Verstappen: Very annoying for it to happen

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 18: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing prepares to drive prior to final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 18, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

A broken driveshaft cut short Max Verstappen’s bid for pole position during qualifying for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and is set to start the race on Sunday from P15 on the grid.

Few would’ve bet on Verstappen not getting pole today in Jeddah, but the motorsport ‘gods’ turned on him as he hammered the Red Bull RB19 around the unforgiving street circuit perhaps a tad too hard.

Whatever the cause, the team confirmed a broken driveshaft did the deed. Thus Verstappen will be forced to show what he’s got from the depth of the grid to win the race, as he did at Spa-Francorchamps last year.

Speaking to reporters after qualifying, Verstappen said: “It was the first time I heard about that [driveshaft issue]. Coming out of Turn 10 it happens, which is very annoying for it to happen.

“I think we so far had a really good weekend, every session was going really well and every time we went on track the car was working really well. So now it’s a little bit more tricky to get to the front, but it’s all about scoring points.

“It’s a very long season, of course, I would have hoped to start a bit further up the road, but we cannot change that now. Anything is possible at this track. We’ve seen a lot of crazy things, but also we have to stay a little bit realistic,” added Verstappen.

Verstappen’s misfortune was teammate Sergio Perez’s good luck as he took the baton and delivered pole for Red Bull in the absence of their chosen one, while his teammate has the advantage of starting from the front.

“It’s going to be tough, but we have good pace, so for sure we’ll move forward,” insisted Verstappen, who won the season opener two Sundays ago.