Pérez takes pole in Jeddah ahead of Leclerc and Alonso

Verstappen hits trouble


By Franck Drui

18 March 2023 - 19:13
Pérez takes pole in Jeddah ahead of (...)

Sergio Pérez claimed his second consecutive pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, beating Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by 0.155s as Fernando Alonso finished third for Aston Martin. There was disappointment for Max Verstappen, though, as the championship leader was forced to retire from the session with a driveshaft problem in Q2.

In Q1 the early pavce was set by Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg, with a lap of 1:29.875, as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took P2, 0.028s off the German’s time. Pérez then moved ahead with a lap of 1:29.261. Verstappen was on track, though, and the Dutchman quickly established a new benchmark, posting an opening lap of 1:28.761 to claim top spot, half a second clear of his team-mate.

Leclerc improved to 1:29.376 to rise to third place ahead of Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz, but Mercedes’ George Russell and Lewis Hamilton then split the Ferrari drivers with Russell taking fourth spot ahead of his team-mate. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso then emerged for the first time and the Spaniard vaulted to P4 behind Leclerc with a lap of 1:29.404.

Verstappen, comfortable in P1, electeds to stay in the Red Bull garage for the final runs, while Pérez headed out on track for a final attempt and he found time in the final two thirds of the track and trimmed his Q1 personal best to 1:29.244.

Behind him Alonso held onto third ahead of team-mate Stroll, with the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz in fifth and sixth ahead of Hülkenberg, Russell, the Alfa Romeo of Zhou Guanyu and Hamilton’s Mercedes.

Eliminated at the end of Q1 were the AlphaTauri cars of Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries in P16 and P18 respectively, 17th-placed Williams driver Alex Albon, McLaren’s Lando Norris, who clipped the wall and damaged his steering and the second Williams of Logan Sargeant.

At the start of the second segment, Alonso seized the initiative and he took P1 with a lap of 1:28.757. Behind him, Verstappen was winding up for his first flying lap of the session, but he was soon on the radio reporting a mechanical issue. He limped back to the pits but after being pushed back to the garage he quickly climbed out of the car, his qualifying session ended by a driveshaft issue. Verstappen finished in P15.

Pérez took over the reins at Red Bull and on his opening lap of the session he posted a time of 1:28.874, just under a tenth off Alonso’s opener.

There was more to come from the Mexican though and on his final run, after posting personal best times in the opening two sectors, he went purple in the final third to leapfrog Alonso and claim P1 with lap of 1:28.635, 0.122s ahead of the Spaniard, who was followed by the Ferrari pair of Leclerc and Sainz.

It was Leclerc who set the early pace in Q3. Alonso crossed the line in 1:29.925 but he was bypassed by both Russell and then Leclerc, who went quickest with a lap of 1:28.757.

Pérez , though, was one of the last on track for the opening runs and after a solid opening sector, the Mexican set purple times across the rest of the lap and he secured top spot with a lap of 1:28.265, almost half a second clear of Leclerc. The time remained unchallenged in the final runs and Pérez duly took his first pole of the year and the second of his career ahead of Leclerc, who is set for a 10-place grid penalty for the race, and Alonso.

Pos.DriverTeamQ1 timeQ2 timeQ3 time
01 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:29.244 1:28.635 1:28.265
02 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1:29.376 1:28.903 1:28.420
03 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:29.298 1:28.757 1:28.730
04 George Russell Mercedes W14 1:29.592 1:29.132 1:28.857
05 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF-23 1:29.411 1:28.957 1:28.931
06 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:29.335 1:28.962 1:28.945
07 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A523 1:29.707 1:29.255 1:29.078
08 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1:29.689 1:29.374 1:29.223
09 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:29.706 1:29.378 1:29.243
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault A523 1:29.890 1:29.411 1:29.357
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
11 Nico Hülkenberg Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:29.547 1:29.451
12 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:29.654 1:29.461
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:29.744 1:29.517
14 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:29.929 1:29.668
15 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:28.761 1:49.953
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:29.939
17 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW45 1:29.994
18 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:30.244
19 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:30.447
20 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes FW45 2:08.510

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