Max Verstappen took a dominant pole position in Saudi Arabia

Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen also showed his dominance for Red Bull in the second qualifying round of the year and secured pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. At the Jetta Corniche circuit on Friday, the Dutchman was clearly faster than Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who was 0.319s behind. Sergio Perez (+0.335) will start from third in the second Red Bull on Saturday (6pm/ORF 1 and Sky).

It was the 34th pole of his career and his first in Jeddah for Verstappen, who also won the opening race in Bahrain. This moves the 26-year-old past Jim Clark and Alain Prost on the all-time greats list, with Verstappen fifth. Aston Martin veteran Fernando Alonso finished fourth (+0.374). McLaren pair Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris finished fifth and sixth ahead of the two Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. The match was postponed by a day due to the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Pearman replaced Ferrari in eleventh

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz will not be there, having withdrawn with appendicitis. The 29-year-old Spaniard has already undergone surgery. It remains to be seen whether Sains will be able to compete in the next race in Australia in two weeks. Replacement driver Oliver “Ollie” Pearman finished eleventh in the premier class in his first qualifying round, the debutant just missing out on making it to “Q3” by one second at 36k.

Sauber driver Zhou Guanyu crashed in the third practice session and was unable to set a time in qualifying. The Chinese also shortened Pearman's practice time in the red car. The 18-year-old Brit, who regularly drives for Prema in the Formula 2 Junior Series, will become the youngest Ferrari driver in Formula 1 history in Saturday's race. Pearman was the first Ferrari driver to debut for the sport's oldest and most glamorous team since Italian Arturo Merzario in 1972. In Formula 2, Pearman, who considers Jeddah one of his favorite tracks, took pole position.

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Sainz complained of feeling unwell shortly after arriving in Saudi Arabia and left the track again on Wednesday to recuperate in a hotel. He completed training for both the divisions on Thursday. Last Saturday, Sainz finished third in the season opener in Bahrain. The Madrid native is in his final season driving for Ferrari. Next year he will have to give up his seat to reigning world champion Hamilton, who will move from Mercedes to the Scuderia. Sainz does not yet have a new employer.

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