Verstappen wary of early chaos in Jeddah GP
By Mat Coch
Sunday 19th March, 2023 - 6:02am
Max Verstappen is wary of the potential for early chaos in Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after exiting qualifying early with a driveshaft issue.
The Dutchman will line up 15th for the race as a result of the failure that saw him climb from his car midway through Qualifying 2.
His Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez went on to claim pole position from Charles Leclerc, who will fall to 12th courtesy of a grid penalty for a new Control Electronics unit on his Ferrari.
“The driveshaft just broke, so that’s really unfortunate,” Verstappen said following his early exit.
“And also something I don’t understand because we never really had any issues with that so far this year.
“But it did happen. We’ll analyse everything and try to understand how that happened.”
Verstappen had dominated the weekend to that point.
He’d topped all three practice sessions and was the only driver into the 1:28 bracket in Qualifying 1.
The two-time world champion will start the race buried in the pack but with a car many consider the class of the field.
It is therefore expected that he’ll be able to move forward in the race.
“The car has been really quick all weekend,” Verstappen said.
“Every time also I went out the car has been working really well, I felt comfortable. I’m sure we can move forward.
“I do think that trying to win the race is a bit of a stretch because of the management that needs to happen on the tyres,” he added.
“Everyone just seems to drive to a certain pace but we’ll try to recover as much as we can.”
While suggesting victory is perhaps a bridge too far, Verstappen didn’t rule out the podium when a top-three finish was put to him by Speedcafe.
“If everything works well on the first lap, I think we can move quite far forward,” he reasoned.
“Have to wait and see how far we can reach.
“Starting around that spot is normally a bit of chaos,” he added.
“It’s not like some places, you can’t just run off the track to avoid things because there is a wall.
“It’s definitely I think a little bit more tricky than a Lap 1 in Spa, for example.”
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix begins at 20:00 local time on Sunday (04:00 AEDT Monday).
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