Sergio Perez claimed a first career pole with a scintillating last-gasp effort in a dramatic and heavily disrupted qualifying session in Saudi Arabia.
The Mexican snatched top spot from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the final seconds, with the pair split by just two-hundredths of a second at the conclusion of a wild session on the streets of Jeddah.
The session had paused for an hour during Q2 after a violent high-speed crash for Haas’ Mick Schumacher, who was extricated to the medical centre – where no injuries where revealed – and later to hosptial for precautionary checks.
Nicholas Latifi had also earlier triggered red flags as he swiped the wall in Q1 – a session that saw Lewis Hamilton make a shock exit in 16th.
Hamilton’s team mate George Russell only just squeezed into Q3, but rallied to eventually claim sixth, fractions behind Alpine’s Esteban Ocon. Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull had to settle for fourth, two-tenths down on his team mate.
Ferrari had appeared early favourites by going fastest in both Q1 and Q2, and then setting the early pace in Q3 – first via Sainz, and then Leclerc. But Perez saved his best for his final run to claim a dream first pole at his 215th attempt – the longest wait in F1 history.
FORMULA 1 STC SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX 2022
|1 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing||1:28.200|
|2 Charles LECLERC Ferrari||1:28.225|
|3 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari||1:28.402|
|4 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||1:28.461|
|5 Esteban OCON Alpine||1:29.068|
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas claimed a share of the fourth row, just ahead of Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen in the lead AlphaTauri and Haas respectively.
McLaren suffered a double exit in Q2, as late gains for Gasly and Magnussen lifted both drivers out of the drop zone – and bumped Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo to a provisional 11th and 12th respectively.
Guanyu Zhou was 13th but starts 12th due to Daniel Ricciardo’s three-place post-session penalty, with Schumacher’s opening effort in Q2 enough for 14th, ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll. Schumacher will not race, thus promoting Stroll to 13th ahead of Ricciardo. Hamilton and the drivers behind are promoted one place apiece too.
It was Stroll who had effectively eliminated Hamilton from Q1 – the Briton had momentarily lifted himself to 15th, only for Stroll to immediately reply and seal Hamilton’s fate.
Joining him as those out of Q1 were the Williams pair of Alex Albon and Latifi, in 17th and 19th respectively. They sandwiched Aston Martin super-sub Nico Hulkenberg – while Yuki Tsunoda was effectively forced to watch from the sidelines as a suspected fuel problem left him unable to register a time.