Race Weekend Central

Max Verstappen Takes Pole Once Again at Saudi Arabia

Max Verstappen continued his dominant run in Formula 1, scoring the pole for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix by an impressive 0.319 seconds ahead of Charles Leclerc in second.

Verstappen set the fastest lap in Q3 on his banker lap, then set another lap that would have still been on pole at the conclusion of the session.

Sergio Perez had to settle for third behind Verstappen and Leclerc.

“We did a step forward from last year,” Leclerc said in his podium interview. “The car is in a much better place in race runs. We just have to focus on ourselves. We cannot change the [setup] for tomorrow, so we just have to optimize everything else for the race. Then we’ll see what’s possible.”

See also
Carlos Sainz Out of Saudi Arabian GP, Oliver Bearman Making F1 Debut

One of the big stories of the day in the F1 paddock was a surprise debut. Carlos Sainz is out for the rest of the weekend due to appendicitis, leaving a Ferrari seat open for the team’s reserve driver, 18-year-old Oliver Bearman. Bearman qualified 11th in advance of his first race.


After a bit of action in the first two rounds of qualifying, this one went incident free.

Pos.Driver No.DriverTeamTime from Leader
1.1Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:00:000m
2.16Charles LeclecFerrari+0.319s
3.11Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT+0.335s
4.14Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes+0.374s
5.83Oscar PiastriMcLaren Mercedes+0.617s
6.4Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes+0.660s
7.63George RussellMercedes+0.844s
8.44Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.988s
9.22Yuki TsunodaRB Honda RBPT+1.075s
10.18Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes+1.100s


With 11 minutes remaining in the session, Nico Hulkenberg lost all power in his Haas and stopped outside of the racing line in turn 8.

The red flag was waved stopping the session with 10 minutes and 58 seconds remaining.

Pos.Driver No.DriverTeamTime from Advancing
11.38Oliver BearmanFerrari+0.036s
12.23Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes+0.374s
13.20Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari+0.414s
14.3Daniel RicciardoRB Honda RBPT+0.419s
15.27Nico HulkenbergHaas FerrariN/A


As the track continued to grip up, safe teams were having to resort to slapping on sets of used soft tires and going out to qualify in a hurry.

After a very hard wreck near the end of Free Practice 3 earlier in the day, Zhou Guanyu was stuck in the garage until the final two minutes of this session. The KICK Sauber team had to rush to get its green machine back out.

Sadly, it wasn’t a miracle run. The Chinese driver just missed getting to the line in time and didn’t set a qualifying time.

Pos.Driver No.DriverTeamTime from Advancing
16.77Valtteri BottasKICK Sauber+0.072s
17.31Esteban OconAlpine Renault+0.366s
18.10Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault+0.370s
19.2Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes+0.417s
20.24Zhou GuanyuKICK Sauber FerrariN/A

This year’s first two F1 races are unique in that they will be contested on Saturdays instead of Sundays. Lights out for round two, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, will come at noon ET on Saturday, March 9. Coverage will be on ESPN.

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.

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To my mind I think max verstappen is like Jackson storm from cars 3 and I think he’s unstoppable

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