Sergio Perez on Saudi Arabia pole
March 26 2022 , 11:11 pm
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to take his first Formula 1 pole position at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to third.
Haas driver Mick Schumacher was taken to hospital after a high-speed accident, although initial indications were that the German was uninjured.
And Lewis Hamilton had his worst competitive showing in qualifying since 2009 in managing only 16th place.
Perez’s pole was unexpected to say the least. He is not known as a great qualifier, he beat Verstappen only once in their first season together last year and this achievement came in his 220th grand prix.
But it was well deserved. He had looked closer than usual to Verstappen throughout the weekend but put in what he called the lap of his life to beat Leclerc at the very end of qualifying.
“I could do another 1,000 laps and I could never beat this lap time,” Perez said.
The Mexican was 0.261 seconds quicker than world champion team-mate Verstappen, who was down in fourth.
Perez beat Leclerc by 0.225secs, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz third, 0.177secs behind his team-mate.
Mercedes driver George Russell was sixth as team-mate Lewis Hamilton could manage only 16th.
Leclerc himself had saved his best for last – he improved by more than 0.2secs on his final run to leapfrog himself ahead of Sainz, who had taken provisional pole with his first lap.
“The lap felt good,” Leclerc said. “I was very happy with the lap. In the second lap, I just went for it. I definitely did not expect that lap time from Checo and he did an incredible job today.”
It sets up an intriguing race, with the Ferraris sandwiched between the Red Bulls at the start, following Leclerc’s win in the season-opener in Bahrain last weekend, where Red Bull suffered an agonising late double retirement.
And it came at the end of a crash-strewn session in which there were two red flags, the second one for a massive crash involving Schumacher which caused a stoppage of nearly an hour.