Verstappen storms to Saudi pole as Bearman 11th on debut


Max Verstappen claimed a first pole position at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in dominant fashion as Oliver Bearman qualified 11th on his debut.

After the first runs in Q3, Verstappen held a sizeable advantage of 0.335s over team-mate Sergio Perez on a 1:27.472, but could not improve on his second attempt.

However, Charles Leclerc nabbed ahead of Perez on his second attempt to secure a fifth-straight front-row lock-out with Verstappen.

Perez took third on the grid ahead of Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri in fourth and fifth as Lewis Hamilton could only manage eighth, some 0.988s down on Verstappen’s pole time.

In his first qualifying in F1 deputising for the appendicitis-stricken Carlos Sainz, Bearman was 11th, and narrowly missed out on a Q3 berth at the first attempt.


On the first runs in Q3, Verstappen immediately put down his 1:27.472 marker that ensured both his laps were actually good enough for pole, with Perez leading Alonso and Leclerc.

On the second attempts, Verstappen did not improve, but neither did Perez as Leclerc found time to pip the Mexican by 0.016s with Alonso also within a tenth of the Monegasque’s time.

Piastri nabbed ahead of Lando Norris in the second McLaren by less than half-a-tenth as Mercedes struggled at the end, with George Russell out-qualifying Hamilton once again by 0.084s.

The top 10 was rounded out by Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll for RB and Aston Martin.

Bearman knocked out in Q2

The second segment was quickly red-flagged just four minutes in after Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas ground to a halt at Turn 8, reporting a loss of power.

After a quick delay to recover the stricken machine, the session resumed with Verstappen quickly climbing to the top of the times, eventually lowering the fastest to a 1:28.033.

On his first attempt, Bearman aborted after a mistake in the first sector, but regrouped for a further two flying laps, the last of which was a 1:28.642, just 0.036s slower than Hamilton who squeezed the Mercedes through to the Q3 shootout.

The Briton also sustained a wall-strike at Turn 24.

Bearman was joined by Alex Albon, Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo and Hulkenberg in being eliminated in Q2.

It is the second straight race in which Ricciardo had been out-qualified by team-mate Tsunoda, who advanced through in eighth place, as less than a tenth separated Verstappen-Leclerc-Alonso up front.

			© XPBimages

© XPBimages

Zhou fails to set a lap

In Q1, repairs continued by the Stake mechanics after Zhou Guanyu’s hefty FP3 accident, with the Chinese driver only exiting the pits to attempt a flying lap.

However, despite leaving with two minutes on the clock, he was unable to start a flying lap, and so must ask the stewards for permission to race.

He was joined by team-mate Valtteri Bottas who was the first driver to fall in 16th, just 0.072s behind Albon, with Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly also falling again in Q1.

Logan Sargeant in 19th made it the same five drivers eliminated in Q1 for the second straight race following Bahrain as Verstappen topped the segment from Stroll on a 1:28.171.

Mercedes had opted to send both drivers out for the first runs in Q1 on the Mediums to try and save a set of Soft tyres – but this experiment failed as they were both on the bubble after those runs.

Russell climbed to fourth and Hamilton 11th after the Soft tyre runs to safely advance through to Q2.

			© XPBimages

© XPBimages



Leave a Comment