Sergio Perez replicates last year’s pole position in the Saudi Arabian GP. It’s up to the Mexican to defend the honor of Red Bull, after Vestappen had to stop in Q2 due to a failure of an axle shaft that stopped him. Second on the timesheets is a great Leclerc, but the Monegasque will have to start 12th due to the penalty of ten places on the grid. Extraordinary Alonso who will place the Aston Martin in the front row. Bad Sainz not very incisive: the Madrid player is fifth and will be in the second row tomorrow.
He was the favourite. He seemed uncatchable and, instead, Max Verstappen will start 15th in the Saudi Arabian GP: he had to stop in Q2 due to a mechanical problem that blocked his RB19. He seems to have been blocked by a semi-axle failure: Jeddah highlighted a reliability problem in the Milton Keynes car. It is legitimate to think so because Sergio Perez had changed the gearbox and then recommended a change also on the world champion’s car.
It wasn’t enough: Max took his car to the pits and then left the cockpit with disarming coldness. He has accustomed us to impossible comebacks and he certainly won’t be afraid to give it a try tomorrow with the best car at the moment. Is it just the semi-axle that has broken or will there be repercussions on the transmission as well? There is alarm in the world champion team which is celebrating Sergio Perez’s pole position.
The Mexican clocked a 1’28″265, replicating last year’s pole start: it will be Checo’s turn to sprint in front of everyone waiting for Verstappen to arrive from behind. Perez set the time in the first run and was unable to improve in the second, but managed to keep a 155 thousandth margin over Charles Leclerc.
The Monegasque’s Ferrari will start 12th tomorrow and Charles was able to invent a lap that led him to blow Red Bull’s neck. The SF-23 is therefore able to make a good impression in qualifying: it will have to demonstrate that it has the pace in the race as well. Unfortunately Carlos Sainz was missing: the Spaniard never adapted to Jeddah and was already struggling to get out of Q2.
He will start fourth on the grid, but is fifth in the timesheets with a gap of half a second from his teammate. Way too much. He had the great opportunity to fight for pole position, but almost certainly the Madrilenian found himself uncomfortable in not having prepared for qualifying in free practice and paid for a big delay in the first sector.
Ferrari limited the damage on a particular day that put the big favorite, Verstappen, out of the game and at the time the great protagonist was Fernando Alonso. With Leclerc’s retreat, the Spaniard settles his “verdona” in the front row. Fernando paid almost half a second from Perez today, but in the race he could become a great protagonist. AMR23 has an excellent pace: the old Asturian man confirmed that he is intact in body and mind. Lance Stroll with the analogous Aston Martin didn’t go beyond sixth place. There is a lot of Spanish in the Silverstone team’s performance.
Mercedes limits the damage: George Russell is fourth on the track and will start third at the start. The Englishman did his best to bring the W14 to half a second behind Red Bull, scraping the barrel of the black arrow, while the demotivated Lewis Hamilton ran aground in eighth place, also overtaken by the more consistent Alpine of Esteban Ocon by the other Frenchman, PierreGasly, who finished tenth.
Excellent performance by Oscar Piastri: the Australian is ninth with McLaren and enters Q3 for the first time with a car, the MCL60, which is anything but lightning fast. Credit to the young man who exploited all the material that had been made available to him.
Haas had the potential to enter the top 10, but Nico Hulkenberg had the first half canceled as he was unable to repeat his performance in the second run: the German is 11th ahead of the best Alfa Romeo, that of Guanyu Zhou, capable of do consistently better than Valtteri Bottas only 14th with the second C43. Kevin Magnussen didn’t find the pace and settled for 13th place with the VF-23.
The difficult moment for AlphaTauri continues: Yuki Tsunoda fails to pass the cut in Q1 by 10 thousandths, but the Japanese suffers from an uncompetitive AT04 and has to settle for 16th place. Tsunoda manages to do better than Nyck De Vries who had to miss the third free practice session due to the replacement of the Honda engine. The Dutchman still hasn’t found his pace with the team from Faenza who have placed their trust in him.
The two Williams were also out: Alexander Albon finished in an anonymous 17th place with the best FW45, while Logan Sargeant had clocked a 1’29″721 which would have allowed him to go into Q2, but the American touched the white line of the box and had his good performance cancelled. Logan tried again but stopped on the track after a harmless spin. Qualifying to be canceled because it could have had another outcome.
Bad Lando Norris who in his first attempt grazed a wall with the front left: the Englishman broke his arm and the McLaren mechanics didn’t have time to repair it so he was cut off in spite of himself: mistakes pay off …