Briton was investigated for ignoring double yellow flags and was issued a reprimand for impeding Nikita Mazepin during FP3
By Olivia Kairu
Lewis Hamilton grabbed his first consecutive pole position of the season following Max Verstappen’s unlucky collision with the wall on the last corner of the circuit at Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
The Red Bull driver had purple sectors in the first two segments of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit when he found the wall to put an end to his pole attempt.
Shortly before, Hamilton posted a flying lap time of 1:27.511s to dethrone Verstappen from the top of the timesheet after pitting for a set of new red-marked soft tyres and a change of front wing.
Valtteri Bottas also went fastest than the Dutchman to hand Mercedes a front-row lockout.
“What a tough track this is. Incredibly technical and complex. It’s amazing what they’ve built here, track-wise,” pole-sitter Hamilton said after the session.
“The speed and the pace around here is phenomenal. We were quick through practice but for some reason FP3 and particularly qualifying, (we were) just lacking pace, struggling with the tyres. So for us to get a one-two, I’m really proud of Valtteri and the men and women in our team that have just been working so hard.”
Verstappen was set off to respond with a lap time that would secure the pole.
The championship leader was racing right on the limit from the beginning of his final lap at Turn 2 where he ran wide but swiftly corrected and continued the astonishing lap. While approaching the final corner, however, he locked up and slid into the wall, causing damage to the wishbone of his Red Bull and fear of gearbox damage.
Verstappen ended up in P3, just 0.142s off Hamilton’s time.
“That was terrible,” Verstappen said. “We don’t understand what happened. I locked up and I still tried to, of course, keep the car on the track to try to finish the lap but it clipped the rear and I had to stop. P3 is is a bit disappointing.”
New old engine for Bottas
Bottas had to change his power unit after the final practice session.
Mercedes issued a short statement explaining the reason for the decision “We had a fuel leak on Bottas’ PU at the end of FP3. Without sufficient time to diagnose and resolve, we are swapping it for a unit from the pool.”
He will, therefore, hold onto P2 and will not face a grid penalty on Sunday.
The Finn received praise from his Mercedes teammate as he soon departs the team and joins Alfa Romeo next year
“The collaboration has been just epic with Valtteri, he’s the best teammate there’s even been in this sport, for sure,” Hamilton said.
Charles Leclerc splits the Red Bulls to start fourth in the race ahead of Sergio Perez. The Ferari driver had a massive crash in FP2 that left his Ferrari in need of extensive repair.
His teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. had a far from straightforward qualifying session.
The Spaniard almost ran into the back of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri at Turn 3 in Q1, leading to an investigation from the stewards that have issued the AlphaTauri driver a warning for impeding.
Later, the Ferrari driver had a touch of oversteer whilst exiting Turn 10 causing damage to the rear-wing endplate, contributing to his P15 finish. Sainz has expressed his disappointment stating the “snap cost whole qualifying.”
Gasly escaped what had the potential to become a messy qualifying session to finish in P6 ahead of rookie teammate Yuki Tsunoda, who qualified in an impressive P8.
Lando Norris split the two AlphaTauri drivers qualifying seventh and above Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren, who lost out on another Q2 appearance by finishing P11.
Esteban Ocon out-qualified his teammate, two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso, who was unable to carry on the luck from his P3 podium in Qatar towards a top 10 qualifying, managing only the thirteenth position.
Antonio Giovinazzi rounds up the top 10 in what is his second-last Grand Prix weekend before departing F1 to join Formula E debut in 2022. Kimi Raikkonen placed his Alfa Romeo in P12 just shy off Giovinazzi’s time by just two-tenths of a second.
George Russell also missed out on a Q3 performance, qualifying in P14 ahead of fellow Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, P16.
Williams and all teams are paying tribute this weekend to founder Sir Frank Williams, who passed away at the age of 79 last week, with special additions to their livery.
It was a bad Saturday for the Aston Martins. Sebastian Vettel will start the race in the seventeenth position, followed by Lance Stroll in P18.
Human rights controversy
In lieu of the appalling human rights conditions in Saudi Arabia and controversy surrounding the decision to race at Jeddah, Vettel organized a women’s-only karting event in an effort to shift the conversation away from the “shortcomings of certain countries in regards to human rights and other things.”
The Haas Duo line up at the back of the grid in P19 for Mick Schumacher and P20 for Nikita Mazepin.
The Saudi Arabia Grand Prix is scheduled for 12:30 PM EST, 9:30 AM PST.
See the full Saudi Arabia Qualifying results below: