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What the teams said – Qualifying in Saudi Arabia

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Becky Hart
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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB talks with

Red Bull

Verstappen has looked strong here all weekend, and seemed confident from word go in qualifying. He topped Q1 and Q2, so it was no surprise to see him grab pole by a healthy margin. It’s his first pole position at this track, and sets him up well to extend his run of victories. Perez was always on his tail, and admitted he couldn’t quite nail his last flying run in Q3. While that cost him a spot on the front row, even the Mexican admitted his team mate was out of sight tonight.

READ MORE: Verstappen thrilled to take first pole in Jeddah after ‘failed’ 2021 effort as he prepares for possible ‘crazy race’

Max Verstappen, 1st, 1:27.472

“I enjoyed the day a lot. The car was really nice to drive and it was a good improvement from yesterday. We improved the car a little bit overnight and came out with a great set up which allowed me to attack the high speed corners and improve the one lap performance. Around this track, it really depends on your confidence level and how much you can go to your limit and today I felt very comfortable with the car. The whole of qualifying has been going very well, especially Q2 and my first lap in Q3. I am proud of today and am looking forward to the race tomorrow. As a Team we are happy with our car and the race pace and we really found our stride today. It has been a great job from the whole Team.”

Sergio Perez, 3rd, 1:27.807

“It would have been nice to have locked out the front row but I think we are in a good position to fight tomorrow. I felt like we took a back from practice, we had a positive Thursday but qualifying was not the same case unfortunately. The whole day hasn’t been as good as yesterday, I didn’t get the best out of the tyre preparation, in combination with the balance. So, we have to understand and review why that was but what we did to the car should hopefully mean we are stronger in the race. It’s important to get past Charles as soon as possible and be in the mix, especially with the DRS zones I think it is going to be important to make progress early. I believe we have stronger race pace than Ferrari but degradation can kick in and change things very quickly. It is always a challenge here but you can overtake and race and there is a long way ahead of us."

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“It was a very strong qualifying performance by the Team today and has been great to see Max claim his 34th poll. Indeed, in Q3, he did two laps that were good enough to claim pole position, which is an incredible performance. To see Checo lining up third on the grid for tomorrow is brilliant and it puts us in a good position for the race. Tomorrow will inevitably be a tough one here around the streets of Jeddah and the other teams looks strong, but we have a lot of confidence in the Team and the car, look like we have a strong race pace and are looking forward to the race.”

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing looks on in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari

Sainz’s stomach bug turned out to be appendicitis, so as he was rushed off for surgery, their reserve driver Bearman was parachuted in. Despite having never driven the SF-24 prior to third practice, he gave a good account of himself and did even more than that when qualifying rolled around. Having never driven in the cooler evening conditions, he made Q2 and came within a whisker of Q3 – settling for a very promising P11 on the grid. It was left to Leclerc to fly the flag for the team in the top 10 shootout, as the Monegasque driver once again grabbed a front row berth. But even he couldn’t get close to Verstappen’s time out there.

READ MORE: Ferrari super-sub Bearman says missing Q3 in quali debut 'hurts' as Leclerc looks to ‘surprise’ Red Bulls in Saudi

Charles Leclerc, 2nd, 1:27.791

"I’m not fully satisfied with qualifying today and we will work on understanding the feeling I had during the sessions to be able to get all the potential out of the car in the future. I wish Carlos all the best for a speedy recovery and congratulations to Ollie, who is extremely talented and he showed it today on his first Formula 1 qualifying. He's done a lot of sim work which makes me happy to see that the prep he did back at the factory paid off as he was well prepared and extremely impressive today. I think between the two of us, we can bring home plenty of points tomorrow."

