What the teams said - Qualifying in Saudi Arabia
The Bulls looked quick all weekend long, with Verstappen mixing it with the Ferrari pair in what looked like a three-way fight for pole. But cometh the hour, cometh the unlikely candidate for pole. Perez hasn’t started P1 in his 11-year career, but he produced a sublime lap when it mattered to beat Leclerc, despite only having time for one warm-up lap. As for the Dutchman, he was a disappointed fourth, as he struggled to get his tyres up to temperature on both runs in Q3.
Sergio Perez, 1st, 1:28.200
“Today was very special to me, I achieved the best lap of my life. I feel like I could do another thousand laps and there is no chance I can get the same lap, with the amount of perfection and risk. This is probably the most difficult track for qualifying all season, you know if you’re on pole here then you nailed the lap. You have to be very precise, you must take all the risks and the risk to reward is extremely high but the positions you have to take around this place to get the perfect lap are so hard. We came to Jeddah from a very difficult weekend in Bahrain and the Team have been pushing so hard out here and back in Milton Keynes, so I am extremely happy for them all. If anything, we were focusing more on the race pace so we felt Ferrari had the upper hand on us in qualifying. We will see if we have the pace to beat them in the race tomorrow. I need a good start and then I will try to control the race from there, it is going to be difficult because the Ferraris are quick and Max will be in the mix too. We have a long race ahead of us but I am confident we can come out on top again.”
Max Verstappen, 4th, 1:28.461
“Checo did a great job today, he put the car on pole and I’m really happy for him! From my side, qualifying didn’t go the way I had hoped, in Q1 and Q2 everything felt normal but in Q3 the grip was terrible, I couldn’t extract what I needed to from the tyres and I was just sliding everywhere. In the faster corners I couldn’t push as hard as I would have liked and when you don’t feel comfortable on a street circuit you cannot attack the corners. Of course I’m not happy with fourth and we’ll analyse what happened but we have a competitive car and we have a lot to fight for tomorrow as a Team. I am looking forward to it, hopefully we can have a good race.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“I am just so pleased for Checo, it is 11 years tomorrow after his F1 debut and 215 starts is simply incredible, he’s working harder than ever and that lap was fantastic. The Ferraris put down such a competitive marker and for Checo to put in a lap like that at this circuit was unbelievable. Max struggled with grip in Q3 and could not attack the corners as much as he wanted, but starting from fourth he’s still very much in contention. Ferrari are impressive and their car is so competitive, they started early on this project last year, so for us to have Checo on pole and Max up there on the second row in race two, after such an enormous effort last season, is a real testament to the hard work of the entire team.”
They were quick in Bahrain, and they certainly picked up where they left off this weekend. Sainz interestingly could only extract grip from used soft tyres, opting to run an older set at the start of Q3 where he put his Ferrari on provisional pole from his team mate. But second time around on new rubber, it was Leclerc who improved to jump ahead of the Spaniard, who just couldn’t extract any pace when on fresh rubber. But both were pipped at the last by Perez, and made to settle for second and third on the grid.
Charles Leclerc, 2nd, 1:28.225
"It is disappointing to miss pole position today because I know that I put in a great lap. The risk Checo (Perez) took in the last sector paid off and his lap was exceptional. Congratulations to him for a job well done.
"On our side, there is plenty to learn from this qualifying. We were quicker on used tyres than we were on new ones and we have to understand why that was, so that we can put them in a better window next time.
"We were quick in our race simulation this morning and I feel confident for tomorrow. A race in warm conditions, taking place at night, on a very fast and narrow street circuit – it should be an exciting one."
Carlos Sainz, 3rd, 1:28.402
"It was a good quali overall, putting good laps together every time we went out. Interestingly enough, I’ve been fast and more comfortable on a used set of softs than on the new set, so maybe I should have also done my second push on Q3 on used tyres. We’ll look into that for sure. In any case, the feeling with the car has been better so far this weekend and we’ll keep digging into the data to extract the maximum out of the car.
