RACE DEBRIEF

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was looking on course for a crucial pole position at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, only for a final corner error to spoil all his hard work.

    Verstappen had lit up the timing screens on his final flying effort in Q3, going fastest in the first two sectors and narrowly missing the wall as he navigated the tight Jeddah Corniche Circuit – with the Dutchman indicated at being over two-tenths up on title rival Lewis Hamilton with two-thirds of the lap complete.

    But understeer in the final corner forced Verstappen to correct, the Dutchman sliding heavily into the wall as he lit up the tyres, forcing him to park up his Red Bull RB16B on the pit straight – with Verstappen having to settle for P3 on the grid (assuming Red Bull don’t need to change any parts on his car) behind the Mercedes of pole-sitting Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

    READ MORE: Hamilton snatches pole as Verstappen crashes in thrilling Saudi Arabian GP qualifying

    And unsurprisingly, it was a downbeat Verstappen who faced the media after qualifying.

    “It’s of course terrible,” said Verstappen. “But it was in general a good qualifying. I mean it was a bit hard to switch on the tyres around here on this street circuit but I knew the pace was there and it showed in the last lap.

    “I don’t really understand what happened. I locked up, but I still tried to keep the car on the track, tried to finish the lap, but I clipped the rear and had to stop. P3 is a bit disappointing knowing what lap I was on. But nevertheless, it shows that the car is quick and let’s see what we can do in the race.”

    Asked, meanwhile, if he thought he’d suffered extensive damage in the crash: “I don’t know. I mean, I immediately stopped, so let’s see.”

    Max Verstappen: 'Everything seemed to be coming together up until the last corner'

    Adding to Red Bull’s troubles, Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez could only take P5 on the grid, the Mexican beaten by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in P4 – with Perez saying afterwards: “Tricky. [Qualifying was] dominated by the tyres basically. We did really struggle with that in the end. The approach that we had for Q3 probably wasn’t ideal, I couldn’t match my Q2 lap time on the medium and not an ideal result.

    “But the race is going to be so long tomorrow, and so much to play for tomorrow I feel, so anything can happen.”

    It wasn’t the ideal Saturday for Red Bull, as Verstappen looks to try and secure his maiden title this weekend – while Red Bull try and close down the five-point gap to Mercedes in the constructors’.

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