__Oliver Bearman, 11th, 1:28.642 __

"It’s been a great day but it could have been even better. It wasn’t the ideal way of making my F1 debut and of course I send all my best wishes to Carlos for a speedy recovery. But it’s a great opportunity nevertheless. I would have liked to have come to quali with more than the 22 laps I did in FP3. But I can still be happy with today, even if Q2 was a bit messy. It was so close, but I made a mistake on my first push lap, so I had to do a second one and by then the tyres were no longer at their best. Now I’m ready to make the most of this opportunity tomorrow. I will focus on bringing the car home, although points would be nice. But it’s my first race on a really difficult track, so I can’t expect too much."

Fred Vasseur, Team Principal

"It was a pretty good session, even if Max did a fantastic job at the beginning of Q3 and that pole time was a bit too far away for us. Charles’ last attempt was very good and so he was able to secure P2 once again on the front row. Now with him, we have to focus on the race, we had good pace yesterday, so we need to have a good strategy and a clean race.

"I’m also pleased with Oliver as it was not an easy day for him, jumping in the car at the last minute, as I only told him on the phone three hours before FP3. Managing to get to Q2, not far from making it to Q3 and on what is a very difficult track is pretty impressive. Even though he had so many things to manage he was not particularly nervous and it was an unforgettable experience for him. In FP3 we focused on doing pit stops and also worked on the starts, two aspects that will be important for him tomorrow. Let’s see what he can achieve."

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Sparks fly behind Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Alonso's FP2 pace under the lights turned out to be genuine, as the Spaniard looked right in the hunt for pole in Jeddah. He had a very handy tow from Hamilton across the line to start his final flying lap but made a small mistake in the final sector, and that was enough to relegate him to the second row. With Stroll also in the top 10, Aston Martin clearly have a fast qualifying car – but is it a quick race car?

Fernando Alonso, 4th, 1:27.846

“It’s a nice surprise again to have a strong Qualifying in Jeddah. We are very competitive in one lap and our car is responding very well in Qualifying. I enjoyed every lap out there tonight. On my final push lap in Q3 I managed to take a tow from Lewis [Hamilton] onto the main straight but maybe I lost a tenth of a second into Turn 1, so in the end it balanced out over the lap. It’s a good result for Aston Martin but the real test is tomorrow. We have our feet on the ground and we will see where we are with our race pace.”

Lance Stroll, 10th, 1:28.572

“Q1 was very good – the car felt really positive. But then I think we might have had some issues in Q3 – we need to investigate it. The car felt a bit tricky and then I lost some time in the final sector – which is basically just straights – on my last Q3 lap. We need to look into why we weren’t able to go any quicker after Q1 – we were much better at the start of Qualifying than at the end. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow – it’s going to be a long race, with a lot of degradation, so there will definitely be some opportunities.”

Mike Krack, Team Principal

“A good Qualifying session this evening in Jeddah. Our target was to put both cars into Q3. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses around this circuit. We have achieved our target. A lot can happen here in the race. The most important consideration for tomorrow is to finish with both cars in points-scoring positions.”

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

McLaren

Norris never seemed 100% happy in qualifying, complaining over the radio and generally not his usual enthusiastic self. He seemed to be trailing his team mate in every segment, and the same occurred in Q3 with Piastri the pick of the duo. There wasn’t much in it between them though, not even half a tenth in the end, although Piastri has used one more set of soft tyres than his team mate which could harm him tomorrow.

Lando Norris, 6th, 1:28.132

“A good day. I don’t think we could have asked for much more as a team, so I’m happy. I think we got the most out of the car. We went 4-2-1 with the tyres, which put us at a disadvantage in qualifying with one fewer set of tyres. That made our life a little bit trickier today, but we knew that, we knew what to expect, and we hope it will pay us back tomorrow. I’m very happy and I think we maximised today. Well done to Ollie Bearman, that's a really impressive result given he didn't know he'd be driving an F1 car today, he definitely seems to like this circuit. Best wishes to Carlos too, hopefully he'll have a speedy recovery.”

