Verstappen Cruises To Pole Position In Saudi Arabia


Max Verstappen celebrates his Saudi Arabian Grand Prix pole on Friday. (Mark Thompson/Getty Images for Red Bull photo)

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen earned his second straight pole to kick off the Formula One World Championship season Friday ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Verstappen, the three-time defending titlist and early-season point leader, lapped the 3.836-mile Jeddah Corniche Circuit in 1:27.472 with his RB20, earning top honors by three tenths of a second.

The Dutchman’s 34th pole in 187 F-1 races broke a tie with Jim Clark and Alain Prost for fifth all-time.

“It was a very good day so far. We improved the car a little bit overnight and that gave me a bit more confidence to attack the high-speed corners,” said Verstappen of his qualifying run. “Around here, it all depends a lot on your confidence and how much you can go to the limit [with the race car].

“I really think, today, I felt comfortable with the car,” he added. “Throughout qualifying, it’s pretty crazy how fast you go around here. My first lap in Q3, I was very happy with how I did the lap.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will join Verstappen on the front row after a Q3 time of 1:27.791, with Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso sharing row two.

The McLaren duo of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris line up fifth and sixth, respectively, with Mercedes AMG Petronas’ George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, Visa CashApp RB’s Yuki Tsunoda, and the second Aston Martin of Lance Stroll filling out the first five rows of the grid.

Eighteen-year-old rookie Ollie Bearman, called into action from his reserve driver role after Carlos Sainz fell ill with appendicitis, nearly made the final knockout round with a time of 1:28.642 in Q2.

Bearman missed the transfer cutoff by .064 of a second and starts 11th for Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

American Logan Sargeant endured a disappointing qualifying day for Williams Racing, lining up 19th after being eliminated in Q1.

Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is slated to start at noon ET, with live coverage in the United States available on ESPN2.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.