"Now we have to focus on tomorrow. Of course, the target will be to bring the pace of today’s quali into the race. We have saved several sets to give us different strategic options in case the race gets tricky as it did last year, so we’ll try to make everything work. Let’s race."
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
"The most important thing today is that Mick is okay after his terrible accident. As for qualifying, our gap to pole is really small, a few thousandths, so I think being fastest was within reach today, but never mind, because starting second and third is still a great result and even more important is the fact we are competitive. We proved to be quick on a track with different characteristics to the previous ones, which is what we wanted to see.
"Everything could happen in tomorrow’s race – safety cars, red flags – therefore it will be important not to make any mistakes on the pit wall and to try and make the most of every opportunity and react quickly to whatever situations arise. To sum up, we need to be quick to react, keep on our toes and concentrate."
Mission accomplished – both cars into Q3 this weekend, a step up on last Saturday. It got even better than that, with Ocon grabbing that ‘best of the rest’ slot and Alonso not too far behind in what was an incredibly tight midfield. Barely a tenth separated Ocon in fifth to Bottas down in eighth, and the Frenchman had more than one reason to be cheerful with replays showing he managed to keep his squirming car out of the barriers in a moment of extreme car handling.
Esteban Ocon, 5th, 1:29.068
“First of all, the most important thing is that Mick is OK. That was a big shunt, and I am glad to see that everything seems to be fine with him. On our side, the car felt good and it’s good to see that we are quick around this track. It’s a very fast circuit, very technical and you do have to take some risks. I almost put it in the wall in Q3 but managed to just save it. It’s only the second race with this new car and to qualify in fifth and seventh is great and we should be very happy about today. We’ve built up well all weekend and I am happy how the car has improved during all the practice sessions. We’re in the mix to fight for a solid result tomorrow.”
Fernando Alonso, 7th, 1:29.147
“It felt good to be in Q3 in Bahrain and now we arrive at a completely different circuit in qualifying trim, and we have both cars in Q3, so it’s a good sign for the team. The car has definitely felt competitive all weekend. With these 2022 cars we keep learning every single time we leave the garage and I think there is still more potential for us to develop. The tyre degradation is still a little bit unknown for tomorrow and now we don’t have to use the tyres we qualified on in Q2, so it gives us more flexibility on strategy. Let’s see what we can do in the race and hopefully we can take a lot of points from it.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal
“We’re delighted with today’s Qualifying result with brilliant laps from Esteban and Fernando to put us well inside the top ten for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. We knew from the beginning of the weekend we had the pace to be very competitive, so to see the hard work from everyone at the team pay off is excellent. Only half of the job is complete, though, and points are only given out on Sundays. We’ve put ourselves in a great position to have a strong race and we’re looking forward to developing our strategy overnight to ensure both cars are very well placed and prepared to score points. We also wish Mick [Schumacher] well after a quite frightening crash during the session. We hope Mick recovers quickly and is in a position to race again soon.”
A proper mixed bag at Mercedes tonight, Hamilton unable to extract any pace from his set up on either the medium or the soft compound tyres. He fought his way round the track, sliding through the corners but wound up exiting at the first time of asking – the first time that had happened since Brazil 2017. A disconsolate figure afterwards, he confessed that he may well change his set up before the race and take a pit lane start. As for Russell, he was much more comfortable although he only just made the top 10 by the skin of his teeth. Starting sixth seems par for the W13, and at least puts one car in the mix for points.
Lewis Hamilton, 16th, 1:30.343
"I hope Mick is OK, that corner is 170mph and it’s terrifying to see what’s happened - that’s the biggest crash we’ve seen at this track. For me, I struggled with the balance of the car today, the rear end was snapping out and this isn’t where we want to be. We went the wrong way with the set up tonight and the car just wasn’t underneath me for this session. It’s strange because the car was feeling good in FP3 but in qualifying, it was difficult to drive all of a sudden and felt nervous. Everyone is working as hard as they can and trying to stay positive. I’ll try my best tomorrow and see what we can do."
