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Leclerc and Sainz admit Ferrari were helpless to prevent Perez pole

The two Ferrari drivers have moved to congratulate Sergio Perez after he became the first Mexican to claim a pole position in Formula 1.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have admitted that they were both happy with their final Q3 laps during qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, right up until Sergio Perez snatched pole position. The two Ferrari drivers crossed the line to claim a provisional 1-2 in the final moments of qualifying at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, impressed with their own laps. But then Red Bull rival Perez arrived seconds later to spoil the party, putting in a blistering-hot lap time of 1:28.200. That lap was close to three-tenths of a second faster than his World Champion teammate, Max Verstappen, but only two-hundredths of a second faster than Leclerc, who has admitted that he did all he could.

Leclerc says lap felt good as he applauds Perez

"The lap felt good, honestly; I am very happy with the lap," admitted Leclerc. The Monegasque traded places with his teammate at the top of the timing tower all session long, but Perez and Red Bull had the last laugh. "All through qualifying it was just about keeping it on track and not doing any mistakes, which would have been very costly," continued Leclerc. "Then in Q3, on the second lap, I just went for it and I more or less put everything together. "There's a bit here and there [that could have been improved], but I definitely did not expect Checo to come with that lap time, so congratulations to him – I'm pretty sure Perez did an incredible job today. "It's another day tomorrow and hopefully we'll have a good start."

Sainz predicts an exciting race day in Jeddah

Perez may be set to start tomorrow's race at the front, but he will do so with a sparkling-red Ferrari in each of his rear-view mirrors. And that is why Sainz, who will start third, is expecting an encounter packed full of drama, as two teams look to outsmart each other to take the chequered flag first. "The lap for P3 was pretty good," said Sainz, speaking moments after qualifying. "It was on a used tyre, because the used tyre, for some reason this weekend, is giving me a better feeling. "The new tyre, for me, is very tricky to handle and, when I went to new [tyres] for the last [run] of Q3, I just didn't have any rear grip and I struggled. "For a used tyre, it wasn't that bad, but Checo and Charles pipped me by a little – but it's still okay." Looking to the race, he added: "It's going to be exciting. All four cars are mixed up between the Ferrari and the Red Bull, so we will play around, I think, with each other, with strategy and passes, which should be an exciting race."

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