Oscar Piastri, 5th, 1:28.089

“P5. I think that was probably the most we could have got out of it, but it was a decent session and the car felt pretty good. All-in-all, we can be pretty happy with that. We definitely still have some things to improve with the car but I think that was a pretty solid session, minus a little tap of the wall in Q1. Going into tomorrow, I think we’re in a good position and hopefully we can move forward. Congratulations to Ollie Bearman on his efforts today as well, it was impressive to see him in Q2 having only hopped in the car this morning.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“A good result for the team today in qualifying puts us in a strong position to score good points tomorrow. Lando and Oscar made constant improvements today, session-by-session, and put together competitive laps in a field that was tight all the way through qualifying.

“With Lando, we decided to bias the tyre strategy slightly more towards the race, so it’s good that he’s up there in qualifying. With Oscar, we wanted to maximise qualifying potential and he did a very good job in achieving this result. We’re looking forward to a productive race.”

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren prepares to drive in the garage during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Mercedes

Mercedes continued their set-up changes on Friday, still experimenting as they debated which direction to take. They wound up with two cars in the top 10 at least, but neither driver was 100% happy out there. Russell made a mistake on his final flying run in Q3, which was his only run on fresh softs so was frustrated with himself, while Hamilton was battling the car and never looked on the pace of his team mate.

Lewis Hamilton, 8th, 1:28.460

"It was a very difficult day today. I was much happier in FP3, and the car was feeling much better than on Thursday. It was a real improvement, and I had a lot more confidence in the car. Unfortunately in qualifying, it felt similar to yesterday and I didn’t have the stability from the car that I needed. It was a struggle, and we were losing out particularly in the high-speed first sector.

"Our race pace is typically better than our qualifying pace. We have also been quick in a straight-line so hopefully that helps us. It will be difficult, but we will be giving it everything we’ve got to progress forward tomorrow. If we can do so, that would be great."

George Russell, 7th, 1:28.316

"Unfortunately I was unable to complete my last lap on the new tyres. I made a mistake, which is on me, and that was that. My quickest lap therefore was on the used tyres. It was a strong one but if I had finished my final effort, I think we may have been fighting for P4 or even higher.

"It is so tight out there and we saw last week that if you don’t get everything together, then you can lose several positions. We are still learning about this car; we were P1 and P2 in practice in Bahrain and P2 here again yesterday. We slipped back today but there is potential there. It’s a long season so we will be looking to understand more about the platform we have and deliver more consistently.

"I am confident that we’ve got good race pace for tomorrow. We look quick in a straight-line, which is a bonus. It’s tricky to follow here though and it should be a simple one-stop with the degradation. We need to make a good start and see what we can do from there."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"That was a very annoying qualifying session! We’ve got a quick car, but it is on a knife’s edge. The drivers are struggling to squeeze out the lap consistently. George was on his way to a strong lap and could have been fighting for spots on the second row. Unfortunately he lost the rear of the car. Lewis meanwhile never had the feedback from the car that he wanted, and that meant he couldn’t go faster.

"I think the race pace will be very close between ourselves, the Ferraris, and the McLarens. Our target is to try to be ahead of them tomorrow, but we know overtaking isn’t easy here. Last week, we thought we had a car that was quicker in race trim, but we were unable to show that. Hopefully we will have a better evening here in Jeddah. We will do our best and see what we can deliver."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"We're disappointed to line up P7 and P8. That is particularly true considering the gap to pole position, but we'll have to find a way to make it work for us tomorrow in the race. Our performance in the high-speed corners wasn't good enough; we improved the car slightly overnight, but we'll need to make this better ahead of Suzuka and Melbourne.

"We don't really know where everyone will stack up on long run pace tomorrow. Verstappen looked clear of the field, but it's quite tight behind and not many cars did runs that were long enough to get a clear read on degradation. It's normally an incident filled race here so opportunities may come to us tomorrow. We will look to take advantage of those but today just wasn't good enough."

