Saudi Arabia Qualifying Analyzed: Perez on top, Ferrari threatened by AMR
After a crazy first race of the season in Bahrain, it's time to continue with the 2023 F1 calendar with the next stop at the Jeddah International Circuit in Saudi Arabia.
First things first
Sergio Perez has qualified on pole for tomorrow's Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia, his second career pole, ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc (even though he has a 10-place grid penalty), and Fernando Alonso completing the top three.
Verstappen's qualifying ends tragically
His engine gave up, and the Red Bull driver stepped out of the car with 6 minutes left. He was yet to set a competitive laptime around the circuit.
Replays showed his engine slowly losing power on the straight. Verstappen was able to drive it to the garage, albeit slowly. He complained on the radio of having no power and his engineer promised to do everything they could - but to no avail. It was the end of the session for him and will start tomorrow's Grand Prix from P15.
Closely watched: Ferrari
Bahrain wasn't ideal for the Scuderia. They had component changes, and Leclerc retired from the race. Also, Sainz had lost the final podium spot to Fernando Alonso. Certainly, the team found themselves in the middle of the discussion once again, and it didn't change going into Jeddah.
Leclerc is penalized, starting tomorrow from P12. In the post-qualifying interview, the Monegasque admitted to having problems with his pace. He also said that Red Bull are "in another planet." The Scuderia is also threatened by the pace of the Aston Martins.
Carlos Sainz, on the other hand, managed to qualify only 5th - the Spaniard clearly struggled more around the track, falling 2 places short of his result from last year.
The big challenger awaits tomorrow with the race, and only then we'll know how well Ferrari holds up in the long run.
Piastri in, Norris out
The rookie moved through to Q3, Norris not so much - the McLaren driver will start tomorrow's Grand Prix in the 19th place, only ahead of Williams' Logan Sargeant. Norris, as confirmed by McLaren, suffered damage from clipping the wall during his lap. He returned to the garage following the incident and was unable to go out again, ending his qualifying early.
Piastri qualified P10 for Sunday - definitely a good result for a rookie in his second-ever full-time Formula 1 weekend.
Jeddah, a circuit not easily tamed
And we've seen that. Jeddah is a circuit that doesn't let you slip the slightest of mistakes. Veterans like Alonso and rookie Logan Sargeant both spun around the track, causing yellow flags and losing significant time, with the added tire wear from the lockups.
In Q2, Max Verstappen protagonized what he called a "big moment" in which he almost lost it - which would have been very, very bad. He did ruin his lap in this incident. He suffered his engine problems right after it.