Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Qualifying - LIVE!
Max Verstappen crashed into the wall in the final turn of his final run on Formula One’s newest circuit, handing the front row for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
Hamilton, the seven-time world champion, jumped to the top of the qualifying board with about 80 seconds remaining in Saturday’s session. Valtteri Bottas, his Mercedes teammate, then moved to second.
It gave the current championship leader one final lap around the high-speed course to try to claim pole.
The Dutchman went wide in the second turn and nearly brushed the wall, but held it together and was well on course to snatch pole with a stunning lap. But he locked up his front wheel on the final corner and hit the wall, bringing an end to the session and his hopes of pole.
He will start third, with Mercedes landing a potentially crucial blow in both title races by taking the front-row.
Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Qualifying latest news
Hamilton takes pole as Verstappen crashes
Q2: Sainz out after chaotic session
Q1: Vettel and Stroll knocked out
Practice results: Verstappen edges final session
Hamilton summoned to stewards
How crucial could this prove to be...
19:00 , Matt Verri
Hamilton on the charge...
18:54 , Matt Verri
After a stunning drive to take victory from tenth on the grid in Brazil, Hamilton backed it up in Qatar as he continued his charge at the world championship.
He shows no signs of letting up...
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 4, 2021
18:36 , Matt Verri
“I don’t really know what happened. I locked up, tried to keep the car on the track finish the lap but I clipped the rear and had to stop.
“P3 is a bit disappointing but nevertheless, it shows that the car is quick and let’s see what we can do in the race.”
Bottas a team player...
18:33 , Matt Verri
Bottas is leaving Mercedes after next week’s race in Abu Dhabi, but he is doing everything he can to help them before he does.
“Of course, I want to get a race win but first thing’s first we need to focus on the team championship,” Bottas said.
“Lewis is still fighting for the title, I’m not, so I’ll do my best with whatever I can and at the same time I’ll try to enjoy.”
18:30 , Matt Verri
“Wow. What a tough track this is. Incredibly technical and complex. It’s amazing what they have built, the speed, it’s phenomenal.
“We were quick through practice but particularly FP3 and qualifying, we were struggling with the pace and the tyres, so for us to get a one-two, really proud of Valtteri and the team. It’s a great result.
“This was the goal. We have worked so hard through simulations and set-up and the collaboration with Valtteri - he’s the best team-mate there has ever been in this sport. We’ve worked together to get where we need to be.
“Given where we were, I’m grateful for what we have got today.”
Where it all went wrong for Red Bull...
18:18 , Matt Verri
Lewis Hamilton will take the pole position for tomorrow's #SaudiArabianGP with Valterri Bottas second and Max Verstappen third after the Red Bull driver hit the wall at the very last corner in Qualifying! ⬇️💥pic.twitter.com/WvBcB9JS6I
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) December 4, 2021
18:09 , Matt Verri
That’s Hamilton’s fifth pole of 2021, and it’s the most important one of the season. Could be huge in the title battle.
18:05 , Matt Verri
Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Gasly, Norris, Tsunoda, Ocon, Giovinazzi. That’s how it finishes.
Mercedes have control of the front-row tomorrow. Brilliant evening for them.
18:03 , Matt Verri
Incredible drama. The Dutchman put everything into that lap, and he was a corner away from taking pole.
But he locked his front wheel on the way into the final corner, and he slams into the wall. That could have caused damage to the car, could have a major impact on tomorrow’s race. And the championship.
LEWIS HAMILTON IS ON POLE.
18:01 , Matt Verri
Verstappen was so close to hitting the wall, he’s pushing so hard. All on this lap, and he is absolutely flying.
He’s surely going to take pole.... NO!! VERSTAPPEN HITS THE WALL!
The final corner, and he has hit the wall. Unbelievable.
17:59 , Matt Verri
Q3 1 min: Hamilton across the line... GOES FASTEST. Provisional pole for him. 1:27.511. Great lap under pressure.
Over to you, Mr Verstappen.
17:58 , Matt Verri
Q3 2 mins: Hamilton just 0.052 seconds behind Verstappen in the first sector. Looks much, much better from Mercedes.
He fuelled for the whole session, so he should get quicker.
17:57 , Matt Verri
Q3 3 mins: So, it’s Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton, Perez, Norris as things stand. We’ll see what the finals runs have in store.
Ignore that, Gasly goes fourth fastest!
17:56 , Matt Verri
Q3 5 mins: Bottas improves, but he’s still 0.321 back of the Dutchman.
Verstappen says he needs a tow, wants some more help from Perez.
17:55 , Matt Verri
Q3 6 mins: Brilliant from Verstappen, 1:27.653. He’s absolutely roared past the times set by the Mercedes drivers.
Hamilton has nearly four tenths to make up.
17:54 , Matt Verri
Q3 7 mins: Hamilton straight back into another lap then, and he’s up on Bottas after the middle sector.
It’s a 1:28.035 for Hamilton, and he’s fastest. For now though, and Verstappen is on a quick lap...
17:52 , Matt Verri
Q3 9 mins: The Brit runs wide though, and he has to abandon the lap. Plan to get out early and put in a good lap has not worked for Hamilton at all.
