Welcome to our coverage for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from the Jeddah Corniche (street) Circuit. It is becoming a bit of a joke and an easy thing to say, but this is the season that just keeps delivering, isn’t it? At every stage. We have just two races, one qualifying and three practice sessions remaining and still there is hardly anything to separate Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Saturday’s qualifying session had a dramatic climax. Tom Cary reports from Jeddah:
We were promised drama in Saudi Arabia this week, and boy did we get it.
A hugely dramatic day, one which saw yet more controversy in this most breathless of seasons, ended with Mercedes’ seven-time champion claiming pole for Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix while his title rival, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, was forced to trudge back to the pits in despair after slamming his car into the final corner on his final flying lap.
It could prove the costliest error of the young Dutchman’s career.
Red Bull’s championship leader was on a flyer, turning the timesheets purple as he lowered Hamilton’s mark through the first two sectors of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, trying to improve on P3. It was breathtaking stuff, “a mighty, mighty lap” according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
But he was clearly on the ragged edge, pushing dangerously close to the car’s – and the circuit’s – limits. Verstappen had already nearly lost control a couple of times even before he reached the final corner and locked up, losing the rear end and clipping the outside wall.