A stupendous pole from Verstappen

From the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea, the outcome of qualifying remains the same with Max Verstappen once again securing pole position. Whereas, a week ago in Sakhir, Charles Leclerc actually set the fastest lap of the whole qualifying, in Jeddah, the three-time world champion was quickest in all three parts of the session, his best time of 1’27”472 being around eight tenths under the time that was good enough for Sergio Perez to head the field here last year. Alongside him on the front row will be Charles Leclerc (1’27”791) who, in a battle fought out to the nearest thousandths, got the better of Perez (1’27”807) and Fernando Alonso (1’27”846).

This was Verstappen’s first pole in Jeddah, the 34th of his career, which puts him fifth on the all-time list for this discipline, just ahead of Jim Clark (33).


It was a straightforward day in terms of tyre usage, with teams and drivers running the usual programmes during the third free practice session and qualifying. In the final grid-deciding session, the Soft was clearly the preferred choice, the only exception coming from the two Mercedes drivers who did their first run on Mediums. It was notable that the C4 still delivered very good performance on a second timed lap, as can be seen for example from Verstappen’s best time in Q2, set on used Softs. In FP3, five teams (Red Bull, Mercedes, Alpine, Williams and Haas) only used the Soft. Aston Martin and McLaren used all three compounds, but in the case of the Hard, their drivers simply scrubbed them on for a lap.

The Pirelli Pole Position Award was presented to Max Verstappen by Gianluigi Buffon, one of the greatest goalkeepers in world football. Buffon won the 2006 World Cup with Italy and has won the Italian championship ten times, all of them with Juventus, as well as a French title with Paris St. Germain. His palmares also features a UEFA Cup, six Coppa Italia and seven Supercoppe Italiane.


“Yet again in qualifying we witnessed the great talent that is Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver was quickest in all parts of the session, beating his rivals by a significant margin. Once more, it was very close behind him with very small gaps covering the front two rows of the grid. It’s worth pointing out how much faster these cars are getting, on the same tyres and with almost unchanged regulations compared to last season, today’s pole time was almost eight tenths faster than last year’s.

“What can we expect from tomorrow’s race? It’s difficult to see any surprises in terms of strategy. Here, the one-stop is almost obligatory. The only unknown might be what compound to run alongside the C2, which contrary to what we saw in Sakhir last week, is working very well both in terms of performance and degradation. On paper, the quickest strategy is to use the C3 at the start before switching to the C2 between lap 18 and 25. Starting on the Hard before pitting between laps 25 and 32 to take on Softs could also be a competitive strategy, possibly in the hope of a Safety Car, which is highly likely on a track like this, or maybe do the opposite and use the extra grip from the C4 for the start and the first few laps before switching to the C2.”


The Sprint race win went to Norway’s Dennis Hauger (MP Motorsport) in a race with several neutralisations. He was joined on the podium by the Estonian Paul Aron (Hitech) and Brazil’s Enzo Fittipaldi (Van Amersfoot). All the drivers ran the Medium compound, but it was not possible to assess its performance over a long run precisely because of the many appearances of the Safety Car. It is therefore harder to predict what could be the best strategy for tomorrow’s Feature Race. The Supersoft, the other compound brought here, usually suffers from quite high degradation, so the drivers will try to minimise its use, maybe planning to benefit from its extra grip for the start and the opening laps. Oliver Bearman (Prema), who secured pole on Thursday evening, did not take part in the Sprint nor will he be on the grid tomorrow, as the Englishman is having an unforgettable weekend, making an impromptu Grand Prix debut at the wheel of a Ferrari.


Doriane Pin won the first race of the F1 Academy season. After securing pole yesterday, the French Mercedes driver took the win leading from the start to the finish, 12 laps later. Also on the podium were Abbie Pulling (Alpine) and Maya Weug (Ferrari). The second race takes place tomorrow, when once again Pin will start from pole position.


Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 117 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.