BREAKING: Sergio Perez takes Saudi GP pole as Max Verstappen suffers mechanical failure

Sergio Perez took pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, taking advantage of a mechanical issue for team-mate Max Verstappen, while Lewis Hamilton had his fastest time deleted.

The Dutchman was the favourite for pole in Jeddah but failed to make it out of Q2. He suffered a drive shaft problem which could not be fixed and means he will start Sunday’s race on the eighth row. Perez managed to pick up the pieces for Red Bull to set the fastest time.

Charles Leclerc set the second quickest time of the session but must take a 10-place grid penalty. That means Fernando Alonso will be on the front row alongside Perez. Meanwhile, Hamilton had a lap deleted which means he will be seventh on the grid.

Lando Norris was the biggest loser of qualifying as he failed to get out of Q1. He will start Sunday’s race 19th on the grid after damaging his front left wheel by hitting the wall. He returned to the pits in the hope it could be fixed, but McLaren were unable to get him back out on track.

Only Logan Sargeant will be behind him on the grid after the American failed to set a representative lap time in three attempts. The first was deleted for a track limits violation, the second ended with a spin and the third was aborted after breaking something on his Williams when bouncing over a kerb.

Nyck de Vries, Alex Albon and Yuki Tsunoda were the other casualties of Q1 as Oscar Piastri made it through to the second part of qualifying for the first time in F1. And he built on that to book a place in Q3 as well, though the big story in the second part of the session was Verstappen’s problem.

He told his team he had an engine issue and limped back to the pits. But it was a problem which could not be fixed in time to get him back out on track and he will start the Saudi race on the eighth row of the grid as a result.

Leclerc was said he was “very happy” to set the second quickest time in the session, but caveated that by adding: “Red Bull are on another planet.” He may battle with Verstappen early on in Sunday’s race with both of them starting further back than usual.

George Russell went fourth quickest and so will start on the second row alongside Carlos Sainz. Lance Stroll set the quickest first sector of all and, for a second, threatened an unlikely pole position. But he will be very happy to start fifth in front of Esteban Ocon, with Hamilton seventh on the fourth row with Piastri.

Full F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix qualifying results

  1. Sergio Perez – Red Bull
  2. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari (10-place grid penalty to be applied)
  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. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo
  13. Kevin Magnussen – Haas
  14. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo
  15. Max Verstappen – Red Bull
  16. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri
  17. Alex Albon – Williams
  18. Nyck de Vries – AlphaTauri
  19. Lando Norris – McLaren
  20. Logan Sargeant – Williams

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