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Max on pole after qualifying in Jeddah: 'Very good day'

Published on 08 March 2024 by Misha van der Kroon

Max Verstappen has convincingly secured pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The Dutchman was more than three tenths faster than Charles Leclerc, who will start from P2 tomorrow. Max’s teammate Sergio Perez qualified third. Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri completed the top five. 

“It was a very good day,” Max says when getting out of the car. “A nice step forward compared to yesterday. We improved the car a little bit over night, which gave me a bit more confidence to attack the high speed corners. It depends a lot on your confidence around here. And today I felt very comfortable in the car. I didn’t expect to have such a good balance today. That helped a lot.”

Max was especially satisfied with his first flying lap in Q3. “I was very happy with how I did the lap, it almost felt like that failed lap in 2021. But today I completed it,” Max says with a smile. “2021 was really on the limit. The car was different, and there was another kind of pressure. It’s a lot more relaxed now.”

Looking forward to tomorrow, Max says: “there have been some crazy races here, a lot can happen. I am confident in the race pace we have. There is less tyre wear here, so I expect that others will do better as well. But if we have the same balance tomorrow during the race, I think things will go well.”

When the lights go green for the start of Q1 at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, it’s still very busy in Zhou Guanyu’s garage. The Chinese driver crashed a few hours earlier in the third practice session. He got out unscathed, but his team had a lot of work to do to get the car ready for qualifying. Just like in FP3, Oliver Bearman takes place in Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari. The Spaniard is suffering from appendicitis and will miss this race weekend. Max’s first lap of qualifying is a 1:28.491, which is good for the fastest time at the moment. Leclerc initially joins in P2 with a time that is almost two tenths slower than the Red Bull driver, but he goes for a second flying lap and improves his time to a 1:28.318. 

At the very last minute, the team of Sauber manages to get Zhou’s car ready, and with only two minutes on the clock, the driver is sent out for the first time this session. The session is unfortunately a few seconds too short, and Zhou does not cross the line in time to start a timed lap. Verstappen sets the fastest time in Q1 with a 1:28.171. Knocked out in Q1 are Zhou, Sergeant, Gasly, Ocon and Bottas. 

At the start of Q2, Nico Hülkenberg informs his team over the board radio that he has lost power, and a few moments later the German driver parks his car next to the track. This causes a red flag, when hardly anyone has set a time. Fortunately the session resumes quickly. Max’s first fast lap is a 1:28.078, putting himself at the top of the timesheets again. Alonso closes in on Max, setting a time that is just four hundredths slower. Despite a few good attempts, Bearman just misses out on Q3 by 36 thousandths. Also knocked out are Hülkenberg, Ricciardo, Magnussen and Albon.

Q3 starts with Perez setting the provisional fastest time with a 1:27.807. Shortly after, Max improves with three purple sectors and a 1:27.472, more than three tenths faster than his teammate, and more than five tenths faster than the man on P3: Fernando Alonso. Trying to improve his time, the Spaniard uses Hamilton’s slipstream on his last flying lap. Unfortunately he does not improve and he ends the session in fourth position. Max also does not improve his time, but his first time is enough for pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Leclerc sets a fast time and climbs to P2, and Perez takes P3. The top five is completed by Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri.

Contest GP Jeddah: win a by Max Verstappen signed Racing cap!

Results qualifying Saudi Arabia:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:28.1711:28.0331:27.472
2Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:28.3181:28.1121:27.791
3Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:28.6381:28.4671:27.807
4Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:28.7061:28.1221:27.846
5Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:28.7551:28.3431:28.089
6Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:28.8051:28.4791:28.132
7George RussellRUSMercedes1:28.7491:28.4481:28.316
8Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:28.9941:28.6061:28.460
9Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT1:28.9881:28.5641:28.547
10Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:28.2501:28.5781:28.572
11Oliver BearmanBEAFerrari1:28.9841:28.642
12Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:29.1071:28.980
13Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:29.0691:29.020
14Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT1:29.0651:29.025
15Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:29.055DNF
16Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari1:29.179
17Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:29.475
18Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:29.479
19Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:29.526
0Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber FerrariDNF