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

RB

RB had a very similar qualifying result to last week’s, with Ricciardo once again 14th on the grid as he continues to struggle with the car on the lower fuel runs. Tsunoda out-qualified his team mate again, only this time instead of winding up 11th, he scraped into Q3 and once there out-qualified the Aston Martin of Stroll. It was a good result for the Japanese racer, but he might be hard-pushed tomorrow to stay there with a Ferrari trying to come through from behind.

Daniel Ricciardo, 14th, 1:29.025

“It was a very frustrating qualifying. Compared to Bahrain, where I was more frustrated with myself because I knew there was more time on the table, today was a little bit more of a mystery. I know where the time was, but I don’t know how we could’ve got it in that session. I was confident going into qualifying, and I was feeling quite good in the car, but on the second run, I made a mistake. Nonetheless, we were still in the fight. Once in Q2, everyone was improving their lap time, but I felt like I couldn’t get any more out of what I had, and we just plateaued. It wasn’t a matter of understeer or oversteer, but more that I didn’t have the grip compared to the others. Well done to Yuki, he did a great job! Thinking of tomorrow, I have a few areas in mind to analyse, so we’ll look into them and hopefully, we’ll find more performance for the race.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 9th, 1:28.547

“We did it! I’m very happy today. The team did a fantastic job of giving me a nice car, and I enjoyed it, so a huge thanks to everyone. We were expecting it to be difficult, but I focused on myself to extract as much performance from the car as possible, and I’m pleased I was able to put it all together. It’s the first Q3 of the year and it’s given us extra confidence for the future. I enjoyed today a lot, but tomorrow won’t be easy, so we now focus on the race. We have a lot of experienced people, and I’m confident we can maximise our package and score some points.”

Guillaume Dezoteux, Head of Vehicle Performance

“We had a busy Thursday evening, analysing the telemetry data and testing setup changes in the simulator. We knew the midfield would be very tight, and the qualifying result could be very different between achieving or not achieving a good car balance and getting a clean lap. Both cars started the third Free Practice on a medium tyre with the objective of confirming the setup changes done overnight, but the track conditions were a bit different. Then, we rather concentrated on the soft tyre towards the end of the session to assess the behaviour of our cars.

“The qualifying session went very well for Yuki, who managed to get to Q3 and secure P9 ahead of Stroll. The car felt consistent during the entire session, and our plan of focusing on single laps, getting good traffic windows and adapting the balance to the track evolution worked very well. Daniel made it through to Q2 with some margin but unfortunately couldn’t progress to Q3. It appeared more difficult for him to put the lap together, and some corners – like Turn 4 – were difficult, which is something we need to understand better.

“Tonight, we will work on the strategy simulations to define the most likely scenarios for the race. The cars directly ahead of us are slightly faster, but we know Jeddah can offer eventful races, and our target is to score the first points of the season here.”

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 leaves the garage during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Williams

Sargeant had a moment in final practice, brushing the wall and damaging the front of his car. The lengthy repairs meant he didn’t get any soft tyre running in. That seemed to cost him when it came to qualifying, as he exited at the first time of asking. Albon made it to Q2, and wound up an encouraging 12th for the team.

FACTS AND STATS: Verstappen grabs the fastest pole outside of Monza for three decades

Alex Albon, 12th, 1:28.980

"I’m mostly happy with P12 but I know we’re still missing Q3 by a few tenths, so we’re a little further from where we want to be but it’s good progress.

"We have good race pace and I think we’ll be able to manage the tyres reasonably well tomorrow.

"Whilst we struggled a little bit today, our race pace looks to be slightly better than some of our competitors, so we’ll see what we can do with it tomorrow."

Logan Sargeant, 19th, 1:29.526

"We’ve had the car in a good place all weekend and it was definitely capable of getting through to Q2.

"Our first lap of Qualifying was right where we needed to be, but a very compromised outlap on the second run meant we couldn’t get the tyre in the right window.

