Saturday, March 18, 2023

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    Verstappen 15th in qualifying after car trouble

    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Max Verstappen finished 15th in qualifying at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after he lost power in his Red Bull during the second part of the session.

    The reigning champion was the clear favourite for pole position after finishing 0.6s clear of his nearest rival in final practice and doubling down on that advantage in the first session of qualifying.

    But the loss of power, which occurred on his first attempt in Q2, meant he was unable to complete a lap in the second session and was therefore classified 15th.

    “The car is not accelerating,” Verstappen said over team radio shortly after the problem occurred.

    Verstappen returned the car to the pits, but it became immediately clear that he would not be able to continue.

    The disappointment follows a dominant victory for Verstappen at the opening round of the season in Bahrain, which earmarked him as the man to beat heading to Saudi Arabia.

    Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez made good on Red Bull’s potential by qualifying on pole position.

    Fernando Alonso continued Aston Martin’s feel-good story by securing a spot alongside Perez on the front row of the grid. Alonso claimed a podium behind the Red Bulls at the Bahrain Grand Prix and will feel confident about another strong result on Sunday evening.

    Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had beaten Alonso to second position in qualifying but will drop 10 places as a penalty for the team taking on extra engine components earlier this week, meaning he will join Verstappen in the second half of the grid.

    Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will start in seventh.

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