'Great shame': Max Verstappen rocked in 'terrible' qualifying crash

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Pictured left, Red Bull team members react to Max Verstappen's crash in qualifying.
Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team were gutted after the crash in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian GP. Pic: Getty

Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen has been left cursing his back luck after suffering another devastating blow in his hopes of winning a maiden world title.

Verstappen looked on course to complete what his Red Bull boss Christian Horner described as "the lap of the year" on the new super-fast Jeddah Corniche street circuit when he hit a wall at the final turn in qualifying.

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Lewis Hamilton capitalised on his fierce rival's misfortune by claiming pole position in a Mercedes one-two after teammate Valtteri Bottaas took the other spot on the front of the grid.

Verstappen, who needs to finish at least second in Sunday's night race to have a chance of taking the title, qualified third with a question mark over his car's gearbox and whether he risks a possible grid penalty.

"That was looking like the lap of the year," said Red Bull boss Christian Horner of Verstappen's effort until the moment of impact.

"It was a mighty, mighty lap. He was pulling something very special out of the bag."

Verstappen said it was a "terrible" end to a session that promised so much.

"I knew the pace was there and it showed at the end. I don't really understand what happened but I locked up. I still tried to keep the car on track and keep going but clipped the rear and had to stop," he said.

Horner was hoping Verstappen’s car did not suffer gearbox damage because the Dutchman will face a grid penalty for Sunday’s (Monday AEDT) race if it needs to be replaced.

“Pretty brutal but we’ll hope the gearbox isn’t damaged and see what we can do tomorrow. Max will be frustrated. He knows what a good lap it was," Horner said.

Lewis Hamilton chasing hat-trick of wins

Hamilton's pole capped off a dramatic day for the Brit as well after he escaped sanction for an alleged failure to slow down under yellow flags and for blocking Nikita Mazepin's Haas in practice.

Hamilton, chasing a hat-trick of wins after victories in Brazil and Qatar that narrowed the gap to Verstappen, was delighted to be leading a front row lockout.

"For us to get a one-two, I'm really proud of Valtteri and the men and women in our team who have just been working so hard. This is a great result," said the Briton after the latest twist in a roller-coaster season of fluctuating fortunes.

Seen here, Lewis Hamilton gives a thumbs-up after qualifying in pole position for the Saudi Arabian GP.
Lewis Hamilton will start the Saudi Arabian GP from pole position after Saturday's qualifying session. Pic: Getty

The pole was the 103rd of Hamilton's career and fifth of the season.

Verstappen will start in front of Charles Leclerc's Ferrari but teammate Sergio Perez could manage only fifth.

Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri), Lando Norris (McLaren), Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri), Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) complete the top 10, while it was another disappointing qualifying session for Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who could only finish 11th in his McLaren after exiting Q2.

with agencies

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