Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Qualifying RecapMarch 18, 2023
MoneyGram Haas F1 Team drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen qualified 11th and 13th respectively for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Round 2 of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Hulkenberg, however, moves up to 10th on the grid for Sunday’s race after second-place qualifier, Charles Leclerc of Scuderia Ferrari, takes a 10-place grid penalty.
Both Hulkenberg and Magnussen safely navigated their respective VF-23s through Q1 in qualifying. Armed with two sets of Pirelli P Zero Red soft tires, both drivers set their fastest lap on their second sets as track conditions continued to improve around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in the evening. Hulkenberg claimed P7 with a tour of 1:29.547 while Magnussen joined his teammate in Q2 with his lap of 1:29.744 landing P13 on the timesheet.
Q2 saw the potential of the VF-23 demonstrated but not without some hurdles. Hulkenberg saw an early lap of 1:29.468 deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 27. The German bounced back on a new set of softs to record a 1:29.451 lap – good for P11 at the checkered but not quite enough to book a second successive Q3 slot in qualifying. Magnussen, who was battling a gearbox problem and braking issues, ended his day P13 with an official best lap of 1:29.634 – the Dane having had his second faster run of 1:29.517 deleted, also for track limits at Turn 27.
Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez claimed pole position in Q3 for the second year running – the Mexican banking a 1:28.265 lap to pip Leclerc and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso to the top spot.
“It was less than two tenths, and we had some issues on the car so it’s a shame when it’s so tight. I think it was a fast car today and Q3 was there but better luck next time. Our problem was brakes related and the car also wouldn’t downshift properly. We’re not in a horrible position for tomorrow so let’s give it a good one.”
“It’s always so tight, there are very fine margins. My first lap time got deleted and that obviously took the banker away, so Q3 might’ve been possible, but small things make a difference. Moving up to P10 isn’t bad and we can definitely race from there, so we’ll give it our all tomorrow. I’m confident we have decent pace in the midfield pack.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal:
We’re pretty happy with our qualifying result even if it could be a little bit better. It’s all theoretical but we could get two cars into Q3 – I think we have the performance – but Q2 wasn’t flawless. Kevin had problems with his gear shifting and the gearbox, and brake issues. Nico also had a bit of a brake issue, and we were a little bit on the backfoot with timings because of the weighbridge and in the end, we didn’t make it. The field is so tight but it shows that the car is there and tomorrow we will start P10 and P13, which is a good position to score points from – I can see the progress we’re making.”
Event: Qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Saturday March 18
Location: Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah
Layout: 6.175-kilometer (3.836-mile), 27-turn circuit
Air Temps: 27 degrees Celsius (80.6 degrees Fahrenheit)
Track Temps: 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 degrees Fahrenheit)
Team Result: Nico Hulkenberg qualified 11th, Kevin Magnussen qualified 13th
Notes: Hulkenberg starts P10 after Leclerc (P2 – Scuderia Ferrari) takes 10-Place Grid Penalty
Free Practice 3 (FP3) Rundown:
Hulkenberg: 13th overall (1:29.933), 19 laps completed
Magnussen: 17th overall (1:30.131), 15 laps completed
Fastest: Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing (1:28.485)
Q1 Qualifying: 18-mins with all 20 Drivers – Top 15 Advance to Q2
Hulkenberg: 7th overall (1:29.547) – Advanced to Q2
Magnussen: 13th overall (1:29.744) – Advanced to Q2
Fastest: Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing (1:28.761)
Q2 Qualifying: 15-mins – Top 10 Advance to Q3
Hulkenberg: 11th overall (1:29.451)
Magnussen: 13th overall (1:29.634)
Fastest: Sergio Perez of Red Bull Racing (1:28.635)
Q3 Qualifying: 12-mins – Top 10 Drivers
Pole Winner: Sergio Perez of Red Bull Racing (1:28.265)