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Verstappen was reminded of 2021 Saudi lap wipeout with latest F1 pole

Max Verstappen reckons his lap to secure pole position for Formula 1’s 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was reminiscent of his famous, failed 2021 qualifying effort when he crashed out.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20 in the pit lane

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Verstappen failed to improve with his second Q3 run, dropping two tenths, but he could still rely on an earlier 1m27.472s flying lap to land top spot over Ferrari racer Charles Leclerc and Red Bull RB20 team-mate Sergio Perez.

The reigning three-time F1 world champion said that his first and fastest run had put him in mind of 2021, when he wiped out at the final corner of the Jeddah street circuit by clipping the outside wall.

Despite crashing, that lap remains revered by many as Verstappen was fastest in the first two sectors ahead of Mercedes racer Lewis Hamilton, with Saudi marking the penultimate round of their bitter title fight.

Discussing his 2024 pole effort, Verstappen said: “We improved the car a little bit overnight. That gave me a bit more confidence to attack the high-speed corners.

“Around here, of course, it depends a lot on your confidence, how much you can go to the limit. Today I felt very comfortable with the car.

“Throughout qualifying, it's pretty crazy how fast you go around here. I think in my first lap in Q3, I was very happy with how I did the lap.

“It felt almost a bit like the failed ’21 lap. But, of course, making the last corner!

“It was very good. I had a lot of fun. The car was, behaving really well.”

Verstappen hit the wall at the final corner in 2021 when trying to snatch pole away from Hamilton in Q3

Verstappen hit the wall at the final corner in 2021 when trying to snatch pole away from Hamilton in Q3

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Leclerc ended up 0.319s behind his Red Bull rival, while Perez was 0.335s slower than Verstappen.

The Mexican admitted that even if he had perfected his final lap, he still could not have matched Verstappen but accepted that a front-row start did go begging.

The Jeddah polesitter in 2022 and 2023 reflected: “Didn't get much of an improvement on the final lap, which I think is where we missed the front row.

“But, overall, I think Max has done a tremendous lap. I think, that was not possible for me today, but I think being on the front-row was achievable.”

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