Verstappen 15th in qualifying after car trouble
JEDDA, Saudi Arabia. Max Verstappen starts 15th on the grid at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after his Red Bull’s driveshaft broke in the second part of qualifying.
The defending champion was the clear favorite for pole position after finishing 0.6 seconds ahead of his closest rival in the last practice session and doubling that lead in the first qualifying session.
But a problem that arose on his first attempt in the second quarter meant he was unable to complete a flying lap in the second session and was therefore classified 15th.
“The car won’t accelerate,” Verstappen said on the command radio shortly after the problem arose.
Verstappen returned the car to the pits, but it immediately became clear that he could not continue.
Verstappen and Red Bull later confirmed that the driveshaft was the problem.
“At turn 10, the driveshaft just broke, so it’s very unfortunate,” Verstappen said after qualifying. “And one more thing that I don’t really understand because we’ve never had a problem with that this year. But it happened, and we will analyze everything and try to understand how it happened.”
Disappointment followed Verstappen’s dominance in the first round of the season in Bahrain, making him the winner ahead of Saudi Arabia.
Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez realized Red Bull’s potential by taking pole position in qualifying.
Fernando Alonso continued Aston Martin’s merry history by securing a spot next to Perez on the front row of the grid. Alonso took the podium after the Red Bulls at the Bahrain Grand Prix and will be confident of another strong result on Sunday night.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc edged out Alonso for second place in qualifying but will drop 10 spots as a penalty for the team taking extra engine components earlier this week, meaning he will join Verstappen in the second half of the grid.
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes starts seventh.