The grid is set for the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP, where a certain Max Verstappen is expected to cut through the pack.
After Verstappen had topped all three practice sessions at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit and continued that dominance into the opening stage of qualifying, it seemed like the narrative was set on the way to a Verstappen pole.
But that is not how it ultimately played out, as a driveshaft failure midway through Q2 would spell the end for Verstappen’s session and his involvement in qualifying.
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That then leaves Verstappen starting down in P15, while his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez claimed pole and will be looking to outrun the Dutchman who, with such a pace advantage, may well put Perez under pressure for the race win without any further hold-ups.
Looking to progress through the pack also will be Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari driver having dropped from P2 to P12 due to an engine penalty, having ended qualifying a tenth down on Perez.
Their progress though may not be completely straightforward with Aston Martin, Mercedes and Alpine ahead, as well as Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari all set to provide stern competition in the top 10.
That is the area of the timing screens where McLaren’s Oscar Piastri will be desperate to remain, having surprised himself by making it into Q3 for the first time in his career.
There is work to do for his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris though, who dropped out in Q1 after breaking the left steering arm on his MCL60 after hitting the inside wall at the final turn.
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Another driver who does not have positive momentum going into the race is Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who set to start P7 after qualifying almost four-tenths slower than team-mate George Russell, spoke of a “miserable” feeling at the wheel of the Mercedes W14, a car which he simply cannot “connect” with.
Points of course are very likely for Hamilton if he has a clean race, but a podium certainly looks out of reach, an achievement which Russell will hope to pull off from P3 on the grid, behind Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso who would love nothing more than to make it back-to-back podiums in Aston Martin green.
So, let’s take a look at the grid in full for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix:
1. Sergio Perez, Red Bull
2. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
3. George Russell, Mercedes
4. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
5. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
6. Esteban Ocon, Alpine
7. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
8. Oscar Piastri, McLaren
9. Pierre Gasly, Alpine
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Haas
11. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo
12. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas
14. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
15. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
16. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
17. Alex Albon, Williams
18. Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri
19. Lando Norris, McLaren
20. Logan Sargeant, Williams