Connect with us


Verstappen won qualifying for the Saudi Grand Prix. The newcomer in Ferrari gave a great performance

Max Verstappen has been fearlessly making his way through the Formula 1 season so far this year. The reigning world champion once again toyed with the competition during qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.



Max Verstappen has been fearlessly making his way through the Formula 1 season so far this year. The reigning world champion once again toyed with the competition during qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. He was more than three tenths of a second behind second-placed Charles Leclerc. Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Pérez rounded out the top three. Oliver Bearman, who had to replace the ill Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari, earned the plaudits of all the fans with a final eleventh place.

After the opening round of the season in Bahrain, Formula 1 jumped across the Arabian Peninsula to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The super-fast city circuit there provides a unique adrenaline rush for the 20 drivers of the queen of motorsport.

The transition from last year’s event to this year’s event has resulted in an unchanged driver line-up in the starting field for the first time ever. However, this anomaly has not even been broken two full grand prix into the 2024 season by Carlos Sainz, who has been stricken with acute appendicitis. Ferrari reacted and put reserve driver Oliver Bearman in the Spaniard’s place.

A glance at the results of all three free practice sessions suggested a continuation not only of last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix, but also of the whole of last season. Championship leader Max Verstappen won the first and third practice sessions held during the day. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso dominated the second free practice session in the most representative conditions with regards to qualifying and the race.

Q1: The rookie didn’t shy away from it at all

McLaren’s young driver Oscar Piastri provided the first dramatic moment of Saudi qualifying for the spectators. Although his initial quick attempt was enough for provisional first place, his onboard through the final corner suggested a very close affair with the outside wall. A later view from the track-side camera even showed some pretty solid contact with the barrier.

However, the Aussie was outpaced moments later by the trio of Alonso, Leclerc and Verstappen, whose time of 1:28.491 stood as the fastest until the Monegasque driver in red trumped him by more than a tenth of a second. However, the three-time world champion did not accept that he would not finish at the top of the charts in Q1 either.

Verstappen and his best attempt of 1:28.171 was enough to take the top spot in the end. Slightly surprisingly, Stroll squeezed in a tenth and a half behind the Dutchman ahead of Leclerc.

Sainz’s replacement Bearman also performed admirably. Although he was almost seven tenths behind his teammate Leclerc, the current F2 driver showed that he is not afraid to drive through the unforgiving Arab wall in a much faster car.

On the other side of the field, Alpine followed up his qualifying in Bahrain with seventeenth and eighteenth places respectively. He didn’t make it to Q2 along with Valtteri Bottas, Logan Seargent and Kuan-yu Zhou, who missed out on a fast time due to repairs to his car after his own accident in third practice.

Q2: Hats off to the teenager

The middle segment of qualifying did not start happily for Haas and Nico Hülkenberg. The German’s car lost power shortly after exiting the pits, forcing a brief stoppage in the pit lane after he parked in the pit lane. Only the Mercedes and McLaren monoblocs managed sufficiently quick attempts before the red flags were displayed.

While Verstappen’s first fleeting lap put him nearly half a second ahead of teammate Sergio Pérez, Alonso and Leclerc didn’t land far behind, both only a tenth behind the world champion. Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were both just outside the top five.

Bearman had set himself the challenge of a lifetime, staying close to a sensational move into the battle for pole position just before the end of Q2. However, his final attempt fell just a few hundredths of a second short of tenth-placed Hamilton.

Along with the 18-year-old making his Formula 1 debut, the foursome of Alexander Albon, Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg were all out of the running. Bearman’s demise in qualifying, on the other hand, brought joy to Yukio Cunoda, who was the only driver outside the top five teams to make it through to the final segment of qualifying.

Q3: Verstappen on pole position

The first half of the shootout for pole position was quite predictably dominated by Verstappen, whose back was covered by teammate Pérez for the time being by around three and a half tenths. Despite the obvious joy of his attempt on the team radio, Alonso lost more than half a second to first place. The rest of the top ten were eight tenths or more behind the untouchable Verstappen.

So it was almost clear that the biggest changes in the standings were more likely to be concentrated between second and tenth. Pérez did not improve with his second attempt, which Leclerc took advantage of to squeeze into the front row by sixteen thousandths.

Alonso and the McLaren drivers kept pace with Verstappen in the first two sectors, but eventually lost a couple of tenths in the last one against the change. The 42-year-old veteran took the final fourth place, with Piastri and Norris claiming the third row for tomorrow’s race.

Mercedes had to settle for row four, with Russell ahead of Hamilton. Cunoda and Stroll rounded out the top ten. Verstappen took his second pole position of the season by more than three tenths. You can see the detailed results of Friday’s qualifying in the post embedded below.

Sources: F1, Twitter, Autosport