"It looks like tomorrow will be a high-pace race and our long runs look okay, so hopefully we can make up some places."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"A lot of good work was done overnight, both at the track and in Grove, and we were able to improve the car as a result. Conditions were similar to yesterday but getting the tyres just in the right window whilst also managing the traffic remained very difficult throughout today.

"Logan unfortunately kissed the wall early in FP3. Although the contact was minor, it did enough damage to the front suspension to mean that he was unable to run again during the session.

"In this context, his opening lap in Q1 was very impressive but he was unable to really build on the strong start as Q1 progressed.

"Alex was able to build his confidence and refine his tyre preparation during Q1 but was unable to complete his final lap having lost a lot of time coming up behind the Ferrari; he was lucky to progress to Q2 based on an earlier lap.

"Once in Q2, he was able to find a good rhythm and adapt his tyre preparation to the ever-cooling track condition. After the red flag we opted to adjust his run plan to ensure a clear outlap for his final attempt.

"Despite not having the tyres in a perfect window for the start of that lap, he was able to set his best time of the event and finish in 12th.

"The tyres behave quite differently here in race conditions and so the drivers will need to use their experience from FP2 to find the right level of tyre management to race hard tomorrow.

"Both have an excellent opportunity to progress during the race and we will do everything we can to give them that chance."

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes prepares to drive in the garage during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Haas

Haas looked quick in final practice, so it was no surprise when both drivers made it to Q2 with relative ease. But once there, Hulkenberg was forced to pull up trackside with a power unit problem. That both ruined Magnussen’s first lap and brought out the red flags, disrupting everyone’s rhythm. When the session restarted, the Dane couldn’t extract the same sort of pace form the car as in Q1 and exited along with his team mate.

Nico Hulkenberg, 15th, No time set in Q2

“The power cut, and on the radio the team said it was related to the fuel system – fuel not being delivered to the engine – which is obviously a problem and they asked me to stop. Yesterday's running was okay, not great, but we did some decent set-up work overnight, but we can’t really test that until tomorrow obviously. I think it will be challenging either way, especially from where we start with traffic and running with the pack. It’s going to be an interesting day for us to see how the package performs here on a very different circuit to Bahrain.”

Kevin Magnussen, 13th, 1:29.020

“It went better than expected I would say. The cold temperatures didn’t seem to help us so we were having to do a preparation lap, instead of just an out lap, then push. It looks like we were more exposed with the cold temperatures, which is a different situation than we’re used to, normally it’s the other way around. P13 for tomorrow is a decent starting position, it’s close to the points and I think we can fight for them - it could’ve been much worse.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal

“We knew this qualifying session would be tight and we had to get everything out of it to achieve a good result. The good thing is we managed to get both cars into Q2, so that’s pretty good. Of course, Q2 didn’t go according to plan – Nico had an issue with the fuel system which we’re still investigating. On Kevin’s side, I think he had a good chance again but unfortunately due to a timing procedure error, he didn’t get around in time to start his final timed lap, so we’ll review that and ensure that doesn’t happen again. The good thing for tomorrow is that in our FP2 long-run, we had pretty consistent pace, so I still think we can go for a top 10 finish tomorrow, so the whole team is focused on that.”

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Haas F1 looks on in the garage during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Kick Sauber

Zhou lost the rear of his car on his first push lap on softs in final practice, spinning into the barriers and damaging both the rear and front of his car. His team were hard pushed to repair it and although they got him out in Q1 with 1:50 on the clock, he couldn’t make it round in time to start a flying lap. That left Bottas to fly the flag for the team, but he had to lift off on his last flying run after encountering traffic and also exited in Q1.

