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Leclerc 'did not expect' thrilling Perez lap to claim pole

Leclerc 'did not expect' thrilling Perez lap to claim pole

Leclerc 'did not expect' thrilling Perez lap to claim pole

Leclerc 'did not expect' thrilling Perez lap to claim pole

Charles Leclerc has conceded that Sergio Perez's thrilling lap to take pole for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix took him by surprise.

Leclerc produced an excellent lap in Q3 to move ahead of his team-mate Carlos Sainz in the closing seconds of the session, only for Perez to go marginally quicker and deny Ferrari a one-two.

It was a session interrupted by a frightening crash involving Mick Schumacher in Q2, the Haas driver losing control at turn 12 and impacting the wall at 150mph.

Haas has since confirmed that Schumacher is conscious and has been transported to the King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital.

But the session ended with on-track drama as Perez claimed his maiden pole position at the 215th attempt, and Leclerc said afterwards that he had been taken aback by the Mexican's pace.

"The lap felt good honestly, I am very happy, the full qualifying was about keeping it on track and not making any mistakes which would be very costly, and then in Q3 in the second lap I just went for it," explained Leclerc.

"I more or less put everything together, there's a bit here and there, but yeah, I definitely did not expect Checo to come with that lap time, so congratulations to him and I'm pretty sure he did an incredible job today.

"It's another day tomorrow, and hopefully we will have a good start."

Perez's team-mate Max Verstappen could only finish in fourth, while it was another tough weekend for Mercedes, with George Russell sixth, but Lewis Hamilton down in 16th after exiting in Q1 for the first time in five years.

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