Sergio Perez enjoys the highspeed Jeddah circuit, which favours the fastest and bravest, the Red Bull driver powering to his second Formula 1 career pole start for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as he did last year when he earned his maiden top spot start.
With teammate and pre-qualifying favorite Max Verstappen suffering a driveshaft issue that put him out of contention on the night, there was immense pressure on Perez to deliver for the team, as they clearly have the best car on the grid by a significant margin and anything less would’ve been eye-brow raising.
Might Verstappen have taken pole had his car not broken down? Probably, but when it mattered Perez delivered in a manner that will no doubt please his team.
Speaking in parc ferme after an entertaining session under the bright floodlights of the desert venue, Perez said: “It was tricky, it was tricky that Q3, especially not getting that second lap, Q1 was quite good and clean, nailing that lap you really feel the Formula 1 cars come alive at this place, maximising that lap was really important.”
As for Verstappen’s plight: “It’s a shame because Max has been really strong the whole weekend, so hopefully we can have both cars up there as you never know with these cars, and reliability issues can hit you at any time.”
Checo: We have a good race car and showed strong race pace
Later, in the team report, Perez added: “You can lose two-tenths through the early section of corners if you’re not careful, especially with the low downforce that we’re running, so I’m very happy to come away with pole.
“It will be very interesting to see what happens in the race, especially with some of the other cars running high downforce. As we saw last year, anything can happen. We have a good race car and showed strong race pace on Friday, so let’s hope Max can also push up the grid and together, we can aim for maximum points for the Team.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was pleased with his driver: “The lap from Checo, the first lap in Q3, was phenomenal, so I am delighted for him to get his second pole.
“It is a tough race here, it is going to be a matter of staying out of trouble. There is going to be plenty of action and plenty of carnage and it should provide an exciting race hopefully. It is a great opportunity for Checo, important to convert that, and we are going to have two different races going on in the Grand Prix,” added Horner.
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