WATCH: Heavy crash for Zhou brings out red flags during FP3 in Saudi Arabia

Valtteri Bottas, 16th, 1:29.179

“It is very disappointing to finish just a handful of hundredths away from Q2. It had actually been a decent session until the last push lap, when I got caught up in traffic in the last four corners, and ended up with not one, but two cars blocking the way in front of me. Based on the delta, I should have made it through, which makes it even more frustrating. We are still lacking something on single-lap performance, and today’s happenings didn’t work out in our favour. Nevertheless, tomorrow is a new day, with new opportunities to fight our way through the field. Based on the last event, our race pace should grant us better chances to improve our grid positions. Of course, the starting slots we are in are not ideal, so it’ll be important to keep away from trouble at the start and in Turn 1, and try everything we can to get some points.”

Zhou Guanyu, 20th, No time set in Q1

"First and foremost, the team did a fantastic job putting the car back together in such a short time, which is definitely not an easy task. The accident in Turn Six was quite some impact: it’s a flat-out corner, and I lost the rear – which cost us the qualifying and a chance to show what we can do due to the time we needed to repair the car. Until then, the weekend, in general, had felt good, and I can feel the team has made a step forward. Unfortunately, we’ll start from the back at a track with not much tyre degradation, definitely not a position we wanted to be in. Nevertheless, I am happy that the team managed to get me out there to get a feel for the car ahead of the race. Tomorrow will be difficult, but our race pace has been looking decent so far, and we’ll stay positive.”

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative

First of all, we must be grateful for the team getting Zhou’s car back together and out on track for the qualifying session. While we missed the chance to set a time for a mere five seconds, at least we could do an installation lap to ensure the car is in running conditions again. Following the accident, Zhou was checked by the Medical Center due to high G-forces sustained in the impact and, thankfully, he was fine. Tomorrow will be another race where we’ll have to fight to recover our positions. Valtteri, unfortunately, missed Q2 for a tiny margin, having lost roughly five tenths in the last few corners due to traffic: it’s quite disappointing, as he clearly had the potential for a higher position up the grid. We have shown in Bahrain that we can fight close to the points, and that’s what we have our eyes on for tomorrow – while it’s not an easy target, I am confident in the ability of the team and our drivers to make up some positions during the race.”

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: The car of Zhou Guanyu of China and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber is removed from the circuit after a crash causing a red flag during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Alpine

There were signs of a small recovery for Alpine yesterday, but under the lights when the rest turned their engines up, the French manufacturer couldn’t do likewise and sunk back down the order. Ocon managed to out-qualify his team mate for what that is worth, but with both exiting in Q1 again, it’s a very small consolation ahead of what could be a very long race tomorrow.

Esteban Ocon, 17th, 1:29.475

“It’s been a difficult Qualifying for us here in Jeddah, where we still lack some performance. I would say I maximised the session and unfortunately that was only enough for Q1. We will keep pushing, keep our heads high and keep digging to unlock more pace from the car. We will fight in the race – as we always do - and try to have a good start tomorrow. Our straight line speed has been reasonably competitive this weekend, so we will see how we can race relative to others. Gathering data and learning more about the car is also a must for us.”

Pierre Gasly, 18th, 1:29.479

“Unfortunately, we had a challenging Qualifying session in Jeddah. The first push lap in Q1 felt good, we maximised the lap, but the pace was just not there. On my second lap, I was lacking rear grip and the car was sliding quite a bit. We need to analyse why this happens and find solutions going forward. We knew it would not be an easy day but everyone is pushing to find improvements and we are doing our best to improve our current situation. Tomorrow is race day and we will fight and give everything we can, as we do each and every time we are in the car. I will try my best to go up the grid and, as a team, we will keep bettering our understanding of the package.”

Bruno Famin, Team Principal

“It’s been a tricky day in Jeddah but credit to the entire team for keeping spirits high and pushing in every area. Race day is a new opportunity and I know the team, and the drivers, will bring the same commitment tomorrow to keep finding improvements. We will see what tomorrow brings and we will keep working hard together as a team to improve our understanding and our performance.”

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A524 Renault on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Pirelli

Mario Isola, Motorsport Director

“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.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Catch the best of the action from qualifying in Saudi Arabia as Verstappen takes pole

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