George Russell, 6th, 1:29.104
"We are one team, and as a team it was not a good day. We don’t have a handle on the car at the moment, it’s been inconsistent and we’re fighting to get it into this very small window. On our side of the garage, we managed to get it just inside that window - I don’t really know why or how - and unfortunately on Lewis’s side they didn’t manage to. When that happens on a circuit like this on a knife-edge, you just don’t have the confidence to push it to the limit. As a team, we’re not here to fight for P5 / P6, we want more and we were nine tenths behind Checo today, so we’ve got work to do.
"We know what our issue is and everyone’s working day and night trying to solve it. We know there’s so much lap time on the table, we just can’t tap into it. We will get there, I’ve no doubt. But we’ve got to be patient. We can be grateful that we’ve got such a serious issue, but we are still the third fastest team and that offers so much optimism. If we are still the third fastest and we have so many issues, when we solve them, we should be in a really good spot."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"That’s the second race of the season and another confirmation that we are not where we want to be, and need to be. On Lewis’s side we experimented with a setup that was worse, and the consequence was there was no rear grip and the car became undrivable. For George, I think today was a good effort considering we only had one soft tyre for Q3, so a solid job from him. Nevertheless, the optimum scenario for us today was the no-man’s-land between the Red Bull and Alpine, and that’s certainly not acceptable."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"We know we aren’t quick enough at the moment and Lewis exiting in Q1 is just a symptom of that. We struggled here on single lap pace, it was more of a challenge than Bahrain and we weren’t fast enough in Bahrain. However, the car did look better in race spec yesterday than on single runs, so we’re hopeful we’ll have a better package tomorrow. We know the races here don’t normally run to plan so there’s lots of opportunity to move forward and we’ll no doubt gain some useful knowledge along the way. George drove strong sessions and didn’t leave much in the car today.
"The porpoising is priority number one because it’s preventing us from running the car where we want it. We’ve got some avenues which are giving us good direction but it’s taking us time to get those as parts on the car. We’re leaving no stone unturned and every day we run, we’re learning."
It was a solid qualifying for Alfa, Bottas making the top 10 shootout for the second weekend running. Once there he was just pipped by the Alpine pair and Russell in the midfield battle, although there was nothing in it between those four cars in terms of time. As for Zhou, he was 13th and is already showing good signs of progress, especially considering he didn’t have any experience at this track.
Valtteri Bottas, 8th, 1:29.183
“I am pleased to be in Q3, especially with our performance: we were very consistent, made good progress in each session and got a good spot on the grid for the race. The main thing today, though, is that Mick is ok after the heavy shunt. We hope to see him back in a race car as soon as possible. Coming into the weekend, we weren’t sure whether the track layout would suit us, so to have a solid qualifying as a team is positive. I was perhaps hoping to be a couple of places higher, but everyone was so close: we stuck to our plan, which was to only use one set of tyres for Q3, and by the end there was nothing left. Still, we delivered some good laps and I feel we are definitely in the fight that will be outside the top two teams. We can take the challenge to everyone around us tomorrow and I am looking forward to what will be an interesting race. We need a good start – we have been working a lot on them here and they feel better already – we need to keep position on lap one and then take any opportunity that may come from there on.”
