A topsy-turvy qualifying session saw Red Bull’s Sergio Perez claim pole position and will be first on the starting grid for the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP, just ahead of Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin.
It was expected that Max Verstappen would cruise to pole position after dominating all three practice sessions, but a mechanical failure means the Dutchman starts in a lowly 15th place on the grid.
That left an opening for the other F1 protagonists to stake a claim for first, and his Red Bull teammate pulled out a stunning lap to make sure pole position was his.
Ferrari, who had struggled all weekend with engine issues, managed to salvage some performance when Charles Leclerc put a time just 0.155s off Perez’s pole offering. However, the Monegasque drops to 12th after taking a 10-place grid penalty.
Leclerc’s drop means Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso moves onto the front row of the grid, alongside Perez, and George Russell in the Mercedes takes an unlikely third position.
Elsewhere, Lewis Hamilton starts seventh as he was unable to match his Mercedes teammate. And Oscar Piastri put in a marvellous performance to place his McLaren eighth.
Here is the full starting grid for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix starting grid
|1||Sergio Perez||Red Bull|
|2||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin|
|5||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin|
|11||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo|
|14||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo|
|15||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|18||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri|
- Charles Leclerc – 10-place grid penalty – Additional power unit element has been used