Formula 1

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – What the Drivers Said after Qualifying – Part 1

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JEDDAH STREET CIRCUIT, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Pole man Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, celebrates on arrival in Parc Ferme after Qualifying during the Saudi Arabian GP at Jeddah Street Circuit on Friday March 08, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Sutton / LAT Images)

The second Qualifying session of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season is in the books, and for the second consecutive weekend, it was Max Verstappen and Oracle Red Bull Racing who dominated the session to take pole position, the thirty-fourth of his illustrious career.

Charles Leclerc will join him on the front row, while Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso will line-up on row two.  All eyes, of course, were on Oliver Bearman, a late replacement for the ailing Carlos Sainz Jr. at Scuderia Ferrari, and the young Briton put in a superb performance with very limited running to place just outside the top ten.

Read what the top ten in Qualifying at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit had to say after Qualifying and ahead of Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

#1 – Max Verstappen – Oracle Red Bull Racing

“I enjoyed the day a lot. The car was really nice to drive and it was a good improvement from yesterday. We improved the car a little bit overnight and came out with a great set up which allowed me to attack the high speed corners and improve the one lap performance.

“Around this track, it really depends on your confidence level and how much you can go to your limit and today I felt very comfortable with the car. The whole of qualifying has been going very well, especially Q2 and my first lap in Q3.

“I am proud of today and am looking forward to the race tomorrow. As a Team we are happy with our car and the race pace and we really found our stride today. It has been a great job from the whole Team.”

#16 – Charles Leclerc – Scuderia Ferrari

“I’m not fully satisfied with qualifying today and we will work on understanding the feeling I had during the sessions to be able to get all the potential out of the car in the future.

“I wish Carlos all the best for a speedy recovery and congratulations to Ollie, who is extremely talented and he showed it today on his first Formula 1 qualifying. He’s done a lot of sim work which makes me happy to see that the prep he did back at the factory paid off as he was well prepared and extremely impressive today.

“I think between the two of us, we can bring home plenty of points tomorrow.”

Charles Leclerc will start on the front row – Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images

#11 – Sergio Perez – Oracle Red Bull Racing

“It would have been nice to have locked out the front row but I think we are in a good position to fight tomorrow. I felt like we took a back from practice, we had a positive Thursday but qualifying was not the same case unfortunately.

“The whole day hasn’t been as good as yesterday, I didn’t get the best out of the tyre preparation, in combination with the balance. So, we have to understand and review why that was but what we did to the car should hopefully mean we are stronger in the race.

“It’s important to get past Charles as soon as possible and be in the mix, especially with the DRS zones I think it is going to be important to make progress early. I believe we have stronger race pace than Ferrari but degradation can kick in and change things very quickly.

“It is always a challenge here but you can overtake and race and there is a long way ahead of us.”

#14 – Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team

“It’s a nice surprise again to have a strong Qualifying in Jeddah. We are very competitive in one lap and our car is responding very well in Qualifying. I enjoyed every lap out there tonight.

“On my final push lap in Q3 I managed to take a tow from Lewis [Hamilton] onto the main straight but maybe I lost a tenth of a second into Turn 1, so in the end it balanced out over the lap. It’s a good result for Aston Martin but the real test is tomorrow.

“We have our feet on the ground and we will see where we are with our race pace.” 

Fernando Alonso was excellent again in Qualifying and will start fourth – Credit: Zak Mauger / LAT Images

#81 – Oscar Piastri – McLaren F1 Team

“P5. I think that was probably the most we could have got out of it, but it was a decent session and the car felt pretty good. All-in-all, we can be pretty happy with that. We definitely still have some things to improve with the car but I think that was a pretty solid session, minus a little tap of the wall in Q1.

“Going into tomorrow, I think we’re in a good position and hopefully we can move forward. Congratulations to Ollie Bearman on his efforts today as well, it was impressive to see him in Q2 having only hopped in the car this morning.” 

#4 – Lando Norris – McLaren F1 Team

“A good day. I don’t think we could have asked for much more as a team, so I’m happy. I think we got the most out of the car. We went 4-2-1 with the tyres, which put us at a disadvantage in qualifying with one fewer set of tyres.

“That made our life a little bit trickier today, but we knew that, we knew what to expect, and we hope it will pay us back tomorrow. I’m very happy and I think we maximised today.

“Well done to Ollie Bearman, that’s a really impressive result given he didn’t know he’d be driving an F1 car today, he definitely seems to like this circuit. Best wishes to Carlos too, hopefully he’ll have a speedy recovery.” 

Lando Norris will start sixth for McLaren – Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images

#63 – George Russell – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

“Unfortunately I was unable to complete my last lap on the new tyres. I made a mistake, which is on me, and that was that. My quickest lap therefore was on the used tyres. It was a strong one but if I had finished my final effort, I think we may have been fighting for P4 or even higher.

“It is so tight out there and we saw last week that if you don’t get everything together, then you can lose several positions. We are still learning about this car; we were P1 and P2 in practice in Bahrain and P2 here again yesterday. We slipped back today but there is potential there. It’s a long season so we will be looking to understand more about the platform we have and deliver more consistently.

“I am confident that we’ve got good race pace for tomorrow. We look quick in a straight-line, which is a bonus. It’s tricky to follow here though and it should be a simple one-stop with the degradation. We need to make a good start and see what we can do from there.”

#44 – Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

“It was a very difficult day today. I was much happier in FP3, and the car was feeling much better than on Thursday. It was a real improvement, and I had a lot more confidence in the car. Unfortunately in qualifying, it felt similar to yesterday and I didn’t have the stability from the car that I needed. It was a struggle, and we were losing out particularly in the high-speed first sector.

“Our race pace is typically better than our qualifying pace. We have also been quick in a straight-line so hopefully that helps us. It will be difficult, but we will be giving it everything we’ve got to progress forward tomorrow. If we can do so, that would be great.”

Lewis Hamilton has struggled all weekend in Saudi Arabia – Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images

#22 – Yuki Tsunoda – Visa CashApp RB

“We did it! I’m very happy today. The team did a fantastic job of giving me a nice car, and I enjoyed it, so a huge thanks to everyone. We were expecting it to be difficult, but I focused on myself to extract as much performance from the car as possible, and I’m pleased I was able to put it all together.

“It’s the first Q3 of the year and it’s given us extra confidence for the future. I enjoyed today a lot, but tomorrow won’t be easy, so we now focus on the race. We have a lot of experienced people, and I’m confident we can maximise our package and score some points.”

#18 – Lance Stroll – Aston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team

“Q1 was very good – the car felt really positive. But then I think we might have had some issues in Q3 – we need to investigate it. The car felt a bit tricky and then I lost some time in the final sector – which is basically just straights – on my last Q3 lap.

“We need to look into why we weren’t able to go any quicker after Q1 – we were much better at the start of Qualifying than at the end. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow – it’s going to be a long race, with a lot of degradation, so there will definitely be some opportunities.” 

Lance Stroll will start tenth on the grid – Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images
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