Zhou Guanyu, 13th, 1:29.819
“Before I look at my performance, I am relieved to see both Nicholas and Mick being fine after their crashes: this is the most important thing. I am very happy with my performance this evening, especially as my expectations coming here were quite conservative: this is a relatively new track for me, it’s so quick and it was the first time I drove an F1 car on a street circuit, so to go to Q2 and have a realistic shot at Q3 is a very positive feeling. I improved from session to session throughout the weekend and that’s the important thing: the red flag in Q2 compromised our plans and, in the end, I was left with one set of tyres, but I am happy with 13th. This is a challenging track, you need to push to the limit and you’re on a very thin edge between a great lap and a mistake: to have a clean qualifying session here as a rookie is really good, and to be closer to my team-mate and the top guys is even better. As for tomorrow, let’s see: the race could be chaotic, if last year’s is anything to go by. I’ll need to keep out of trouble and see how much progress I can make, but I think points are realistic.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“First and foremost, the important news from the evening are about Mick Schumacher being ok after a very big accident. Full credit to the FIA for making these the safest cars in F1 history. As for us, we delivered a good performance that confirms our Bahrain result was not a fluke: both Valtteri and Zhou did well and we can see progress already compared to last week, which means we can expect to be in the fight to bring home points with both cars tomorrow. It’s going to be a long race and we’ve seen tonight that this track doesn’t forgive any mistake: there are a lot of challenges, but also a lot of potential opportunities to take and it will be up to us to bring home a good result.”
Gasly stopped in the pit lane in FP3, as AlphaTauri again struggled for reliability. After a brief workout where he had to push his own car back, the Frenchman at least made it through qualifying without any major issues. He wound up in Q3 once again, although whether he will see the chequered flag this time around remains to be seen. But Tsunoda wasn’t so fortunate – his reliability woes coming in Q1 when he was called back to the pits without setting a time. He managed points last time from P16 on the grid – what can he do from P20?
Pierre Gasly, 9th, 1:29.254
“I’m really happy to make it through to Q3 again today. It wasn’t that easy, as we suffered some damage to the floor during Q1, we managed to tape this during the session and get through to the top 10, but we’ll need to go away to analyse the data and see how much this impacted our performance. It was a really tight Quali today, with only a few tenths separating P5-P10, so I’m pleased with where we are. We’ll fight for everything we can tomorrow but it’s going to be a long race and considering the tyre degradation we’ve already seen in the practice session I think there will be a lot of different strategies tomorrow; we’ll be working hard tonight to decide what will work best for us.”
Yuki Tsunoda, 20th, No time set
“It’s been a disappointing day, with the issue in Qualifying meaning we couldn’t set a time. I didn’t feel anything in the car, but the team told me there was a problem and I had to come in. It’s such a shame I wasn’t able to run, as I was feeling quite confident in the car this weekend and our aim was to get through to Q3. It won’t be as easy to overtake here as it was in Bahrain, with most corners being high-speed, but I’ll try my best to make my way forward.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“Although we have been reasonably quick here in every session, we have not had a very smooth event so far with both drivers. This has meant the progress has been very disjointed on both sides of the garage and the workload has been higher than ideal. Frustratingly for everyone, Yuki had a suspected water system issue during Q1, meaning he was unable to capitalise on the good form he has shown so far here. Pierre suffered a disrupted FP3 but recovered well and navigated Q1 without any fuss. In Q2, when the session resumed, he put in a very clean lap, allowing him to progress to Q3 without too much trouble. The Q3 strategy was based around two runs, but unfortunately the second run was not perfect, and we have ended up P9 in what was a very tight Qualifying battle for fifth to 10th. In summary, although the AT03 has shown some reasonable pace so far in this event, as a team we have not managed to maximise the grid position with one car, so achieving this remains a key point to address for the next event. The focus now shifts to the race and the strategy group are flat out preparing for tomorrow’s race, seeing how we can try to get both drivers moving forward.”
Schumacher gave everyone a scare when he crashed heavily in Q2, bringing out the red flags. It was later confirmed that the German was okay, although he has bee taken to hospital for further checks. He ended up 14th on the leaderboard, but it has been confirmed he will not race tomorrow. Magnussen was left to fly the flag for the team which he did with aplomb, making Q3 once again. It was all the more remarkable considering reliability problems limited him to just 15 laps yesterday, and the fact that he doesn’t know this track at all.
