Max Verstappen baffled by problem that ended Saudi Arabian GP qualifying

Max Verstappen will start 15th for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez took pole

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Max Verstappen was left scratching his head at the driveshaft problem that ended his qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and means he’ll start from 15th in Jeddah.

Verstappen had been fastest in every single session of the weekend leading up to Q2 but after he got out of shape early on a flying lap, his car went into ‘limp home mode’, ending Saturday.

In contrast to almost every other team, Red Bull have had almost no reliability problems leading up to the race but it means Verstappen has it all to do in the race.

“It’s something I don’t understand,” Verstappen told reporters after qualifying. “We never really had any issues with it, so far, but it happened. So we’ll analyze everything and try to understand how that happened.”

Verstappen refuses to look on bright side

Max Verstappen of Red Bull during final practice ahead of 2023 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen‘s early exit meant Sergio Perez was the man to beat after Red Bull had looked rapid all weekend in Jeddah.

He duly delivered, reaching pole comfortably ahead of Charles Leclerc in a session where Ferrari only showed their true pace late on.

Leclerc will line up three places ahead of Verstappen though, thanks to his 10-place grid penalty for changing an engine component.

It’ll be difficulty for Verstappen to fight through the field on the tight and twisty Jeddah Corniche Circuit but if anyone can do it it’s a Red Bull driver, and he could still contend for the podium or even a win.

However, when asked whether Red Bull‘s speed softened the blow, Verstappen had a blunt response.

“I think it shouldn’t matter if the car is really quick or not,” Verstappen said. “I think you should always be as let’s say disappointed or upset when things go wrong and we have to make sure that these things don’t happen again.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re finding upfront or lost you know, you want the car which is reliable.”

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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