The runaway winner in Bahrain a fortnight beforehand had taken a clear sweep throughout the apply periods, ending the three hours of working with a cumulative benefit of 1.3s.
Nevertheless, after topping Q1 by an imperious 0.483s over team-mate and eventual polesitter Sergio Perez, his RB19 hit bother with the right-rear failure as he emerged from Flip 10.
That pressured the defending champion out in Q2, his earliest qualifying exit since electing to not run in any respect at Sochi in 2021 when he was loaded with grid penalties for an engine change.
However because the Belgian and Italian GPs of final season proved emphatically, Verstappen is greater than as much as the duty of mounting an astonishing comeback on this ground-effects period of F1.
And judging by his upbeat manner when addressing the media straight after breaking down on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, he believes one other gorgeous restoration is eminently possible.
The place the Purple Bull excels on the Saudi streets
Max Verstappen, Purple Bull Racing RB19
Picture by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Verstappen scored his first of a file 15 grand prix victories final season courtesy of a DRS-inspired overcome Charles Leclerc on the Saudi venue, with the top-end punch of the rebadged Honda engine proving decisive over the agile Ferrari because the Purple Bull headed the velocity traps.
However these traits had seemingly been swapped for the Bahrain spherical earlier this month.
The lighter-for-2023 RB19 proved fast by lower-speed acceleration zones however was ultimately out of puff in comparison with the low-drag SF-23 when heading north of 180mph.
That prime-speed behavior and abandoning the extraordinarily abrasive Sakhir asphalt, which uncovered Ferrari’s tyre degradation woes, ought to have favoured Leclerc and Carlos Sainz for this weekend, in principle. However the GPS information from Saturday working in Saudi reveals the breadth of the Purple Bull’s capabilities, with the RB19 having the legs over its red-painted rival on the flowing streets.
Even Verstappen’s Q1-topping lap of 1m28.761s (which nonetheless would have put him third in Q3, with Perez main the order with a 1m28.265s) nonetheless had him close to the highest of the velocity traps. The Dutch driver hit 206.3mph earlier than slamming on the brakes for Flip 1, which compares to 204.4mph for Perez as Leclerc clocks 202.6mph to very narrowly eclipse George Russell. Fernando Alonso within the initially draggy Aston Martin AMR23, in the meantime, reached a peak of 198mph.
Apparently, the Aston, Ferrari and Merc commerce locations from Turns 4 by to 10 because the RB19 is compromised by the higher-speed, downforce-determined adjustments of path.
Nevertheless, it’s then capable of markedly stretch its legs on the backstraight to max out at 210mph – that’s 4mph higher than the Ferrari and 6mph over the Merc and Aston.
Whereas Perez’s pole lap does function him setting the tempo into the tough Flip 22, the RB19 seems to pay a value by the subsequent sequence because the Ferrari and Aston come to the fore.
Equally, Purple Bull is unmatched for the dash into the ultimate nook, with Perez carrying probably the most velocity to the apex earlier than Alonso can’t be caught throughout the low-speed acceleration.
How these traits translate to race technique
Max Verstappen, Purple Bull Racing RB19, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, others apply their begin procedures on the finish of FP2
Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
It’s due to Verstappen’s driveshaft failure that Saudi GP organisers and F1 bosses might be rubbing their palms on the prospect of finishing a hat-trick of thrilling Jeddah races.
An inaugural race earned infamy for the repeat battles and collision between Verstappen and bitter title rival Lewis Hamilton to go away them equal on factors forward of the Abu Dhabi showdown.
Final season’s version acted as half two of the Leclerc and Verstappen DRS detection duel.
This time round, all eyes might be on Verstappen’s powers of restoration – albeit with the hope that it takes him longer than the 12 laps required at Spa in 2022 to climb from 14th to first.
Not like making progress on the famed Belgian venue, Verstappen will certainly have to bide his time to a larger extent on the slender concrete barrier-lined Corniche circuit. Whereas Verstappen is a exact and incisive passer, the emphasis might be on his means to second-guess the place his rivals will place their automobiles so as to keep away from any shunts.
Likewise, he might have to spectate and permit the first-lap to unfold ought to there be a mid-pack melee forward that he may in any other case be collected in.
However as soon as the opening stint has settled in, the set-up of the RB19 might be ideally suited to his restoration mission – even when that optimisation is considerably incidental, with not one of the Purple Bull crew initially planning for Verstappen to have been eradicated so early in qualifying.
As soon as DRS is activated, the overtaking support might be teamed with the Purple Bull’s already superior prime velocity to permit seemingly easy passes down the straights or for Verstappen to attract degree with every opponent earlier than edging forward into every braking zone.