Red Bull Hit Back In Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Qualifying With Sergio Perez Claiming Pole

By Robert Haile

It might only be the second race of the season but so much has already happened.

During Free Practice on Friday the race was thrown into doubt as an oil refinery close to the circuit was attacked with black smoke seen rising in the background.

After a meeting of the teams it was decided that the race would go ahead.

For Red Bull’s Sergio Perez it is a good thing as the Mexican driver set two records as he became the first Mexican pole sitter after two hundred and fifteen race beating Australian Mark Webber one hundred and thirty race wait.

History maker Perez said: “Today was very special to me, I achieved the best lap of my life. I feel like I could do another thousand laps and there is no chance I can get the same lap, with the amount of perfection and risk.

“This is probably the most difficult track for qualifying all season, you know if you’re on pole here then you nailed the lap. You have to be very precise, you must take all the risks and the risk to reward is extremely high but the positions you have to take around this place to get the perfect lap are so hard.

“We came to Jeddah from a very difficult weekend in Bahrain and the Team have been pushing so hard out here and back in Milton Keynes, so I am extremely happy for them all.

“If anything, we were focusing more on the race pace so we felt Ferrari had the upper hand on us in qualifying. We will see if we have the pace to beat them in the race tomorrow.

“I need a good start and then I will try to control the race from there, it is going to be difficult because the Ferraris are quick and Max will be in the mix too.

“We have a long race ahead of us but I am confident we can come out on top again.”

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel is missing after not recovering from Covid-19 so Nico Hulkenberg will be driving after taking the wheel in Bahrain.

Heading into Q1 it was the Mercedes powered cars that were struggling as Lewis Hamilton exited in the first session since Brazil 2017.

Joining Hamilton at the back are both Williams’ Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, Aston Martin’s Hulkenberg and the problematic AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda who did manage a lap in qualifying.

Haas’ Mick Schumacher will miss the Grand Prix after a high speed crash led to him being air lifted to hospital, he is out of hospital and back in his hotel Haas confirmed.

After an hours delay McLaren found the going tough with both Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo going out along with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin.

China’s first F1 driver Zhou Guanyu continued his impressive debut with another strong qualifying session.

In the final session Perez secured pole ahead of the Ferrari’s of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Red Bull’s world champion Max Verstappen finished fourth with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in fifth ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell.

Fernando Alonso took seventh for Alpine, Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo is eighth with Pierr Gasly’s AlphaTauri beat Haas’ Kevin Magnussen to ninth.

Starting Grid

  1. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
  2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
  3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
  4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  5. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
  6. George Russell (Mercedes)
  7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
  8. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
  9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
  10. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
  11. Lando Norris (McLaren)
  12. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
  13. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
  14. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
  15. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
  16. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  17. Alex Albon (Williams)
  18. Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin)
  19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
  20. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)