Verstappen’s change brings Perez to pole
Verstappen ran out of luck in training
Three free practice sessions were held under the aegis of the reigning world champion’s domination. If on Friday afternoon he became the only driver to complete a lap in Jeddah in under 1.5 minutes, on Saturday in the third free practice session Verstappen became the only one to complete a lap in under 1 minute 29 seconds. The session’s best time was 1 minute 28.485 seconds. And this is 0.613 seconds faster than the time of his partner, who showed the second result. By the standards of “Formula 1” the abyss. And even before the third time, Fernando Alonso is generally a second.
However, everything can be attributed to the relativity of the results in hot conditions. But the alarm bells for Max Verstappen were still ringing. On Friday he complained of gearbox problems and the Red Bull Cars decided to replace the gearboxes. Who knows if it was the new gearbox that was playing a cruel joke on Verstappen.
In the third practice, Nick de Vries suddenly had problems. The whole engine was changed to its Alpha Tauri. The team has problems with speed from time to time, and it got to the point that team boss Franz Tost jokingly said that he could no longer trust the engineers. But every joke has its share of jokes.
Sargent made a mistake, Norris broke his car
The two main losers of the first qualifying segment can be defined as the Williams and McLaren driver. On his first fast lap, the American made a closing corner and lost time in the stage, on the second he made a mistake and actually went back, narrowly avoiding an accident, and starting from third, after hitting a curb, broke the car completely. Sargent has no practice time left and, according to the rules, the judges will decide on his admission to the race.
A cornering mistake also cost Norris dearly. The “McLaren” driver touched the barrier on the inside of the final corner, damaged the tie rod and remained 19th on the grid. Norris had the company retire in the first segment at full speed by the pilots ‘Alpha Tauri’ and ‘Williams’.
The change deprives Verstappen of pole position
“I’m having engine trouble,” was broadcast from the air as cameras showed a Red Bull in a championship car, driving slowly around the track. It became clear that there would be no total domination of Verstappen and he certainly would not have taken pole position. However, Perez quickly punctuated all of the I – Verstappen may not be on pole, but Red Bull will certainly be there. His time was 0.122 seconds quicker than Alonso’s. And the reason for Verstappen’s breakdown, according to sources in the paddock, was the same new gearbox delivered on Saturday morning. Then the technicians will have something to think about.
And two other full teams didn’t make it to the final: Haas, where Nico Hulkenberg retrained Kevin Magnussen for the second time, and Alfa Romeo, where Zhou was quicker than Bottas. However, their company on the starting grid will be diluted by a red Ferrari.
Second pole and second chance for Perez
In the absence of a champion, the fight for pole position has only intensified. But here too Red Bull proved to be much stronger: Perez was 0.155 seconds faster in the final attempt than Leclerc, for whom the task was to qualify as high as possible. The miracle didn’t happen and the Monegasque still received a fine for the new electronic control unit: the loss of ten positions on the starting grid.
So Leclerc’s second result turned into 12th place as a starter. And Fernando Alonso, who last started with him in Canada last year, will start from the front row. Except that unlike last season’s Alpini, this time the two-time champion can impose a fight on Red Bull. And since the unstoppable Max is far behind, he’s counting on victory. But for this he will have to pass Perez, who took the second pole of his career. The first was here a year ago. It’s true, a year ago the Mexican finished fourth, so he has a second chance to win here.
Behind him will be George Russell of Mercedes and Carlos Sainz (Ferrari). Following Ocon (Alpin) and Hamilton (Mercedes), and then Piastri (McLaren) and Gasly (Alpin). The rivalry between the teams last year, despite problems in the first race for both, continues. And of course, it’s impossible not to notice that the newcomer to McLaren, already in the second race of the season, made it to the final of qualifying.
The second race of the season starts on Sunday at 20:00 Moscow time.