Verstappen's superior form spilled into the sand when the car terminated the contract - team mate Perez grabbed pole position: "They're on another planet right now"

Verstappen’s superior form spilled into the sand when the car terminated the contract – team mate Perez grabbed pole position: “They’re on another planet right now”

Just about everything spoke for a Max Verstappen grand slam in Saudi Arabia. Then the car canceled the contract and the Dutchman instead has to fight hard to get on the podium in the race.

Fastest in the first training session. Fastest in the second training session. Fastest in the third training session. And by far the fastest in Q1 in qualifying.

Max Verstappen looked to be flying ahead in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Red Bull were strong already in the premiere – in the second part of the season, everything pointed towards total dominance.

But when Verstappen was about to start the second qualifying session, the first warning signs came. First he was losing control in a fast corner, then he couldn’t press the gas.

It quickly became apparent that it was the drive axle that put an end to the reigning world champion’s pursuit of pole position.

Sergio Perez took advantage of the situation and grabbed pole position. And at the same time reminded the rest of the field how superior the Red Bull car is right now.

“Still hoping for double victory”

Admittedly, the gap to runner-up Charles Leclerc was only 155 thousandths of a second, but Perez didn’t even make a final quick attempt, as the rest of the drivers improved their times considerably.

– The first lap was quite good. It’s a shame that Max had problems, but we still hope to have two cars at the top of the podium tomorrow, says Perez in the TV interview afterwards.

– This has been a difficult weekend for us, but my last fast lap was pretty good. Red Bull is on a completely different planet right now, says Leclerc in turn.

Fernando Alonso continued to show his front foot and secured grid two, as Leclerc will be relegated due to an engine change. George Russell finished fourth in qualifying, but disrupted fifth place Carlos Sainz’s last fast attempt and may yet be poked down by the jury.

Valtteri Bottas had a hard time during the practice sessions, but at least managed to squeeze through to Q2 by a minimal margin. The distance down to Yuki Tsunoda was only a hundredth of a second in the first qualifying session.

With a place in the first ten grids at stake, Bottas failed to find more speed either and finished 14th in qualifying as only Verstappen landed behind him in the summary.

Results, F1 Qualifying Saudi Arabia:

1. Sergio Perez, Red Bull
2. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
3. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
4. George Russell, Mercedes
5. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
6. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
7. Esteban Ocon, Alpine
8. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
9. Oscar Piastri, McLaren
10. Pierre Gasly, Alpine
11. Nico Hulkenberg, Haas
12. Gyanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo
13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas
14. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
15. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
16. Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri
17. Alexander Albon, Williams
18. Nyck DeVries, AlphaTauri
19. Lando Norris, McLaren
20. Logan Sargeant, Williams

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