Like last year, Sergio Pérez took pole position in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, taking advantage of Max Verstappen’s misfortunes. The Mexican was ahead of Charles Leclerc, who will start twelfth, and Fernando Alonso, who will be back on the front row this Sunday.
Sergio Pérez knew how to seize his chance. Author of the first pole position of his career last season in Jeddah, the Mexican will once again lead the way this Sunday when the lights go out at the start of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. A pole position that seemed promised to Max Verstappen, author of the best time in each of the three free practice sessions despite a gearbox replaced at the start of the day and already at the forefront during Q1.
However, the mechanics of the Dutchman’s RB19 betrayed him on his second flying lap at the start of Q2. In full acceleration, Max Verstappen saw his transmission break and prevent him from defending his chances in the fight for pole position. Like the Belgian Grand Prix last season, the double world champion will have to whip this Sunday if he wants to hope to do well by starting from fifteenth position. Max Verstappen off the field, the way was royal for Sergio Pérez during Q3 but the Mexican was not exempt from a scare during the last segment of this qualifying session.
Pérez will have to be wary of Alonso
While Charles Leclerc was able to get ahead of a very fast Fernando Alonso during the first attempt, the Red Bull Racing driver got everyone to agree by completing a stunning lap in 1’28”265. The Mexican then pushed the Monegasque back almost half a second. In the last minutes, on a last set of soft tyres, Sergio Pérez started a final attempt strong but very quickly had to cut his effort due to a problem that the driver did not explain at the end of the session. . First on the track for the last attempt, Fernando Alonso got closer to 465 thousandths but this time did not allow the Asturian to secure the second time of this Q3.
Finally showing the potential of the SF-23, Charles Leclerc gave everything but could not do better than a lap 155 thousandths from the reference established by Sergio Pérez. However, the Monegasque will not be able to take advantage of the first row this Sunday at the start. Penalized ten places for the use of a third electronic control unit, the Ferrari driver will be in twelfth position to start the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The Alpines saw the Q3, Piastri too
Fernando Alonso will therefore be the main threat for Sergio Pérez, he who has not known victory since 2013, an eternity. Behind this duo, George Russell and a Carlos Sainz Jr in withdrawal this weekend compared to his teammate will be in the second row. They will be followed by Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon, who hopes for a less lively race than in Bahrain. Lewis Hamilton could not do better than eighth and will therefore be seventh on the grid alongside Oscar Piastri. The Australian, for his first Q3, saved the honor of McLaren because Lando Norris was taken out in Q1 with the 19th time.
After passing the “cut” in extremis at the start of the session, Pierre Gasly was able to recover to set the tenth fastest time, i.e. ninth place on the starting grid alongside Nico Hülkenberg. As a carefree weekend was shaping up, Max Verstappen will have to flex his muscles this Sunday to get back in the peloton and challenge his teammate Sergio Pérez and Fernando Alonso for victory. Nor should we forget Charles Leclerc, who will be keen to make people forget his zero points at the start of the season. On a track that won’t forgive many mistakes, this Saudi Arabian Grand Prix promises to be lively.