Lewis Hamilton claimed a crucial pole position for this evening’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen as the F1 title race took another twist.
The Red Bull driver was poised to leapfrog his Mercedes rival before a stunning crash confirmed the seven-time word champion at the front of the grid in what promises to be a historic race in Jeddah.
Now the Briton, who admitted his pride at gaining an edge over his title rival in qualification, hopes to maintain his advantage and either close the Belgian-Dutch driver’s eight-point lead or eliminate it entirely should he also seize the bonus point for the fastest lap. It promises to be a race packed with thrills and spills as the Formula 1 season arrives at its penultimate race before the finale in Abu Dhabi.
It is imperative that Hamilton wins here, with Verstappen able to move towards the brink of title glory with a win, as it would stretch his lead enough that only significant trouble could prevent him from winning even if the Mercedes star wins the final race in Abu Dhabi.
And after what was a rare mistake from Verstappen in a dramatic qualifying session, he admitted: Of course it’s terrible. It was a good qualifying. I knew the pace was there, I don’t really understand what happened but I locked up, clipped the wall and had to stop. P3 is a bit disappointing but the car is quick and let’s see what we can do in the race.
The track shifted a little bit. I don’t know if it was just the wind but it made it so difficult with tyre temperatures and we were having to do heavy quick out laps to try to get the tyres working and in the right window, which was very odd.
The Bulls were definitely faster today, I don’t know if we lost performance or they just gained.
Wooh. That was one of the most intense qualifying sessions we’ve had for a while.
This one was heart in mouth for all of us. If Max had finished his lap, he would have been ahead, but we have to work as a team tomorrow.
Jos Verstappen told De Limburger newspaper: Here at Red Bull Racing we are in a good place.
There have been conversations with Toto Wolff and I also thought we had a good relationship with him, but the real Toto has shown himself lately.