F1 LIVE | Qualifying for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

F1 LIVE | Qualifying for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

18 March - 15:59 Last update: 17:00

It is time for the fastest laps of the weekend. Qualifying will determine who will start from pole position tomorrow. In this live blog, you won't miss anything from qualifying for the F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Liveblog Qualifying | Can Alonso challenge Red Bull?


Red Bull favourites again

Max Verstappen looks to be in the best position for qualifying. The Red Bull Racing driver was extremely fast during all practice sessions and his one-lap speed bodes well for qualifying. His teammate Sergio Perez should just not be written off. He too looks fast and last year the Mexican took pole position here.

So it looks like Red Bull are the strongest team again, but perhaps Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso can string together perfect sectors and still pose a threat. At least for the race on Sunday, Red Bull also look the strongest with Perez leading.

For Ferrari and Mercedes, it was a somewhat quiet preparation for the weekend. The teams did not show much yet. Whether they do have more to offer we will find out during this qualifying session. For Charles Leclerc, qualifying is less important. The Monegasque starts ten places back due to a grid penalty. However, the Ferrari driver will want to be as far in front as possible.

Track guide

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by (@gpblog_com)

The Jeddah track is the fastest street circuit that Formula 1 visits. Average speeds in qualifying are over 250 km/h with drivers climbing above 310 km/h on three separate occasions during a single push lap. Over 80% of the lap is spent at full throttle and many of the corners can be taken flat-out given the soft angle.

All three sectors are pretty quick, but the first is slightly slower with tighter turns. The first corner is particularly tight, and then the drivers have to flick the steering wheel in the opposite direction almost immediately to take the second corner. There are elongated chicanes throughout the circuit, this one is one of the tightest. To have better confidence in this sector, drivers might opt for a higher downforce setting on their cars. Going down this route should also help them during the Grand Prix because it would mean the tyres do less sliding and therefore should last longer. 

However, in the following two sectors, having a high downforce is negative. Without DRS, it becomes difficult for the cars to dump drag and they will therefore lose time during the faster areas of the circuit. This means that during the race, when DRS isn't available regularly, a high downforce reduces performances in sectors two and three. The best sector times might allow us to identify which set-up the teams tried in the second free practice session.