Max Verstappen Crashes to hand Lewis Hamilton Pole in Saudi Arabia

LH Pole - Max Verstappen Crashes
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Lewis Hamilton secured back-to-back poles for the first time this season, at the most crucial point of the year to keep the pressure on championship leader Max Verstappen.

As mentioned in Qatar, since 2010, the pole sitter at new circuits goes on to take the World Title that year. With Hamilton taking pole at both new tracks this year is that a good omen? Or can Max Verstappen hold on to his current lead and put an end to that stat?

Aston Martin Nightmare

Q1 was surprisingly dramatic in Saudi Arabia, we said goodbye to both Aston Martin cars, along with the Haas duo and Nicholas Latifi.

Hearts will have been in the mouths of Mercedes fans everywhere as Valtteri Bottas lost power at the end of the session. Thankfully, the issue wasn’t terminal and he was able to come out in Q2. A relieved Bottas on his 100th Mercedes race start, managing to keep up his record of making Q3 in every single race he has represented Mercedes in.

Lewis Hamilton on the Back Foot?

Running on the tyres you start the race on, Hamilton had to run four laps more than Verstappen in Q2, potentially handing the upper hand to Verstappen and Red Bull.

We lost Carlos Sainz, George Russell, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo in Q2. The result keeps the race for P3 in the Constructor’s Championship intriguing with a single McLaren and Ferrari outside the top 10.

Max Verstappen Crashes – Lewis Hamilton Pole

It was a real see-saw session in Q3. Verstappen took the early initiative, putting himself just under four tenths up on Hamilton who made an error.

The hunter in the championship fight came into the pits for an adjustment to the front wing to help him get the car locked into the super-fast Jeddah street circuit. What a change it was for Hamilton who placed his Black Arrow on provisional pole. Valtteri Bottas followed suit and took P2 provisionally.

All eyes then focussed on Max Verstappen as he looked to break Mercedes hearts. He was on what would have been the lap of the season, pushing himself, the car and the circuit walls to the limits. Unfortunately for the Dutchman, on the final corner he hit the wall while he was already three tenths up on Hamilton. Heartbreak for Verstappen who was one corner away from the lap of the season.

It could get worse for Verstappen, there could be gearbox damage, and after only just fitting a new one, a five-place grid penalty hangs over his head if it didn’t survive the impact.

Lewis Hamilton’s Lucky Day?

There was still drama off track for the defending World Champion. He was summoned to the stewards for two incidents in FP3. Firstly for allegedly ignoring double waved yellows, he was acquitted. Then for holding up Nikita Mazepin who was on a quick lap. Mercedes only gave Lewis Hamilton 10 seconds notice of the Russian, so they got a twenty-five euro fine. A fair decision given it was their fault and not Hamilton’s.

Mazepin revealed that Hamilton had messaged him to apologise and also thank him for taking avoiding action. If the Russian bundled into the back of his W12, his entire qualifying could have been in doubt while the team repaired the car. Someone was clearly looking out for the seven-time World Champion today!

Driver Reaction

Lewis Hamilton praised the track, but also held his teammate in the highest regard: “What a tough track this is. It’s amazing what they’ve built, the speed and the pace around here is phenomenal. It’s a great result for the team and a great job by Valtteri [P2] – he’s the best team mate there’s ever been in this sport!”

Valtteri Bottas vows to give it his all tomorrow: “This was an important qualifying. I was on the limit, this track is tough but I really enjoyed it. I will do my best tomorrow.”

Max Verstappen was left to rue his mistake: “I don’t really understand what happened [on the final flying lap]. I locked up a bit. P3 is disappointing, but today did show that the car is quick around here… so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Final Classification:

Lewis Hamilton takes pole as Max Verstappen crashes – Who takes the race win?

Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images