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Last-lap Verstappen crash hands Hamilton dramatic pole for Saudi Arabian GP – iNews

Max Verstappen was flying into pole position but a crash in the dying moments of his final qualifying lap means it will be advantage Lewis Hamilton going into Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
A dramatic Saturday saw Hamilton escape a penalty and then beat title rival Verstappen to pole for the inaugural race in Jeddah, with Valterri Bottas making it a Mercedes 1-2 on the front row.
With the race for the drivers’ championship going down to the wire, Hamilton’s pole in the penultimate race offers the seven-time world champion the perfect opportunity to close the gap on leader Verstappen, who will start the GP in third.
Verstappen looked set to post the fastest lap, but he collided into the wall, sparking dramatic scenes in the paddock, and potentially damaging his gearbox in what could be a major blow to his title chances.
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Earlier, Hamilton had complained about “no grip” in Q2 when posting times 0.7 seconds behind Verstappen, but he eventually went around in 1:27.712 as Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, George Russell and Carlos Sainz dropped out ahead of the final stage of qualifying.
Sainz endured a torrid qualifying, spinning out of control in the middle sector as his rear wing clipped the barrier before dubbing his car “undriveable” over the radio.
In Q3, Hamilton made an error when oversteering in his first lap as teammate Bottas set the early pace.
Race starts 5.30pm GMT on Sunday
A 1:28.035 put Hamilton on top initially, but in his flying lap Verstappen posted 1:27.653 to go 0.382 seconds quicker.
“I need a tow,” Verstappen then said over the radio, despite being on provisional pole, although that position then went to Hamilton with the Mercedes driver recording 1:27.511.
Verstappen then seemingly went wide and almost touched the wall in the dying moments of qualifying, but he was still on track to top the standings – right until he missed an apex and went into the wall.
MAX VERSTAPPEN HITS THE WALL ON THE LAST TURN!! ????

LEWIS HAMILTON TAKES POLE!! 1️⃣

???? #SaudiaArabianGP qualifying live on Sky Sports F1#SkyF1 | #F1 | ???????? pic.twitter.com/V5Xjy8GTCR
“It’s of course terrible,” Verstappen, who was unhurt, said afterwards.
“In general it was a good qualifying, 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.
“P3 is of course a bit disappointing knowing what lap I was on. But nevertheless it shows the car is quick and let’s see what we can do at the end of the race.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner added to Sky Sports F1: “That was looking like the lap of the year. It’s a great shame, he just grabbed the front into the last corner, he tried to keep the momentum… and unfortunately he run out of road.
“It’s pretty brutal. Let’s hope the gearbox isn’t broken. He’ll be frustrated, I’m sure. He knows what a good lap it was. He just needs to put that behind him. He knows what can still happen in the race.
“It was a mighty mighty lap. We’re in the back foot here and he was pulling something very special out the bag.
“Hopefully it’s not a gearbox penalty because that would be especially brutal.”
Sunday 5 December
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Earlier in the day, Hamilton escaped a penalty following two incidents during Free Practice 3, in which Verstappen set the pace.
Hamilton was summoned to meet the stewards just before qualifying after it was alleged he failed to slow down under double-waved yellow flags – a matter Verstappen was penalised for in Qatar – as well as blocking Haas’ Nikita Mazepin.
However, Hamilton was cleared of any wrongdoing in the yellow-flag incident, with stewards revealing the light panel was activated accidentally – and for under a second.
Mercedes were however handed a €25,000 (£21,400) fine when blamed for their role in Hamilton impeding Mazepin at Turn 8.
“It is the driver’s ultimate responsibility to avoid impeding,” the stewards said. “For this circuit the driver must depend upon the team to communicate efficiently. This did not happen in this case and accordingly the penalty for the competitor is imposed.”
World drivers’ championship:
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