Sergio Perez has stormed to pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with his last Q3 run just enough to pip the two Ferrari drivers and ensure that Red Bull prevented a front-row lock-out for the Scuderia.
Ferrari had looked on for the top two positions as the session reached its climax, with Carlos Sainz putting in the fastest time during the first runs in Q3. Sainz clocked a 1:28.402 to edge out teammate Charles Leclerc by just 0.044 seconds, with Perez slotting into third place.
Max Verstappen could only manage sixth place after his first run, with the reigning World Champion then getting on the radio to complain about a lack of grip as he did two warm-up laps on his Soft tyres.
With Sainz failing to improve on his second run, Leclerc snatched away provisional pole from his teammate to make it a Ferrari 1-2.
As Verstappen struggled to find pace, all looked set for the Italian team to lock out the front row until Perez put in a tremendous final sector on his last flying lap. Finding two-tenths of a second, the Mexican crossed the line to steal pole from Leclerc.
Sainz had to settle for third, while Verstappen could only manage the fourth-best time on his second flying run.
Esteban Ocon was fifth for Alpine, while George Russell was the best-placed Mercedes as he claimed sixth place – in stark contrast to the fortunes of Lewis Hamilton, who was knocked out in Q1.
Fernando Alonso finished seventh in the second Alpine, while Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas continued his strong weekend with eighth place. Pierre Gasly was ninth for AlphaTauri, with Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top 10 for Haas.
Result Qualification - Saudi Arabian
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The second part of qualifying was marred by a huge crash for Haas' Mick Schumacher, with the German driver losing control of his car at Turn 12 and smashing into the concrete barriers.
He has been airlifted to a nearby hospital for precautionary checks, while the team have confirmed that he was conscious and talking with his mother prior to his departure.
The crash resulted in an hour-long delay while the circuit was cleaned up, with Schumacher only demoted out of the top 10 when the session resumed with just four minutes of track time remaining.
Sainz and Leclerc made it a Ferrari 1-2, ahead of Perez and Verstappen, with all covered by a quarter of a second.
With Schumacher in the bottom five, the other drivers eliminated were McLaren's Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu and Aston Martin's Lance Stroll.
The first part of qualifying had only just started when the red flags were shown after six minutes, due to Williams' Nicholas Latifi sliding off into the barriers at Turn 13.
Once it resumed, Verstappen took over at the front to usurp the two Haas drivers. But the Red Bull driver was quickly beaten by both Ferraris, with Sainz dipping below the 1:29 mark to pip Leclerc to the top.
In a shocking turn of events, Hamilton was knocked out in the first part of qualifying. With no apparent mechanical issue on his W13, the seven-time World Champion struggled for pace throughout the 18-minute session, his best time some seven-tenths of a second away from Russell.
Hamilton set a personal best on his final lap, with a 1:30.343, to move into 15th place and out of the elimination zone. However, Stroll crossed the line seconds later to knock Hamilton back down to 16th and out of Q1.
The last time Hamilton was eliminated in Q1 was at the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix, when he crashed out.
The other drivers knocked out were Williams' Alex Albon and Aston Martin's Nico Hulkenberg in 17th and 18th, while Latifi wound up in 19th and AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda was plum last after a mechanical issue on his car prevented him from setting a time.
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