start 12th ahead of Keving Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo, who lapped 0.558s slower than Q1-bound RB teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

Nico Hulkenberg qualified 15th without a Q2 time after his Haas car ground to a halt with a power unit issue at Turn 8 on his first flying lap, requiring a brief red flag to recover his stricken machine.

Valtteri Bottas will start 16th after missing out on progression by just 0.072s.

Alpine teammates Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were closely matched but never in contention for Q2. Both were almost 0.4s off 15th, and they were more than 1.3s off top spot in Q1.

Logan Sargeant struggled to recover from losing FP3 to a broken left-front corner after clipping the barrier, leaving him 19th.

Zhou Guanyu will line up last without having set a time. The Sauber driver crashed heavily in FP3, and it too the team the entirety of the 2.5-hour break between sessions and almost all of Q1 to complete repairs.

Zhou got out on track with less than two minutes remaining, but the work was in vain, with the Chinese driver taking unable to get around the track to start his lap before the checkered flag fell.

Story originally appeared on Racer