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Verstappen on pole for Saudi Arabian GP. Ferrari stand-in Bearman 11th

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen qualified on pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Friday, extending his strong start to the season amid turmoil at the Red Bull team.

Verstappen was fastest by 0.319 seconds from Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, with the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez .016 further back.

The 18-year-old British driver Oliver Bearman qualified 11th for Ferrari on his competitive F1 debut, just hours after the team announced he was the last-minute replacement for Carlos Sainz Jr. The Spanish driver was diagnosed with appendicitis, requiring an operation Friday.

Verstappen took pole amid continuing instability at the champion Red Bull team, a week after the team’s parent company dismissed a complaint of alleged misconduct by team principal Christian Horner toward a team employee.

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing