First Saudi Arabia pole position for Verstappen

The reigning champion will be joined on the front row by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403080481 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen will start from pole position at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix for the first time after setting the fastets time in qualifying.

The reigning champion will be joined on the front row of the grid by Charles Leclerc, with Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso making up the second row.

Having been given just a couple of hours notice that he’d be racing this weekend, Oliver Bearman took to the track for Ferrari, replacing Carlos Sainz while the Spaniard undergoes surgery after developing appendicitis.

There was early concern for Oscar Piastri, as the McLaren driver had a brush with the wall, but despite the contact he managed to avoid contact.

Guanyu Zhou spent most of Q1 in the garage after a heavy hit in FP3 left the Sauber mechanics with a lot of damage to repair. They did manage to get the car on track, but the Chinese driver couldn’t finish his outlap in time for set a laptime.

There was a brief pause in Q2 when Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas ground to a halt early in his flying lap, leaving him unable to set a time.

Bearman pushed hard as he looked for a spot in the top 10, but the 18-year-old had to settle for 11th, just 0.03s off a spot in Q3.

Verstappen set the early pace in the shootout for pole, and despite the best efforts of Leclerc and Perez, neither could match the Dutchman’s time, before he improved with his second flying lap.

Alonso tried to make the most of a tow behind Lewis Hamilton to try to challenge for a place on the front row, but he came up just short.

Provisional qualifying result:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

4. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)

5. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

6. Lando Norris (McLaren)

7. George Russell (Mercedes)

8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

9. Yuki Tsunoda (VCARB)

10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

11. Oliver Bearman (Ferrari)

12. Alex Albon (Williams)

13. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

14. Daniel Ricciardo (VCARB)

15. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)

16. Valtteri Bottas (Sauber)

17. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

18. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

19. Logan Sargeant (Williams)

20. Guanyu Zhou (Sauber)

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