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Mixed fortunes for Red Bull in Jeddah qualifying


Ahead of today's qualifying session the air temperature is 27 degrees C, while the track temperature is 32 degrees.

If we take it as read that Max has pole well and truly sewn up, the big question is who joins him on the front row, and who fills roes two, three…

Though Sergio has to be a shoo-in, all manner of factors could come into play, not least traffic.

Also, there is the fact that we believe a number of teams have yet to show their hands… possibly including Red Bull.

At Ferrari, Charles starts with the immediate handicap of that 10-place grid penalty, so all hopes lie with Carlos, while, based on the evidence thus far, Fernando and Lance appear to be next in the general order.

However, other than that penalty, the big issue for Ferrari is reliability, which has led to speculation that the Maranello outfit is not using its full power.

Mercedes problems have been well documented, and until the team can get its house in order it has to be a about damage limitation.

The true pace of the alpine is unclear because the two drivers went out earlier than everyone else this morning, but in the great scheme of things we'd say they are next up ahead of McLaren.

However, as we pointed out in our FP3 report, Max aside, the next 16 drivers were covered by a second.

So all in all, and bearing in mind the aforementioned issue of traffic, it's all to play for.

The lights go green and Albon leads teammate Sargeant out on to the track, followed by Tsunoda, the Haas pair and the McLarens.

As Albon begins his first flying lap more and more drivers head out. All on brand new softs.

A spin in Turn 1 for de Vries, who didn't get out in FP3 after his team opted to change his engine.

Albon sets the benchmark with a 30.167. However, his teammate responds with a 29.721.

Having wrecked his tyres de Vries opts to pit.

Hulkenberg goes second, but is demoted after Sargeant's time is deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 27.

Leclerc can only manage second, ahead of Albon, Magnussen and Bottas.

The Bulls begin their first hot laps. Perez crosses the line at 29.261 as Russell goes third (29.994).

Verstappen crosses the line at 28.761 as Hamilton posts a 30.157 to go sixth.

A 30.076 sees Zhou displace Hamilton, as Magnussen goes fourth with a 29.872.

Replay shows that Norris clouted the wall with his front-left and is concerned he has damaged his steering. He pits.

Sainz goes third with a 29.729.

With 07:38 remaining, only the Aston pair have yet to post times.

Russell goes fourth and Hamilton fifth, while Gasly can only manage 17th.

On his first flying lap, Alonso spins at Turn 2.

Next time around the Spaniard goes fourth with a 29.404 while teammate Stroll goes 15th (30.351).

Sargeant is bewildered that his time was deleted. "You can't go off at Turn 27," he argues. He subsequently spins at Turn 23, thereby bringing out the yellow flags.

The American has yet to post a time.

He is joined in the danger zone by Gasly, de Vries, Tsunoda, and Norris, with Ocon, Bottas and Albon hovering.

Both Alpine drivers have their latest times deleted, as does Leclerc, for ignoring the yellows at Turn 23. Hulkenberg and Sainz also.

Norris is not going to get out again following his encounter with the wall.

Ocon improves to seventh with a 29.707, as Gasly goes eleventh.

Alonso improves to third with a 29.298.

Hulkenberg improves to sixth but is demoted when Stroll goes fourth.

Zhou goes ninth and Bottas 14th.

Tsunoda goes 15th while his teammate fails to make the cut.

A 29.706 sees Piastri go 11th, meaning that McLaren has at least one car through to Q2.

Sargeant has stopped on track, and having failed to post a legal time is out. "Argh!, it over, I have to stop," he reports. "Something's broke." Replay shows that he clouted the wall, a la Norris, at Turn 1.

Quickest is Verstappen, ahead of Perez, Alonso, Stroll, Leclerc, Sainz, Hulkenberg, Russell, Zhou and Hamilton.

We lose Tsunoda, Albon, de Vries, Norris and Sargeant.

Zhou leads the way as Q2 gets underway. He is followed by Bottas, Hulkenberg, Magnussen ad Alonso.

Again softs are the order of the day, most are on brand new sets though the Mercedes pair are on used rubber.

Zhou posts a benchmark 30.262, but Alonso responds with a 28.757. Stroll goes second with a 29.250.

Ocon goes third ahead of Piastri, Sainz, , Bottas and Zhou, but all are demoted when Leclerc splits the Aston Martins with a 29.068.

A 29.512 sees Russell go fifth, while his Mercedes teammate goes sixth.

"Oh, big moment," says Verstappen as he experiences a nasty snap.

He subsequently slows. "I have a problem," he reports. "Engine, engine problem."

Worth noting that following yesterday's downshifting issues he took on a new gearbox.

As Verstappen slowly makes his way back to the pits, Perez goes second with a 28.874.

Verstappen climbs from his car, his session over.

With just over 5 minutes remaining, Sainz, Bottas, Zhou and Hulkenberg comprise the drop zone, along with Verstappen. Piastri, Gasly and Hamilton are hovering.

Piastri fails to improve and remains tenth.

Hamilton stops the clock at 29.374 to go fifth.

Interestingly there are no significant improvements, certainly in the opening sector.

Sainz aborts his lap and causes problems for Hulkenberg and Ocon.

Piastri goes seventh while Bottas can only manage eleventh.

Zhou goes eighth and Stroll fourth.

Hulkenberg goes ninth, while a late charge sees Sainz go fourth.

By the skin of his teeth, Gasly goes tenth with a 29.411, thereby demoting Hulkenberg.

Quickest is Perez, ahead o Alonso, Leclerc, Sainz, Stroll, Russell, Ocon, Hamilton, Piastri and Gasly.

We lose Hulkenberg, Zhou, Magnussen, Bottas and, of course, Verstappen.

Red Bull reports that Verstappen suffered a driveshaft failure.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Jeddah here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 19/03/2023 5:25

"Would love to see Alonso take the flag. What a triumph that would be."

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2. Posted by intrepid, 18/03/2023 22:04

"I am astounded and delighted by Fernando's championship form - and in an Aston-Martin! Phenomenal and just as delightful."

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