Verstappen’s last-lap crash gives Hamilton crucial pole

Watch Sunday’s Saudi Arabian GP, where Max Verstappen has a first mathematical chance to clinch the 2021 title, at 5.30pm on Sky Sports F1 and Main Event

By James Galloway

Last Updated: 04/12/21 6:34pm

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Max Verstappen was all set for pole position and was ahead on his lap but hits the wall at the very last corner

Max Verstappen was all set for pole position and was ahead on his lap but hits the wall at the very last corner

Lewis Hamilton will start on pole position for the Saudi Arabian GP after title rival Max Verstappen let the chance to head the grid slip by hitting the wall on the final corner of qualifying.

Verstappen, the eight-point championship leader, will now start from third behind an all-Mercedes front row of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for Sunday’s race, the penultimate round of the season.

At the end of tense and dramatic qualifying hour around the relentlessly fast Jeddah street track, Verstappen was absolutely flying on his final attempt and was two tenths up on Hamilton, who had just taken over provisional pole, through the lap’s first two sectors.

But then, disaster. Locking his car’s front-left brake into the Turn 27 final turn, Verstappen got slightly out of shape into the left hander and his right-rear wheel tagged the barrier with significant force.

“It’s of course terrible,” said a disappointed Verstappen afterwards.

“In general it was a good qualifying, I knew the pace was there and it showed at the end. I don’t really understand what happened but I locked up, I still tried to keep the car on track and keep going but clipped the rear and had to stop.”

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Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson looks at Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz spinning at the start of the middle sector during Q2 in Jedda.

Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson looks at Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz spinning at the start of the middle sector during Q2 in Jedda.

Sky F1’s Martin Brundle’s said: “He locked a front wheel and got frustrated.”

Verstappen has an outside chance to close out the title on Sunday if he outscores Hamilton by 18 points but the prospect of the required difficult race for his title rival has been lessened by the Briton heading an all-Mercedes front row.

In a further complication for Red Bull, Sergio Perez was beaten to fourth by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Saudi Arabian GP Qualifying: Top 10
1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
5) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
6) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
7) Lando Norris, McLaren
8) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
9) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
10) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo

More to follow…

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