Bottas crosses the line first. 1:28.143 to start the session. We’ve seen faster than that in the earlier session.
17:51 , Matt Verri
Q3 10 mins: Hamilton drops back behind Bottas, with both Mercedes out on track early. Only five of the ten cars are out.
17:49 , Matt Verri
Here we go then. Time for Q3, and the battle for pole. The last 45 minutes tells us anything could happen!
17:48 , Matt Verri
Not a good Q2 for Sainz at all. Ran wide on his first run, then clipped the rear wing on the barrier next time, and narrowly avoided a big hit on his final lap.
He says he didn’t feel the contact with the barrier, but the rear wing was definitely damaged.
17:43 , Matt Verri
Hamilton, Perez, Verstappen, Bottas, Tsunoda, Gasly, Norris, Leclerc, Ocon, Giovinazzi the top 10.
Bottas and Raikkonen made slight contact right at the end of the session, luckily avoided anything serious. Giovinazzi hits the wall, and that wasn’t a soft impact.
17:41 , Matt Verri
Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Alonso, Russell and Sainz are out in Q2.
Sainz in 15th, but he’ll just be happy he avoided a big crash during that session.
17:40 , Matt Verri
Q2 1 min: Verstappen trying out the soft tyres, even though he’s already through. Clearly trying those out for Q3.
Sainz goes off again, and once again just about manages to avoid the barrier.
Hamilton goes fastest, 1:27.712.
17:38 , Matt Verri
Q2 3 mins: Lando Norris is down in 12th, and needs to find a good lap if he wants to see Q3. The McLaren driver does improve, seventh fastest.
Perez, Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton the top four as it stands. Norris complaining that he was held up by Perez.
17:36 , Matt Verri
Q2 5 mins: Better lap this time from Hamilton, just over a tenth off the pace of Verstappen. Gets himself ahead of Perez.
The Mexican crosses the line now, can he go faster? YES. Perez goes fastest, pipping his teammate.
17:34 , Matt Verri
Q2 7 mins: Sainz very nearly goes into the wall, but just about avoids a crash. Rear wing might have touched the barrier though, and it looks damaged.
17:32 , Matt Verri
Q2 8 mins: Bottas into second, within three tenths of Verstappen. Perez then beats that, and it’s Red Bull first and second.
Hamilton: “I don’t know what we’re doing, I have no grip out here.” Not great signs for Mercedes.
17:31 , Matt Verri
Q2 9 mins: Leclerc gets nearest to Verstappen of anyone so far in the session, and he’s still nearly seven tenths off the pace of the Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton crosses the line... 1:28.715. Into third, behind Verstappen and Leclerc.
17:29 , Matt Verri
Q2 12 mins: Verstappen out nicely and early once again. 1:27.953. Beats his teammate Perez by nearly a full second. That’s quite the statement.
17:26 , Matt Verri
Q2 14 mins: Bottas just about was ready to go for Q1, and his team have got him ready for Q2. He will not be denied... he’s out on track already.
17:24 , Matt Verri
It’s a reprimand for Hamilton for his incident in practice with Mazepin. Avoids serious punishment. Mercedes have been fined €25,000 though, for not informing their man of the danger soon enough.
17:21 , Matt Verri
Latifi, Vettel, Stroll, Schumacher and Mazepin are out in Q1. Aston Martin with a terrible qualifying session.
Alonso and Russell scrape through.
17:20 , Matt Verri
PER, BOT, RIC, SAI, VER, LEC, NOR, GAS, HAM, TSU, OCO, RAI, GIO, RUS, ALO. That’s your top 15 from Q1.
17:19 , Matt Verri
Bottas says he’s ‘misfiring’ and has to come into the pits. He slows down, and Verstappen is slowed down by about six cars who have slowed down in front of him. Messy end to the session, with Bottas now having stopped due to his engine. He’s made it to the pit lane though.
17:16 , Matt Verri
Q1 2 mins: Alonso on a new set of soft tyres, but he’s only 14th. In danger of not making it through.
Perez goes fastest, just ahead of Bottas. Good pace from the Mexican.
17:15 , Matt Verri
Q1 3 mins: George Russell dropping out as things stand. Can he get himself back into the top 15?
Just. Into 15th, but you’d be surprised if that was quick enough to reach Q2.
17:13 , Matt Verri
Q1 5 mins: Everyone having a go at the top of the leaderboard. Bottas now leads the way. He’s just over two tenths up on the Red Bull of Verstappen.
17:12 , Matt Verri
Q1 6 mins: Verstappen on used tires... goes fastest. 1:28.285. Perez crosses the line just behind his teammate, but he can only go fourth fastest.
17:11 , Matt Verri
Q1 7 mins: Looks like all the cars will be running again. Bit of a lull now, with Sainz still fastest after his 1:28.3.
Verstappen down in seventh, Perez in 12th. Work to do for Red Bull.
17:10 , Matt Verri
Q1 8 mins: This track is getting faster and faster already. Nobody safe after a run of quick laps from loads of cars.
Norris and Ricciardo go third and fourth for McLaren. Bottas into second, just 0.060 off Hamilton.
