Verstappen’s gearbox puts Pérez on pole
Verstappen has exhausted his luck in training
Three free practice sessions were held under the auspices of the reigning world champion’s domain. If on Friday afternoon he became the only driver to complete a circle in Jeddah in less than a minute and a half, on Saturday in the third free practice session Verstappen became the only driver to complete a circle in less than 1 minute 29 seconds. The best time of the session 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 half, Fernando Alonso is usually a second.
However, everything can be attributed to the relativity of the results in hot conditions. But the wake-up call for Max Verstappen still sounded. On Friday, he complained about gearbox problems and the Red Bull cars decided to replace the gearboxes. Who knew that it was the new gearbox that would play a cruel joke on Verstappen.
In the third practice, Nick de Vries suddenly struggled. The entire engine was changed to his Alpha Tauri. The team occasionally struggles with speed, and it got to the point where team leader Franz Tost joked that he couldn’t trust the engineers anymore. But every joke has its share of jokes.
Sargent made a mistake, Norris broke the car
The two main losers of the first qualifying segment can be called the Williams and McLaren drivers. The American, on his first flying lap, did a cutting turn and lost the test time, on the second he made a mistake and spun effectively, narrowly avoiding an accident, and at the start of the third, after hitting a curb, completely broke the car. . Sargent ran out of testing time and, according to the regulations, 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 last corner, damaged the tie-rod and remained 19th on the grid. Norris had the company retire in the first segment at full strength from the “Alpha Tauri” and “Williams” pilots.
Gearbox deprives Verstappen of pole position
“I’ve got engine trouble,” blared on the air as cameras showed a Red Bull in a championship car, driving slowly around the track. It became clear that there would not be a total domination of Verstappen and he would definitely not take pole position. However, Pérez was quick to dot the i’s: Verstappen may not be on pole, but Red Bull will definitely be there. His time was 0.122 seconds faster than Alonso’s. And the reason for the breakdown in Verstappen, according to paddock sources, was the same new gearbox delivered on Saturday morning. So the technicians will have something to think about.
And two more full-strength teams did not make it to the final: Haas, where Nico Hulkenberg requalified Kevin Magnussen for the second time, and Alfa Romeo, where Zhou was quicker than Bottas. However, his company on the starting grid will be diluted by a red Ferrari.
Second pole and second chance for Pérez
Lacking a champion, the fight for pole position intensified. But even here Red Bull turned out to be much stronger: Pérez was 0.155 seconds faster in the final attempt than Leclerc, for whom the task was to qualify as high as possible. The miracle did not happen, and the Monegasque still received a fine for the new electronic control unit – the loss of ten places on the starting grid.
So Leclerc’s second result became a 12th place start. And Fernando Alonso, who last rode with him in Canada last year, will start the race from the front row. Only unlike the Alpins last season, this time the two-time champion can force a fight on Red Bull. And since the unstoppable Max is far behind, then he is counting on the victory. But for that he will need to overtake Pérez, who got the second pole of his career. The first one was here a year ago. 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). After Ocon (Alpin) and Hamilton (Mercedes), and then Piastri (McLaren) and Gasly (Alpin). Last year’s rivalry between the teams, despite first-race problems for both, continues. And of course, it is impossible not to notice that the newcomer to McLaren, already in the second race of the season, reached the final of the classification.
The second race of the season starts on Sunday at 20:00 Moscow time.