Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says he’s wary of his “rapid” title rival Max Verstappen in Saudi Arabia, despite the Dutchman crashing into the wall in the final few moments of qualifying. On his last flying lap, Verstappen lit up the timing screens with two purple sectors, before locking up and hitting the rear of his Red Bull into the wall, with Hamilton on pole and Valtteri Bottas starting second ahead of him.
After setting provisional pole, Hamilton was on his final run when Verstappen crashed at the high-speed Jeddah street circuit, throwing away his chance to start ahead of his rival.
For Hamilton, it was a crucial pole position as championship leader Verstappen has the chance to wrap up the title at the 27-corner circuit, if he finishes 18 points ahead of the Briton on Sunday.
Speaking directly after the qualifying session, Hamilton said: “What a tough track, this is incredibly technical, it’s amazing what they built here, track-wise.
“The speed and the pace around here is is phenomenal.
JUST IN: Saudi GP qualifying results: Hamilton on pole after Verstappen crashes
“We were quick through practice but for some reason P3 and particularly qualifying I was lacking pace and particularly struggling with the tyres.
“For us to get a one-two, I’m really proud of Valtteri [Bottas] and everyone on the team, this is a great result. The men and the women in our team have just been working so hard.
“This was the goal. We’ve worked so hard through simulation, through set-up, the collaboration has just been epic with Valtteri, he’s the best team-mate there has ever been in the sport.
“And we’ve worked together to work in the setup, to get the car to where it needs to be.
“Those guys [Red Bull] were just so fast. That Bull around this track is something else, but given where we are and what we managed to pull out with what we have.