What Happened With Max Verstappen Today: Why Did Red Bull Star Retire From Saudi Arabian GP Qualifying?

Vidit Dhawan
|Published 18/03/2023

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix qualifying session witnessed a shocker as Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen retired after the second session.

The Dutchman had dominated the entire race weekend by clocking in the quickest time in all three practice sessions. As a result of his failure to put in a lap time for Q2, at best, Verstappen will start the race in 15th place, provided the team does not face a penalty.

Why did Max Verstappen retire from Saudi Arabian GP qualifying?

Shortly after Max Verstappen complained about engine issues and retired from the Saudi Arabian GP qualifying, Red Bull Racing put out a statement to explain the problem.

The Milton Keynes outfit confirmed that the 25-year-old had suffered a driveshaft mechanical failure in Q2. Meanwhile, F1’s official website also confirmed the Dutchman’s unavailability from the rest of the qualifying rounds. This exclusion means he is most likely to start from P15 on Sunday.

After the qualifying session concluded, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner explained the issue Verstappen faced.

“Yes, that is what it looks like at the moment (a driveshaft issue), but we need to get into the car and see what exactly has happened. That lap, he did in Q1 would have put him fourth on the grid. Nonetheless, we have a quick race car,” said the British team principal.

Verstappen likely to lose championship lead after a poor qualifying

Max Verstappen entered the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend as the championship leader after winning the season opener in Bahrain. The Dutchman is currently at the top of the standings with 25 points, seven points clear of his Red Bull Racing teammate, Sergio Perez.

However, following Verstappen’s retirement from qualifying, he will likely lose his lead in the championship barring a miracle.

Because of the staggering advantage Red Bull Racing have in pace as compared to most of the other teams, the Dutchman can realistically still fight back for a top-five finish if not better.

Also Read: 2023 Saudi Arabian GP Time and Live Streaming : When and Where to Watch the Race at Jeddah Corniche Circuit?

Sergio Perez to start on pole for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

While Max Verstappen suffered a disappointing exit from qualifying, it was not all gloomy for Red Bull Racing. Sergio Perez dominated the rest of the qualifying by putting in a cracking lap time of 1:28.265.

He was 0.155 seconds quicker than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and 0.465s faster than Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso. The only thing that might stop the Mexican from starting at the front of the grid for Sunday’s race is if the team were to face a penalty.

This is because Perez will use his second energy store battery as well as a new control electronics out of the two permitted for the season.

When it comes to the rest of the qualifying session, George Russell set the fourth-fastest time in his Mercedes, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz just behind him.

Behind them, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll qualified in sixth, with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in seventh. It was another disappointing day for Lewis Hamilton as he could only manage the eighth-fastest time in his Mercedes.

The Briton qualified ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly completing the top 10. Meanwhile, the rest of the grid is mentioned below:

11) Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)

12) Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo Racing)

13) Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

14) Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo Racing)

15) Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing)

16 Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

17) Alex Albon (Williams)

18) Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri)

19) Lando Norris (McLaren)

20) Logan Sargeant (Williams)

Also Read: Max Verstappen Reveals the Only Thing That Would Have Stopped Him From Taking Part in Saudi Arabian GP

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About the author
Vidit Dhawan

Vidit Dhawan

Vidit Dhawan is an F1 writer at The SportsRush. He fell in love with the sport at first sight when F1 visited India in 2011. The noise and the racing action from lights out and away we go to the chequered flag are what keeps him at the edge of his seat at all times. Vidit has been a lifelong Fernando Alonso fan and sees Charles Leclerc as the future of the sport. Other than F1, he also follows football and tennis closely.

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