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Max only 15th after qualifying in Jeddah: 'We never give up'

Published on 18 March 2023 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen will be starting the Grand Prix in Saudi-Arabia from the 15th fastest position. The Dutchman was forced to get out of the car in Q2 because of a broken drive shaft. Sergio Perez, Max’ team mate at Oracle Red Bull Racing, took the pole home. Leclerc clocked the second fastest time, but will have to start the race much lower down the grid tomorrow due to a ten-place grid penalty. Fernando Alonso snatched P3 while George Russell and Carlos Sainz rounded out the top five on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

“The drive shaft is broken, so then it’s all over”,  says Max afterwards. “Coming out of Turn ten I was full throttle for quite some time. Then suddenly I lost the drive shaft. There is not much I can do about it. It’s quite irritating that it happens right at this moment. Up till now, we have had a great weekend, every session went very well. It will be a bit more difficult to get to the front but it’s all about scoring points now. Naturally I would have liked to be further up at the front, but we cannot do anything about that now. So we just need to accept it and try to make the best of it tomorrow.”

On the question whether he is worried now, he replies: “No, it’s not something I am worried about, but it’s not something that should have happened. So we need to analyze why it did. Now we need to take the car apart and try and find the cause.”

Last year Max took the victory home having started from P14. On the question whether he is able to replicate that, he replies: “Nothing is impossible. I think we have the pace, so that is something quite positive. The only thing is that I think that it is a bit trickier to overtake here compared to Spa and also not to lose too much time. But as I said: you never know. Anything is possible on this track. We have seen a lot of crazy things. Realistically spoken, it will be difficult. A win is difficult, but we never give up.”

When it’s lights out in Jeddah, it’s Nyck de Vries who doesn’t have a good start: he suddenly loses the rear in the first corner. He is able to continue on though. Max bags three purple sectors and takes over the lead from his team mate. He does a 1:28.761 as this turns out to be the Dutchman’s one and only outing in Q1. Lando Norris hits the wall with his left front and seems to have broken his front wheel suspension. This means end of the road for the Briton.

Alonso puts his Aston Martin back to front, but is able to quickly continue on. His second attempt is good enough for a preliminary fourth fastest time. Logan Sargeant, whose first time is deleted, loses control of his Williams and barely manages to avoid the wall. At the end of Q1, we say goodbye to the following drivers: Sargeant, Norris, De Vries, Albon and Tsunoda.

In Q2, Verstappen is forced to abort his fast lap because of a moment in the first sector. On his second lap, Max tells his team that he is having engine problems. He manages to get back to the pits in his RB19 but is forced to get out of his car. It appears to be a broken drive shaft. This brings a premature end to Verstappen’s Jeddah qualifying session. Team mate Perez is the one who clocks the fastest time when Q2 is over, followed by Alonso, Leclerc, Sainz and Stroll. Apart from Verstappen, the following drivers also fail to make the cut: Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen, Zhou Guanyu and Nico Hulkenberg.

Perez wastes no time and at the start of Q3 immediately shows how fast he is in the RB19. He tops the board and is half a second faster than Leclerc in second place. Alonso takes over P2 from the Monegasque, also almost half a second down on Perez. Stroll was doing a good lap but is forced to abort his running when he makes an error. When the flag drops, Leclerc has managed to take back second place from Alonso. However, he will not be starting from there as he will be dropped due to a grid penalty. The third fastest time is for Alonso, while Russell and Sainz round out the top five.

Contest GP Saudi Arabia: win a by Max Verstappen signed Red Bull Racing Driver Cap 2023!

Results qualifying Saudi Arabia:

1Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:29.2441:28.6351:28.265
2Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:29.3761:28.9031:28.420
3Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:29.2981:28.7571:28.730
4George RussellRUSMercedes1:29.5921:29.1321:28.857
5Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:29.4111:28.9571:28.931
6Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:29.3351:28.9621:28.945
7Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:29.7071:29.2551:29.078
8Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:29.6891:29.3741:29.223
9Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:29.7061:29.3781:29.243
10Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:29.8901:29.4111:29.357
11Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:29.5471:29.451
12Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:29.6541:29.461
13Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:29.7441:29.634
14Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:29.9291:29.668
15Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:28.7611:49.953
16Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:29.939
17Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:29.994
18Nyck De VriesDEVAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:30.244
19Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:30.447
0Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes2:08.510