Sergio Perez takes surprise pole in Saudi GP

Sergio Perez takes surprise pole in Saudi GP

Sergio Perez of Red Bull took a surprise pole position in the second ever Saudi Grand Prix ahead of the Ferrari’s of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz with his team-mate Max Verstappen finishing fourth.

It was the first career pole for Sergio Perez in 215 attempts after a scintillating last-gasp effort in a dramatic and heavily disrupted qualifying session in Saudi Arabia.

The Mexican snatched top spot from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the final seconds, with the pair split by just two-hundredths of a second at the conclusion of the qualifying session.

Ferrari had once again appeared favorites by going fastest in both Q1 and Q2, and then setting the early pace in Q3 first via Sainz, and then Leclerc. But Perez saved his best for his final run to claim a dream first pole at his 215th attempt – the longest wait in F1 history.

The session had paused for an hour during Q2 after a violent high-speed crash for Haas’ Mick Schumacher, who was extricated to the medical center for precautionary checks.

That was not the only surprise of the night as the winner of the last years inaugural Saudi GP, Lewis Hamilton, was eliminated in Q1 in 16th place.

Hamilton’s team mate George Russell only just squeezed into Q3, before eventually claiming sixth place a fraction behind Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in fifth. Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull had to settle for fourth, two-tenths down on his team mate.

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas claimed a share of the fourth row at sixth and seventh, just ahead of Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen.

McLaren suffered a double exit in Q2 leading Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo to a 11th and 12th start respectively.

Guanyu Zhou was 13th but starts 12th due to Daniel Ricciardo’s three-place post-session penalty, with Schumacher’s opening effort in Q2 enough for 14th, ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.

Schumacher will not participate in the race, thus promoting Stroll to 13th ahead of Ricciardo. Hamilton and the drivers behind are promoted one place apiece too.

After the uncertainty over the status of the race before qualifying behind them, Red Bull will be looking to land a counter punch on Ferrari in Jeddah to get themselves back into World Championship contention.

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