Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was understandably ecstatic after his stunning final qualifying lap that put him onto pole position for the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
After 218 previous race weekends without taking pole, the Mexican set a phenomenal middle sector at the end of the third qualifying session, and crossed the line to go two hundredths of a second faster than Charles Leclerc, who had looked destined for his 11th career pole.
He exclaimed on the radio that “hard work pays off,” and he has out-qualified team-mate Max Verstappen for the first time this season in the second race of the campaign, as he did in 2021 at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old recognised that it has taken 11 years for him to take his first pole, but hailed one of the best laps of his career.
“It took me a couple of races! But what a lap time, unbelievable,” he told Johnny Herbert after qualifying.
“I can do a thousand laps and I don’t think I can beat that lap, it was unbelievable.”
He affirmed that the Milton Keynes side have been angling the nucleus of their work towards race pace, so hopes that they can capitalise on this tomorrow.
“We weren’t really expecting to match the Ferraris in qualifying, we were focusing mainly into the race, so hopefully we get [the win] tomorrow,” he added.
Red Bull ended the race with a double reliability-related retirement late on last weekend in Bahrain, as Verstappen and then Perez suffered issues with their fuel system.
Ferrari took a comfortable one-two as a result via Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, and Sir Lewis Hamilton was subsequently given a podium after a challenging qualifying.
Team principal Christian Horner is confident that the team have “addressed” the issue, and therefore is not anticipating further failures of that sort in Sunday’s race in Jeddah.