English Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) maintains its hopes of retaining the title of the Formula 1 after making sure to start from pole position the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, penultimate date of the current season of the maximum.
The dutch Max Verstappen (Red Bull), the tournament leader, was third fastest after hitting a wall on his final fastest lap on the tight street circuit of Jeddah just when he seemed ready to unseat his rival.
Hamilton's Mercedes teammate, the Finn Valtteri Bottas, was second and will share the first row on Sunday.
“What a tough track this is. It is amazing what they have built, the speed and pace here is phenomenal ”, Hamilton said. "It's a great result for the team ", he explained in reference to the doublet.
For Hamilton, who has cut Verstappen's lead in the championship with successive victories in Brazil and Qatar, it was the fifth pole of the season and 103rd of his career.
Verstappen, who has an eight-point lead over Hamilton with just two races remaining, can claim his first world title on Sunday if he wins the race and Hamilton finishes outside of the top six.
Otherwise, the 2021 title battle will be reduced until the very last moment in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
“I really don't understand what happened (on the last fastest lap). I shut myself up a bit. Third place is disappointing, but at least the car proved to be fast, so we'll see what happens tomorrow ”, Verstappen pointed out.
The Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and the Mexican Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) completed the top five for Sunday's race, the first to be held in the Saudi kingdom.
Securing pole capped a dramatic day for Hamilton. He escaped a penalty for yellow-flag incidents in Saturday's practice after being cited for an alleged lack of slowdown under double-wave yellow flags and for blocking the Russian. Nikita mazepin (Haas).
However, the Mercedes star was cleared of any wrongdoing after stewards admitted that a panel of double wave yellow light had been accidentally activated; although he was fined with 25.000 euros for the second incident.
SAUDI ARABIA GRAND PRIZE RANKING
|3||33||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:28.285||1:27.953||1:27.653||19|
|5||11||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:28.021||1:27.946||1:28.123||23|
|10||99||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:28.899||1:28.616||1:28.754||21|
|12||7||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:28.856||1:28.885||18|
|17||5||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||1:29.198||10|
|18||18||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||1:29.368||9|