And welcome, once again, to our live Formula One coverage. This afternoon we have the qualifying session for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. It is the third time in roughly 18 months that a grand prix has been held here, after its debut towards the end of the 2021 season.
So far we’ve had two memorable races, and Max Verstappen has been heavily involved in both of them. In 2021 it was a memorable and slightly controversial duel with Lewis Hamilton in an unforgettable season and last year it was a tight battle with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
What hope of a similarly thrilling edition this year? Well, for that to be the case I think we’d have to have both Red Bulls taken out at the first corner. Continuing their prowess ahead of the field in the opening race in Bahrain, they dominated final practice this afternoon, too.
Max Verstappen, the defending champion and the fastest man in FP1 and FP2 yesterday, was again ahead of the field in final practice. And, yes, it was his team-mate Sergio Perez who was in second, some six-tenths adrift. The fastest non-Red Bull car was Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin, who was 0.998sec slower than Verstappen. The conditions will be different come qualifying under lights in an hour or so but that feels like a very bad sign for any hope of a competitive weekend.