JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Max Verstappen finished 15th in qualifying at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after he lost power in his Red Bull during the second part of the session.
The reigning champion was the clear favourite for pole position after finishing 0.6s clear of his nearest rival in final practice and doubling down on that advantage in the first session of qualifying.
But the loss of power, which occurred on his first attempt in Q2, meant he was unable to complete a lap in the second session and was therefore classified 15th.
“The car is not accelerating,” Verstappen said over team radio shortly after the problem occurred.
Verstappen returned the car to the pits but it became immediately clear that he would not be able to continue.
The disappointment follows a dominant victory for Verstappen at the opening round of the season in Bahrain, which earmarked him as the man to beat heading to Saudi Arabia.
Verstappen will be joined on the back half of the grid by Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who is set to serve a grid penalty after Ferrari exceeded his quota of engine control electronics for the season due to reliability issues in Bahrain.