But now Sainz is fastest, Ferrari will be delighted with that lap.
17:08 , Matt Verri
Q1 10 mins: Hamilton goes fastest, brilliant lap. 1:28.466. That puts him two tenths faster than Verstappen. Good early signs for Mercedes.
Giovinazzi with a great lap in the Alfa Romeo, and he goes fourth fastest.
17:07 , Matt Verri
Q1 11 mins: Sergio Perez goes second fastest, just under four tenths off the pace of his teammate.
Verstappen, Perez, Norris, Sainz, Bottas the five quickest in the early stages. Hamilton on a quick lap though...
17:06 , Matt Verri
Q1 12 mins: Hamilton off at turn one on his first flying lap, so he’ll have to wait to challenge that Verstappen time.
It was a difficult third practice session for the Brit, and this hasn’t started much better.
17:05 , Matt Verri
Q1 13 mins: Norris the fastest early on, just ahead of Ocon.
That is until Max Verstappen posts his first time... 1:28.659. Half a second clear of the rest of the field.
17:03 , Matt Verri
Q1 15 mins: Mercedes have done brilliantly to get Bottas out on track so quickly. Car was in pieces about 10 minutes ago.
All 20 cars are on the track, trying to find themselves a bit of space.
17:02 , Matt Verri
Q1 16 mins: Such a quick street circuit, that it’s no surprise to see so many cars wanting to post a time early. Don’t want to be caught out by yellow flags later in the session.
17:00 , Matt Verri
It’s time for the first ever qualifying session at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix. Could be a potentially pivotal hour in the title race.
Ten cars lining up, wanting to get straight out onto the track.
16:52 , Matt Verri
Just under ten minutes to go until Q1 gets underway. The chaos will soon be upon us.
Footage of the Mercedes garage shows that Bottas’ car is still in pieces, as they replace the power unit. Cutting it very fine...
16:46 , Matt Verri
No further action against Hamilton for not slowing under double yellow flags. One down, one to go.
Remains to be seen what they decide on the incident where he nearly came together with Mazepin earlier today in practice.
Hamilton on racing in Saudi Arabia
16:37 , Matt Verri
The British driver made his views clear earlier in the week when asked about F1 going to Saudi Arabia.
“Do I feel comfortable here? I wouldn’t say that I do,” Hamilton said.
“But it’s not my choice to be here. The sport has taken the choice to be here.
“I will wear [helmet with Progress Pride flag] again here and in the next race. If anyone wants to take time to read what the law is for the LGBT+ community, it is pretty terrifying.”
What Verstappen needs this weekend
16:29 , Matt Verri
The Dutchman can secure his first world championship if things go his way in Saudi Arabia.
For example, if Verstappen finishes first and claims the fastest lap point, he will win the championship if Hamilton finishes sixth or lower.
Read about the full permutations right here.
Bottas power unit change
16:19 , Matt Verri
Valtteri Bottas had a fuel leak in FP3, which means he will have to change the power unit for qualifying. Bottas will use another from his pool, so won’t need to take a penalty.
Hamilton is out of the stewards office, can now get back to focusing on qualifying in 40 minutes.
Here is Hamilton’s incident with Mazepin
16:14 , Matt Verri
Very nearly a huge crash between Hamilton and Mazepin in practice. Afterwards, the Mercedes driver told his team: “You didn’t tell me man. You didn’t tell me he was coming.”
Well, this is intriguing!
Max Verstappen turns the tables on 🔴 tyres to set the pace ahead of Saturday evening's crucial qualifying hour.
Lewis Hamilton second quickest & involved in two near-misses.#SkyF1 | #F1 | #SaudiArabianGP 🇸🇦
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) December 4, 2021
Hamilton summoned to the stewards
16:09 , Matt Verri
As ever, there’s always drama going on off the track as well. Lewis Hamilton has been called to the stewards, and he has two charges facing him.
The first, for not respecting double waved yellow flags in final practice. Verstappen was given a five-place penalty for that last race, but his incident occurred in qualifying rather than practice.
He has also been summoned for impeding Haas’ Nikita Mazepin. Plenty going on!
16:05 , Matt Verri
Lewis Hamilton was fastest yesterday in practice, as he led the way with teammate Valtteri Bottas just behind him.
But in the final practice session earlier today, it was Max Verstappen who had the edge. He was 0.214s faster than the British driver, and Red Bull will hope he can take that pace into qualifying. As has been the case for much of the season, the two of them were well clear of the rest of the field.
How to watch Qualifying
15:59 , Matt Verri
Qualifying will be shown live on Sky Sports F1 - coverage starts in a few minutes time, with Q1 beginning in just over an hour.
15:47 , Matt Verri
Hello and welcome to Standard Sport’s LIVE coverage of qualifying at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.
It’s a big afternoon in the F1 title race. Lewis Hamilton trails Max Verstappen by eight points in the title race, and knows the Red Bull driver could seal the world championship this weekend.
Both will be desperate to be on pole tomorrow afternoon. We’ll have all the latest updates and build-up, ahead of qualifying getting underway at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit at 5pm GMT. Stay tuned!