Sergio Perez Takes Pole In Dramatic Qualifying For Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

By Robert Haile

Red Bull have taken pole position for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix despite World Champion Max Verstappen suffering a loss of power.

Having been dominant in free practice the Red Bull’s of Verstappen and Sergio Perez were on track to lock out the front row in Jeddah.

The duo were first and second in the first session of qualifying before the flying Verstappen went out in fifteenth with a driveshaft issue.

Perez picked up where they left off taking pole position ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who takes a ten place Grid penalty and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA – MARCH 18: Pole position qualifier Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing (C), Second placed qualifier Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari (L) and Third placed qualifier Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team (R) pose for a photo in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 18, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Pérez said: “It was tricky that Q3, especially not getting that second lap. You really feel the Formula One cars coming alive in this place. Maximising that lap was very important.

“Max (Verstappen) has been really strong the whole weekend, so hopefully tomorrow we can have both cars up there.”

Mercedes’ George Russell took fourth with Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari finished fifth and Lance Stroll continued Aston Martin’s good start to the season with sixth.

READ MORE: George Russell Secures Mercedes A Second Row Start

Esteban Ocon finished the highest Alpine in seventh as Pierre Gasly took tenth in a vastly improved qualifying with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes ahead of Oscar Piastri in his first appearance for McLaren in the third qualifying session.

READ MORE: Alpine In A Positive Position Ahead Of Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg missed out on a top ten shootout appearance in eleventh, Zhou Guanyu finished twelfth for Alfa Romeo to split the Haas drivers with Kevin Magnussen in thirteenth.

Valtteri Bottas will start in front of Verstappen in fourteenth for Alfa Romeo.

Both AlphaTauri and Williams drivers went out in the first qualifying session with Yuki Tsunoda leading the way in sixteenth with Alex Albon and Nyck de Vries in front of a struggling Lando Norris for McLaren.

It was a session to forget for Williams Logan Sargeant who had a lap time deleted for track limits before spinning on another and then technical issues left him in twentieth.

The second race of the season on the streets of Jeddah starts 5:00pm (17:00) GMT on Sunday.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Qualifying

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