F1 preview: A lap of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
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Williams driver Logan Sargeant has been granted permission to start the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday after failing to qualify for the race. The American rookie struggled to cope with the tricky demands of the Jeddah Corniche street circuit and failed to set a lap time in his three hot laps during qualifying on Saturday, forcing F1 stewards to make a decision over whether he would be allowed to race.
Regulations stipulate that drivers must set a time which is within 107 per cent of the time set by the pole-sitter in order to qualify for the event. Red Bull star Sergio Perez clinched pole position with a time of 1:28.265 in Q3, with Sargeant a massive 39 seconds adrift in total as his warm-up lap was the only one that officially counted.
However, the F1 race stewards have given the green light to the youngster to take his place on the grid for Sunday’s race and he will now start from the back of the grid.
Williams had to apply for special dispensation to allow Sargeant to race and, after having his case heard by the stewards, he has been granted permission after evidence was shown from his lap times in Friday’s practice.
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The 22-year-old, currently the only American driver in the sport, failed to set a lap time after three attempts to do so were hampered by either his own errors or other driver incidents. On his first lap, he crossed the pit entry line at the end of the lap, giving the stewards no option but to delete his lap time from the timesheet.
Then, on his second attempt, Sargeant spun at Turn 22 in a high-speed incident and was fortunate not to collide with the wall as many other drivers had done, with Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle joking that Sargeant “must have his lucky underpants on” after avoiding a nasty crash in his Williams FW44.
With the clock ticking down on Q1, he missed his chance to get himself on the board with a lap time after hitting the curb at speed at Turn 22, causing damage to his floor and forcing him to abandon his lap time.
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The Florida-born star impressed in his first race in Bahrain after coming home in 12th position on his debut and he will be hoping to register a similar result to make up for his disappointment in qualifying as he declared his frustration with his incident-laden qualifying session.
“It was in the event notes to not cross the pit entry line, so it’s on me,” he told F1 TV. “I feel like we need to do a better job of policing it in free practice to use it as a reference.
“I did exactly that run all weekend and [this time] it gets deleted, so that’s a bit frustrating. On the positive side, the car was super quick and I felt really good. Obviously I made a couple of mistakes but that’s just details. I’m disappointed in myself to not put a lap together for the team.
“But it is what it is. Onwards and upwards. It’s not a mistake I want to make. I was up on my first lap and I didn’t need to push as hard as I did trying to find every last 100th. It caught me out and put a lot of pressure on the last lap, which I didn’t deliver.”
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