Max Verstappen claims dominant Saudi Arabian GP pole ahead of Leclerc

Max Verstappen led Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez in qualifying for the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP

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Max Verstappen stormed to pole position for the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP and showed he’s leagues ahead of the other 19 drivers once again, dashing hopes that teams had closed to Red Bull over one lap.

Leclerc, Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso were separated by just half a tenth from second to fourth but none could get even within touching distance of Verstappen.

Oliver Beaman was less than four-hundredths away from reaching Q3 on his F1 debut and would’ve knocked out Lewis Hamilton had he been able to improve a fraction, as the seven-time champion struggled in Jeddah once more.

Nico Hulkenberg lost power early in Q2 to cause a brief red flag, and that wasn’t the only incident with more traffic problems in the pitlane and on-track proving a continuing theme from Bahrain despite the stewards attempting to clarify the rules.

Hamilton‘s last grand prix victory came in Saudi Arabia over 800 days ago but that run doesn’t look like finishing any time soon – Mercedes qualified seventh and eighth with both drivers almost a second behind Verstappen, George Russell led the way despite bailing out of his final run.

Oscar Piastri had a nervy start to qualifying clipping the wall three times in Q1 but recovered to lead teammate Lando Norris in Jeddah for the second year running, but any beliefs that McLaren were sandbagging in free practice look unlikely with the Australian comfortably behind Alonso.

Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten while Alex Albon, Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo joined Bearman and Hulkenberg as Q2 eliminations.

Zhou Guanyu‘s Sauber was still being patched up deep into Q1 following his crash in FP3, the Chinese driver emerged from his garage with just 112 seconds left in the session but couldn’t cross the line in time to start a lap and will start the grand prix 20th.

He’s joined at the back by teammate Valtteri Bottas, who complained that he was impeded on his final effort, the Alpines and Logan Sargeant as the American’s wait to outqualify teammate Alex Albon continues.

Bearman navigates grizzly session admirably

Oliver Bearman leaves the Ferrari garage for his first F1 qualifying session | @ScuderiaFerrari / X.com

Bearman went into the first qualifying session having only completed 21 laps of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in an F1 car, and was initially the slowest driver before improving to three-tenths behind Leclerc on his second run.

However, he did a ‘hot-stop’ before heading out to end Q1 for some pit-stop practice ahead of his debut grand prix – indicating he was over-fuelled for his first run – and safely made it through to the second session.

Bearman was cleared in an investigation for driving too slowly in Q1 but did get the chance to compete for the top-ten finale and was oh-so-close to knocking Hamilton out of Q2.

“That was a messy session, sorry about that”

Oliver Bearman’s team radio at the end of Q2

Bearman pushed to the limit throughout qualifying but that proved to be his undoing as he could never hook up a clean lap on the challenging 27-turn circuit. A tiny mistake in the final sector of Bearman‘s final attempt meant he just missed out on Q3, though Hamilton admitted he wasn’t improving on his final Q2 run.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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