Qualifying for the Saudi Arabian GP brought the expected spectacle. Sergio Perez surprisingly raced to his first pole position in front of the two Ferraris. Mick Schumacher had to be flown to the hospital after a high-speed crash.
Jeddah's fast street circuit is always good for action. Even at the premiere last year, the sessions had to be regularly interrupted due to incidents. And this time not all drivers made it through qualifying on Saturday evening (March 26) unscathed.
Nicholas Latifi started in the first knockout round. The Canadian had lost the rear of his Williams on the approach to Turn 13. Luckily, the driver caught one of the few run-off zones where the car was able to lose some speed. The impact was also dampened by TecPro boards. After a brief interruption, the session continued.
Schumacher's high-speed crash
Mick Schumacher wasn't that lucky in the second half. The drama started with a small driving error in turn 9. As a result, the German went a little too far out onto the curb a little later in turn 12. The counter-commuter at around 250 km/h threw the Haas completely off track. Schumi hit the side of the unprotected concrete wall.
The car was completely destroyed by the impact and continued to slide about 100 meters. The radio connection was cut off immediately, which is why it was initially not clear how the pilot was doing. The medical car and an ambulance quickly arrived at the scene of the accident and were able to rescue Schumacher unharmed from the wreck.
The youngster insisted on calling his mother at home in Switzerland. The TV pictures also showed how he then relaxed in the medical center, sitting on the stretcher, talking to employees. To be on the safe side, the doctors let the Haas pilot fly the rescue helicopter to a nearby hospital for further examinations.
However, starting the race on Sunday is more than questionable. Even if Schumacher gets the go-ahead, Haas would have to rebuild the car first. Spare parts are scarce at this stage of the season. "Maybe we'd rather examine everything first and then prepare the car thoroughly for Melbourne," explained team manager Guenther Steiner.
Hamilton flop, Perez top
Because the accident also spilled liquids that had to be washed out of the asphalt with special machines, the Q2 session was interrupted for a total of 57 minutes. Nico Hülkenberg had long since been eliminated in 18th place. And Lewis Hamilton also had to give up surprisingly early in 16th place. "I was wrong with the vote. The balance just wasn't right," apologized the Vice World Champion.
As expected, pole position was fought out in a duel between the Red Bull and the Ferrari. After the first runs in the Q3 finale, the two Scuderia racers were still ahead. But then Sergio Perez managed a real magic round in his last shot. The Mexican secured the first pole position of his career with a time of 1:28.200 minutes – and that on his 215th race weekend.
"I really managed a good lap there. I could still do 1,000 laps, but I probably wouldn't complete this lap," grinned the veteran after his pole debut. Charles Leclerc had to take second place, 25 thousandths behind the Red Bull.
"My lap actually felt pretty good. In qualifying, the main thing was to keep the car on the track. In the last attempt, I gave it my all. It was a bit unexpected that Checo was able to drive even faster," he said Bahrain winner to.
Verstappen only on the second row
Carlos Sainz will start Sunday's Jeddah race from third position. After the first Q3 run, the Spaniard was still in front for a short time: "I was intentionally on used tires. I somehow have a better feeling on them this weekend. The lap was actually quite good. But the others were able to squeeze out a little more. But I'm expecting an exciting race tomorrow."
Max Verstappen shares the second row with Sainz. In the end, the Dutchman surprisingly wasn't able to counter it: "Everything went normally in Q1 and Q2. But with the first set of tires in Q3, I suddenly had no more grip. And then with the second set of tires I lost my rhythm. I had lost confidence "It's the first time something like this has happened to me. We'll have to look at it again. But Checo did a great job. It shows that the potential in the car is there."
Behind the top quartet, Esteban Ocon is the first pursuer in fifth place. The Alpine driver shares the third row with George Russell, who did much better than teammate Hamilton. This is followed by the second Alpine, Fernando Alonso, who will start on the fourth row with Alfa newcomer Valtteri Bottas. Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen complete the top ten.