A defect throws back Verstappen, pole position for Sergio Pérez

The Dutchman stopped with his Red Bull in Jeddah in the second qualifying session. His teammate pointed up.

World champion Max Verstappen is the outstanding driver with his Red Bull again in 2023. He won the opener in Bahrain in a superior manner and looked untouchable in the three training sessions in Jeddah. But at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday (18:00 CET/live ORF1, Sky) the 25-year-old will only start from 15th place. The Red Bull driver was on his way to a best time when he suddenly slowed down, rolled his car back into the pits and got out.

A mechanical problem had stopped Verstappen, the drive shaft was broken, Red Bull confirmed a few minutes later.

In the absence of the big favorite, Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez set the best time. The Mexican will start from pole position on Sunday.

Next to him is Fernando Alonso, who was much celebrated on Saturday, with his Aston Martin. Row two is occupied by Russell (Mercedes) and Sainz Jr. (Ferrari).

Ferrari star Charles Leclerc only starts from 12th place. Since the electronic control on his car had been changed for the third time, the 25-year-old was moved ten places down the grid.

With this starting position, Leclerc definitely does not need one thing: rumors of a possible team change. Ferrari is uneasy after the poor start to the season in Bahrain. Leclerc is said to have requested a meeting with Ferrari chairman John Elkann to claim a winning car. Only then would he stay with the team in the long term.

The fact that Lewis Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes expires at the end of 2023 gives cause for speculation. If the seven-time world champion does not extend, Leclerc would be a possible person with the Silver Arrows, although his Ferrari contract runs until the end of 2024.

“It’s all made up,” Leclerc said in Jeddah. “90 percent of the rumors about the team are not true. I will not waste my energy worrying about it.”

By Editor

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