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Perez takes first career pole in Jeddah after Schumacher smash

Perez takes first career pole in Jeddah after Schumacher smash

FORMULA ONE: Sergio Perez claimed his first ever Formula 1 pole position after an enormous crash for Mick Schumacher delayed qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for almost an hour yesterday (Mar 26).

By Michael Lamonato

Sunday 27 March 2022, 09:18AM

Perez has taken the first pole position of his F1 career at his 215th race. Photo: AFP

Perez has taken the first pole position of his F1 career at his 215th race. Photo: AFP

Schumacher was competing for a spot the top 10 when he lost control of his car over the kerbs at turn 10. His Haas was spun around and spat sideways into the concrete wall, ripping off two wheels the process.

The wreckage then bounced of the barriers before grinding to a halt in turn 12, where medical crews extricated him from the car and transported him to hospital via helicopter.

Haas reported him to be conscious and apparently uninjured, though he would undergo further precautionary scans later in the evening.

The session was delayed for almost a full hour for repairs and track cleaning, and when qualifying finally got back underway battle resumed between Ferrari and Red Bull Racing for pole position.

Carlos Sainz seized the momentum early with a provisional pole lap, but Charles Leclerc used his second lap to reverse the order at the head of the field.

Red Bull Racing followed over the line, but Max Verstappen was struggling to find grip from his soft tyres. But Perez was having no such problems, and a sublime lap pipped Leclerc by just 0.025 seconds to deliver him the first pole position of his F1 career at his 215th race.

“It took me a couple of races but what a lap,” he said. “Unbelievable. I can do 1000 laps and I don’t think I can beat that lap. It was unbelievable.

“We weren’t really expecting to match the Ferraris in qualifying. We were concentrating mainly on the race, so hopefully we get that tomorrow.”

Pole came as much a surprise to Perez as it did to Leclerc, who was shocked to miss out on top spot after a clean lap.

“The lap felt good, honestly,” he said. “I definitely did not expect Checo to come with that lap time, so congratulations him.

“It’s another day tomorrow, and hopefully we’ll have a good start.”

C and C Marine

Carlos Sainz completed the top three for Ferrari ahead of the trailing Verstappen, 0.2 seconds and 0.26 seconds off the pole pace respectively.

Esteban Ocon qualified fifth for Alpine ahead of George Russell, the highest placed Mercedes drivers on the grid and a shocking 10 places ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton was the shock result of the session, eliminated in Q1 for the first time since the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix after struggling with an experimental car set-up as the team continues grappling with its difficult aerodynamic package.

The seven-time champion suggested he may break parc fermé overnight to change his set-up again and start from the pit lane to improve his race chances.

Fernando Alonso qualified seventh for Alpine ahead of Valtteri Bottas’s Alfa Romeo. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly will start ninth ahead of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen to complete the top 10.

McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo turned in improved qualifying form compared to Bahrain, though neither was in contention for the top 10. Ricciardo is also likely to be subjected to stewards scrutiny for appearing to obstruct Ocon on a fast lap earlier in qualifying.

Zhou Guanyu qualified 13th ahead of Schumacher, though the young German is unlikely to start the race, according to Haas boss Guenther Steiner.

Lance Stroll will start 15th ahead of Hamilton, with Thailand’s Alex Albon following for Williams ahead of Aston Martin’s Nico Hulkenberg in 18th.

Nicholas Latifi qualified 19th after crashing his Williams at the start of qualifying.

Yuki Tsunoda will start last after he was prevented from setting a time due to a suspected water system issue.

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