Kevin Magnussen, 10th, 1:29.588
“I’ve heard Mick is uninjured which is good and incredible when you see the crash that he had, but the safety is so good with these cars with the fact that you can walk away from a crash like that, it’s impressive. I think he was having a great qualifying session up until that point and he was up for a good result, so he’ll just need to come back and get on the horse and bounce back. We have to be happy with Q3, but the car was better than P10, I didn’t get the most out of it. Honestly my neck just completely broke in Q3 – suddenly it snapped, and I couldn’t hold it. I wasn’t driving well, I think maybe there was a P5 in the car, there’s only half a second up to P5 and my best lap in Q3 was on used tyres – and not a great lap as I said. The team had a P5 in it, but I didn’t.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“A very eventful day for us. The best thing is that Mick has apparently no injuries, he’s in the hospital right now and being evaluated by the doctors, so he is in good hands at the moment. There is a possibility that he’ll have to stay for observation overnight at the hospital. Based on these facts and where we are, we have decided not to field his car tomorrow. Kevin, having not done a lot of practice yesterday, I think he did a fantastic job today getting into Q3. His last run was not as planned but I think that was down to not having enough time on track. We’re still happy with Q3 and P10 tomorrow.”
Progress for McLaren, who got both cars into Q2 in Saudi Arabia. But they could go no further, although Norris mised out on the top 10 by the merest of margins. P11 and P12 weren't bad starting slots on paper and should have put the papaya cars more in the mix than last weekend, but then came the news that Ricciardo was being penalised three grid places for impeding Ocon during qualifying. That drops the Aussie well down the field, and makes his evening that bit harder.
Daniel Ricciardo, 12th, 1:29.773
“We can be more positive with this result as a team. A week ago we weren’t in this competitive position, fighting for Q3. Both cars were about a tenth off. I think it’s been a smoother weekend for us, so hopefully tomorrow we can execute a good strategy and try to get into the top 10.
“It’s good to hear that Mick is OK after a big impact. We’re wishing him a quick recovery and look forward to seeing him back.”
Lando Norris, 11th, 1:29.651
“Today was much better. There are more positives to take since Bahrain and, realistically, we should have been into Q3. There were few areas where we could have been quicker, which cost us getting into Q3. There was a lot of traffic and people doing warm-up laps, which made it difficult to put a clean lap together, but I also made a mistake. We had a better day today, and I think we can aim for some points tomorrow.”
“Finally, it was good to see that Mick was okay, we’re wishing him well and a speedy recovery.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“The most important thing after this qualifying session is confirmation that Mick Schumacher is doing well after that heavy impact. We send him our best wishes and hope to see him back in the car tomorrow.
“P11 and P12 in qualifying represents a good step forward for us, compared to our qualifying result one week ago in Bahrain. Our package is a little better suited to the track layout here in Jeddah – but we’ve also had a much smoother weekend.
“Our aim tomorrow is simple: put up a good fight and score our first points of the season. It’s going to be a long and challenging race – a lot can happen at this circuit, and hopefully that will present opportunities for us. Thanks to the team, here in Jeddah and back at the factory, to our drivers, and our colleagues at Mercedes HPP for a lot of hard work over the past week. Let’s go racing.”
Not to be for Hulkenberg at a new track for the German, super-sub falling at the first time of asking. But Stroll did markedly better than last week, making it to Q2. Once there, the disrupted segment didn’t help the Canadian, who struggled for tyre warm up when the session did eventually get back under way. The quest for some first points of the year looks a tricky one based on those starting slots.
Nico Hulkenberg, 18th, 1:30.543
“I think qualifying could have gone a little bit better – I made mistakes in Turns 1 and 13, which probably cost me three-tenths and it did not help my push to make Q2. This circuit is so intense and fast, with a lot happening to the car in each corner, and that has been the hardest thing for me to get used to after a spell away from racing. Purely in a physical sense, this could be one of the hardest races of my career, but my goal tomorrow is to keep it clean, make progress, complete the race and provide as much info as possible for the team as we keep developing the car.”
