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Verstappen 15th in qualifying after car trouble

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Max Verstappen finished 15th in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after losing power in his Red Bull during the second part of the session.

The defending champion was the clear favorite for pole position after finishing 0.6sec behind his nearest rival in final practice and doubling that lead in the first qualifying session.

But loss of power, which occurred on his first attempt in Q2, prevented him from completing a lap in the second session and he therefore qualified 15th.

“The car is not accelerating,” Verstappen said on team radio shortly after the problem occurred.

Verstappen returned the car to the pits, but it was immediately clear that he would not be able to continue.

The disappointment follows a commanding win for Verstappen in the season opener in Bahrain, which marked him as the man to beat en route to Saudi Arabia.

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez tapped into Red Bull’s potential by qualifying on pole position.

Fernando Alonso continued the good Aston Martin story by securing a place alongside Pérez on the front row of the grid. Alonso claimed a podium finish behind the Red Bulls at the Bahrain Grand Prix and will be confident of another strong result on Sunday night.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had beaten Alonso to second in the standings, but he will drop 10 places as a penalty for the team purchasing additional engine components earlier this week, meaning he will join Verstappen in the second half of the grid.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will start seventh.