Saudi Arabian GP: Sergio Perez on pole, Lewis Hamilton in recovery mode for F1’s ‘most dangerous’ race


Check out the provisional grid for today’s race with Sergio Perez on pole, Lewis Hamilton 14th and Mick Schumacher absent after high-speed crash; Perez calls track “most dangerous” in F1; Watch Saudi Arabian GP live on Sky Sports F1 at 6pm, with build-up from 4.30pm

Last Updated: 27/03/22 10:25am

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Sergio Perez joins Anthony Davidson at the SkyPad to analyse his sensational lap in Saudi Arabia qualifying which secured his first pole position

Sergio Perez joins Anthony Davidson at the SkyPad to analyse his sensational lap in Saudi Arabia qualifying which secured his first pole position

Sergio Perez lines up on pole ahead of the Ferraris while Lewis Hamilton faces a recovery mission from 14th as drivers prepare to take on what they have described as F1’s “most dangerous” race, the Saudi Arabian GP.

There is a mixed-up grid and talking points aplenty ahead of today’s Grand Prix, which is live on Sky Sports F1 at 6pm, with build-up from 4.30pm.

Perez will head the field from pole position for the first time in his experienced career – with 214 race starts to his name – today after a superb lap to edge out favourite Charles Leclerc, who had topped all practice sessions.

Carlos Sainz starts third ahead of world champion Max Verstappen, with Red Bull and Ferrari set to battle for the top positions again in the second race of F1 2022.

“We have been focusing more on the race,” admitted Perez, who hailed the lap that beat Bahrain GP winner Leclerc by two hundredths of a second as one of the best in his life.

Anthony Davidson compares Lewis Hamilton's Q1 lap with team-mate George Russell's, following the seven-time world champion's shock exit

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Anthony Davidson compares Lewis Hamilton’s Q1 lap with team-mate George Russell’s, following the seven-time world champion’s shock exit

Anthony Davidson compares Lewis Hamilton’s Q1 lap with team-mate George Russell’s, following the seven-time world champion’s shock exit

“Hopefully that pays us back and we can dominate.”

Absent from the top two rows from the grid are Mercedes, and while George Russell starts a respectable sixth given the world champions’ struggles, team-mate Hamilton will line up way down in 14th.

Even that is better than it could have been; Hamilton is set to rise two positions due to Mick Schumacher’s absence following his high-speed crash and Daniel Ricciardo’s grid penalty for blocking Esteban Ocon.

“I don’t what I’m going to be able to do… I’m a long way back,” said Hamilton, who also admitted he was considering changing his Mercedes set-up and starting from the pit-lane due to his “undriveable” W13.

Anthony Davidson compares the final qualifying laps of Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc as the Mexican claimed his first pole

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Anthony Davidson compares the final qualifying laps of Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc as the Mexican claimed his first pole

Anthony Davidson compares the final qualifying laps of Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc as the Mexican claimed his first pole

Saudi Arabian GP: Provisional grid
1) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
2) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
3) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
4) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
5) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
6) George Russell, Mercedes
7) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
8) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
9) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
10) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
11) Lando Norris, McLaren
12) Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo
13) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
14) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
15) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren*
16) Alex Albon, Williams
17) Nico Hulkenberg, Aston Martin
18) Nicholas Latifi, Williams
19) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
*three-place grid penalty

Drivers prepare for F1’s ‘most dangerous’ circuit

This is both the second race of F1 2022 and the second race at the Corniche circuit, which made its debut last November. The track, winding along the Jeddah coast, is the sport’s fastest street track, with 27 corners, most of which high-speed, littered with danger as concrete walls dominate a drivers’ eyeline.

There was plenty of drama in last year’s race, with two red flags and many crashes, while Saturday’s qualifying brought more peril with two huge crashes for Nicholas Latifi and Schumacher.

Schumacher was airlifted to hospital but says he was unharmed. Still, it was a reminder of the danger and with 19 cars speeding around the track in close proximity in the race, more chaos is expected.

Mick Schumacher had a heavy crash in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but fortunately the Haas driver did not suffer any injuries as a result

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Mick Schumacher had a heavy crash in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but fortunately the Haas driver did not suffer any injuries as a result

Mick Schumacher had a heavy crash in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but fortunately the Haas driver did not suffer any injuries as a result

“I think it’s definitely the most dangerous place in the calendar,” said Perez. “There’s no secret about it.

“If you get it wrong, it can be a huge accident.”

Hamilton called Schumacher’s crash “terrifying”, while Leclerc added: “it is a very challenging place.

“It is one of the reasons why I like this track but I still believe that there are things that we can do to improve some places. The first sector is obviously extremely high speed and it can be quite, well, very tricky in some places, as we’ve seen with Mick now so maybe there are few things that we can change for the future.”

“I can’t hide also the excitement that I have driving on this track, especially on a qualifying lap. It feels amazing. But yeah, safety comes first and maybe we can do something more there.”

Sainz, like his team-mate, was in “two minds”.

Stefano Domenicali says F1 being in Saudi Arabia is having a positive impact but that you can't change cultures in the blink of an eye

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Stefano Domenicali says F1 being in Saudi Arabia is having a positive impact but that you can’t change cultures in the blink of an eye

Stefano Domenicali says F1 being in Saudi Arabia is having a positive impact but that you can’t change cultures in the blink of an eye

“I love the adrenaline rush that our qualifying lap gives you around here,” he stated.

“But at the same time, you know that here if you crash it probably hurts a bit more than in any other place in the calendar because the walls are closer and the speed is higher.

“Is it really worth it? Having that huge accident when you can maybe hopefully push the walls a bit more further out and gives us a bit more space to slow down the car if we lose it like Mick lost it today. It’s a discussion that we need to have because it’s probably a bit on the limit. And it’s exciting for Formula 1. It’s exciting for us, but it’s also on the limit.”

Live Saudi Arabian GP schedule on Sky Sports F1

Sunday, March 27
2.30pm: Formula 2 Feature Race
4.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Saudi Arabia*
6pm: THE SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX
8pm: Chequered Flag: Saudi Arabia*
9.30pm: Saudi Arabian GP Highlights