Lance Stroll, 15th, 1:31.009
“The most important thing after qualifying is that it appears that Mick is generally OK after his big accident. It was not easy to sit in the car waiting for things to resume, so it was good to have an update on his condition before we went out again. I think P15 was probably the maximum we could achieve today. The balance of the car is decent, but we just lack that extra bit of grip to jump up the order. Last year it was a really eventful race here, so you would expect similar opportunities tomorrow. We will be ready to react quickly and can hopefully make progress.”
Mike Krack, Team Principal
“Lance and the team did a good job in qualifying today, making it through to Q2. He ended up 15th, which is not what we are aiming for of course but which represents progress compared with our performance in Bahrain just one week ago. Nico was not quite able to progress through to Q2, owing to small mistakes at Turn 1 and 13, but, considering his lack of testing mileage, he did a solid job to bag the 18th-best quali time. He may be able to move up the field to some extent tomorrow.”
Not to be for Williams, Latifi bringing out the red flags early on in Q1 after spinning into the barriers. The Canadian was okay, but that meant he took no further part in qualifying. Albon couldn’t make it out of Q1 either, the Thai driver just not able to extract enough pace from the FW44 under the lights in Jeddah.
Nicholas Latifi, 19th, 1:31.817
“It just seemed like I lost the rear under braking into Turn 13, so we need to look at the data to understand exactly why. It was the first time I became rear limited in that corner all weekend, it caught me by surprise quite a bit.
“I feel really sorry for the team because it was a costly mistake. It’s difficult to say at the moment about tomorrow; the car is feeling a bit better than it did in Bahrain, but we still have a lot of work to do. It will be a long race so we just have to be there.”
Alex Albon, 17th, 1:30.492
“It was a tricky day. I felt we were capable of getting to Q2, but getting the tyres to work, especially at night-time when the temperature drops, becomes a little more difficult. We don’t have a bad car, but the tyres are very sensitive and we just missed the operating window.
“We have a bit of work to do but otherwise, in the race we should have good pace, so we can be positive on that side. Overtaking is going to be tricky but hopefully we have a pace advantage.”
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
“We made some progress overnight with the setup and used the running in FP3 to determine the best run plan for Qualifying. Unfortunately, Nicholas touched the wall at the end of FP3 causing some minor damage to the front wing, which meant that he missed the grid start at the end of the session.
“Alex had a smoother session and confirmed that he was reasonably happy with the car. As we typically see on street circuits, qualifying can be very busy with a range of approaches to tyres and a constant risk of flag interruptions. With the lap being so long here in Jeddah, the run plans get squeezed and there is little slack.
“We had a programme to get both drivers a good shot at the tyre preparation, but this went awry when Nicholas crashed at T13 causing a red flag.
“We will need to inspect the damage tonight and understand what needs replacing before the race tomorrow.
“We moved Alex to a backup strategy and again gave him an opportunity to prepare the tyres, which was getting more difficult in the cooler conditions. He pushed hard and had a clean lap, but we were lacking the pace and the tyre grip to progress. We will now look to tomorrow and see if we can make some places as this is likely to be a race of attrition.”
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director
"Pole was just seven-tenths off last year’s best time here in Jeddah, which is a great achievement in only the second race for these brand new cars. The teams focused on the soft compound from free practice this morning in preparation for using it in qualifying this evening. This also means that the majority of drivers have kept two sets of medium and one set of hard, which probably indicates that they will prefer to use these two compounds. But all the runs today, both in free practice and qualifying, were relatively short, so it's hard to know exactly how the levels of graining have evolved. As a result, the strategy is open tomorrow between a one-stopper and a two-stopper, depending on the actual levels of degradation experienced during the race, which of course depends on a number of different factors. Our best wishes to Mick Schumacher for a speedy recovery after the accident he sustained during qualifying: it’s good to see that the new generation of cars are fast as well as safe."