Sergio Perez secured pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for a second consecutive year after team mate Max Verstappen was eliminated in 15th after a driveshaft failure.
Verstappen lost power midway through Q2, dooming him to start no higher than 15th. With the other Red Bull out of contention, Perez duly secured pole position with Charles Leclerc second for Ferrari ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin. However, Leclerc’s 10-place power unit grid penalty will see him drop to 12th, promoting Alonso onto the front row.
The second qualifying session of the season began with a large queue at the end of the pit lane, led by the two Williams of Alexander Albon and team mate Logan Sargeant. Having missed all of final practice while his AlphaTauri’s power unit was changed, Nyck de Vries ventured out for his first lap of the day, but immediately spun under braking for turn one on his first flying lap attempt. He recovered back onto the track and returned to the garage.
Sargeant appeared to set the initial benchmark with a 1’29.721, but his effort was deleted for putting his wheel over a forbidden section on the inside of the pit straight. That elevated Nico Hulkenberg to the top of the times in his Haas, but he was replaced by the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Lando Norris had to abandon his qualifying effort after striking the inside barrier at the apex of the final corner. He entered the pits to have his left-front suspension and wheel checked.
Fernando Alonso’s first timed effort was ruined in turn two, when he spun under throttle on the exit of the corner. After a charge lap to prepare, Alonso successfully completed a lap that put him into fourth place.
Sargeant attempted to set his first valid lap time but lost control at turn 22, spinning across the circuit but managing to avoid the barriers. That ruined the laps of Hulkenberg and the two Alpine drivers of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon who had been set to improve before reaching the yellow flag zone.
In the closing minutes, the five drivers in the drop zone were Norris, the two AlphaTauris of Yuki Tsunoda and De Vries, plus Gasly and Sargeant. Gasly managed to move into 11th with seconds remaining, dropping Valtteri Bottas into danger in 16th, until the Alfa Romeo driver improved to 14th.
Tsunoda also improved on his personal best, but only moved onto the bubble of safety in 15th, while Albon was bumped into danger in 17th. At the chequered flag, only Oscar Piastri had…
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