Max Verstappen opens up on risk of missing 2023 Saudi Arabian GP

Max Verstappen missed his Thursday media duties in Saudi Arabia after flying late due to having suffered from a stomach bug.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen has revealed that he was never going to miss this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, despite the fact he didn’t appear at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit until Friday due to having suffered from a stomach bug.

It was announced on Thursday by Verstappen and Red Bull that he’d be missing all media duties at the circuit, after being granted permission by the FIA to fly later than usual.

Verstappen delayed his flight so that he could fully get over a stomach bug, meaning the Dutchman had an uncomfortable time preparing for the weekend.

Whilst some quickly questioned if the bug would rule him out of the weekend, Verstappen reassured his fans on Friday that he would only ever miss a race under one condition.

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“Was this weekend ever in danger for you?” asked the Viaplay reporter.

“No, I would have to lose two legs and two arms for that,” Verstappen replied.

After arriving at the circuit, Verstappen went on to top both Friday free practice sessions, before also topping Free Practice 3 Saturday morning.

The 25-year-old was the favourite for pole ahead of qualifying, but a sudden driveshaft failure saw the Red Bull star pull into the pits during Q2, before jumping out of the car.

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As a result, he will start Sunday’s race in 15th; however, he remains a serious contender for victory.

Verstappen has boasted the strongest pace all weekend, meaning he could still claim a podium at least if he can navigate his way through the field quickly.

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The double world champion knows that “anything is possible” on Sunday, with the Saudi Arabian GP having thrown up “a lot of crazy things” since the race entered the calendar in 2021.

“Of course I would have liked to have started further up the road but I can’t change that now,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.

“Anything is possible at this track. We have seen a lot of crazy things. Let’s stay a little bit realistic, it is going to be tough, but we have good pace, so for sure we’ll move forward.”