Formula 1: Sergio Perez claimed his first ever pole during Saudi Arabian GP qualifying.© AFP
Sergio Perez claimed his first ever Formula One pole at the 215th attempt when the Mexican upstaged Red Bull teammate and world champion Max Verstappen in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Saturday. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc joins Perez on the front row with Verstappen on the second row after qualifying in fourth behind the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz. Saturday’s qualifying was marred by a horror crash suffered by Mick Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton’s shock elimination in the opening Q1 session for the first time since 2017.
It was a dramatic session coming just hours after it was confirmed the weekend would go ahead following lengthy talks overnight about racing in the aftermath of Friday’s missile strike by Yemen’s Huthi rebels on the nearby Aramco fuel plant.
“It took me a couple of races! But what a lap man, it was unbelievable!” said Perez, the first Mexican to head an F1 grid.
Red Bull will now be hoping for better luck in Sunday’s race than in the season-opener in Bahrain last week when both their cars failed to finish in a race won by Leclerc.
Leclerc, who looked set to confirm his early season pace with pole before Perez produced a flying last lap, said: “I didn’t expect Checo (Perez) to come with that lap time so congratulations to him.”
In Q2, Schumacher was the victim of a high speed crash after his Haas car bounced off the Jeddah street circuit barrier at around 240kph after clipping a kerb.
The 23-year-old son of German F1 legend Michael Schumacher was lifted out of the wreckage of his stricken car and into an ambulance by medics
Haas reported that Schumacher appeared “physically fine” and had spoken to his mother, Corrina.
The Q2 session did not feature Hamilton for the first time in five years.
Mercedes’ seven-time world champion has 103 poles to his name, but in a major upset will start Sunday’s race from towards the rear of the grid after posting only the 16th quickest time in Q1.
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