Pole position qualifier Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 26, 2022 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Lars Baron | Getty Images
Sergio Perez claimed pole position in a dramatic Saudi Arabian GP qualifying which saw Lewis Hamilton eliminated early in 16th and two drivers heavily crash out, with Mick Schumacher airlifted to hospital after a big shunt.
Perez edged the Ferraris to seal a superb and unexpected first pole position for Red Bull in his 219th Grand Prix, with the epic Q3 shootout completing a Jeddah qualifying session full of significant moments.
Nicholas Latifi earlier crashed out in Q1 in the Williams before a major shock as Hamilton, F1’s most successful driver in a previously dominant Mercedes, was knocked out in the first segment for the first time since 2017.
There were more red flags in Q2 as Schumacher lost control of his Haas before a huge crash at Turn 12, which led to an hour delay to qualifying as the Haas car was removed and the Jeddah street track repaired.
Schumacher was airlifted to hospital but was said to be “physically fine” and was released late on Saturday night. He will, however, miss Sunday’s race.
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Ten drivers went through to Q3, and not many would have predicted Perez as the favorite.
But just as Charles Leclerc looked set to head a Ferrari one-two on the grid for Sunday’s race, Perez pumped in one of the laps of his career to beat the Monegasque by just 0.025s.
Carlos Sainz was third ahead of Max Verstappen, Perez’s Red Bull team-mate who was surprisingly off-color when it mattered most. Red Bull and Ferrari are likely to go head-to-head for the win in F1’s fastest street race.
George Russell, managing to get much more out of the Mercedes than Hamilton, qualified sixth behind the impressive Esteban Ocon in the Alpine.
Saudi Arabian GP Qualifying Results — top 10
- Sergio Perez, Red Bull
- Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
- Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull
- Esteban Ocon, Alpine
- George Russell, Mercedes
- Fernando Alonso, Alpine
- Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
- Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
- Kevin Magnussen, Haas
Hamilton’s Q1 exit and scary crashes: Qualy drama in Saudi
Saudi Arabian GP qualifying took place following crisis talks between the drivers late into Friday night after a missile attack on a nearby oil facility. It was finally decided between F1, the FIA and the grid that they would continue with the Jeddah event, with final practice and qualifying taking place as planned on Saturday.
There was drama throughout the shootout, and it all started in Q1 with Latifi’s crash at Turn 13, with the Williams the first to push the limits of the unforgiving Corniche circuit. He was taken to the medical center, but was unharmed.
That preceded one of the biggest shocks in recent qualifying memory with Hamilton eliminated in 16th.
It was not due to weather or bad luck; Hamilton was down in that position on a lack of pace alone and despite his best efforts and plenty of flying laps on the softest tires, he was subjected to a humiliating exit when Lance Stroll improved.
It was his first Q1 elimination since the 2017 Brazilian GP when he crashed, and his first with no mitigating factors since the 2009 British GP.
Hamilton sounded surprised when told of the deficit to Russell, who was fourth in that segment, and Sky F1’s Paul Di Resta said: “That’s not the Lewis Hamilton we know.
“There must be something within that car that’s not right.”
There was then another crash, this time more significant, as Schumacher slammed sideways into the barriers at Turn 12 during Q2.
Track marshals clean debris from the track after Haas’ Mick Schumacher crashed during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 26, 2022.
Clive Mason | Getty Images
Pictures did not immediately show replays — leading to fears over his well-being — although the German, son of F1 legend Michael, was said to be conscious before making his way to the medical center.
Haas stated he was “physically fine” but he was airlifted to hospital in a helicopter for further precautionary checks. He was released later but will not line up for Sunday’s race, and Haas will not call up a replacement.
Perez sets up another Red Bull vs Ferrari battle
Following an hour delay, Q2 concluded — with Lando Norris narrowly avoiding the top-10 shootout in the McLaren — before Ferrari appeared to be romping away in the battle for pole in Q3.
Verstappen, who is almost exclusively Red Bull’s lead driver on a Saturday, endured what he described as a “terrible” first lap while Leclerc and Sainz found form. But just as it looked like Ferrari were going to continue their perfect start to F1 2022, Perez pumped in purple sectors on his way to snatching pole.
“I can do a 1,000 laps and I don’t think I can beat that lap, it was unbelievable,” said the Mexican.
It’s set up for a cracking race with Red Bull and Ferrari fighting at the front and a mixed-up grid behind. Watch it all on Sky Sports F1 at 6pm, with build-up from 4.30pm.
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon gets 29% pay cut to $25 million
David Solomon, Chairman & CEO of Goldman Sachs, speaking on Squawk Box at the WEF in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 23rd, 2023.
Adam Galica | CNBC
The package includes a $2 million base salary and variable compensation of $23 million, New York-based Goldman said in the filing. Most of Solomon’s bonus— 70%, or $16.1 million, is in the form of restricted shares tied to performance metrics, while the rest is paid in cash, the bank said.
Solomon’s pay, while large by most any measure, is about 29% lower than the $35 million he was granted for his 2021 performance. Meanwhile, Goldman’s full year earnings fell by 48% to $11.3 billion, thanks to sharp declines in investment banking and asset management revenue, the company said last week.
While the bank was primarily hit by industrywide slowdowns in capital markets activity as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates, Solomon also faced his own set of issues last year. Goldman was forced to scale back its ambitions in consumer finance and lay off nearly 4,000 workers in two rounds of terminations in recent months.
Fiji fires police commissioner and end security deal with China
Police operate a security check point in the Fijian capital of Suva in December following general elections. The Pacific island nation has played an important regional role amid competition between China on the one side and Australia, New Zealand and the United States on the other.
Saeed Khan | Afp | Getty Images
Fiji’s president on Friday suspended the commissioner of police following a general election saw the first change in government in the Pacific island nation in 16 years, after the military earlier warned against “sweeping changes.”
President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere said Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho had been suspended on the advice of the Constitutional Offices Commission, “pending investigation and referral to and appointment of, a tribunal.”
The Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem was also suspended by the commission, the statement said.
Qiliho declined to comment to local media because he said he will face a tribunal over his conduct. He was seen as being close to former prime minister Frank Bainimarama, who led Fiji for 16 years before a coalition of parties narrowly won December’s election and installed Sitiveni Rabuka as leader of the strategically important Pacific nation.
The day before a coalition agreement was struck, Qiliho and Bainimarama called on the military to maintain law and order because they said the hung election result had sparked ethnic tensions, a claim disputed by the coalition parties.
The Pacific island nation, which has a history of military coups, has been pivotal to the region’s response to competition between China and the United States, and struck a deal with Australia in October for greater defence cooperation.
On Thursday, Fiji Times reported that Rabuka said his government would end a police training and exchange agreement with China.
“Our system of democracy and justice systems are different so we will go back to those that have similar systems with us,” the prime minister was quoted as saying, referring to Australia and New Zealand.
The prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander Major General Jone Kalouniwai earlier this month warned Rabuka’s government against making “sweeping changes,” and has insisted it abide by a 2013 constitution which gives the military a key role.
Inventory glut and underused factories
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, with U.S. President Joe Biden (not pictured), announces the tech firm’s plan to build a $20 billion plant in Ohio, from the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus in Washington, January 21, 2022.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Investors hated it, sending the stock over 9% lower in extended trading, despite the fact that Intel did not cut its dividend.
The earnings report, which was the eighth under CEO Pat Gelsinger’s leadership, shows a legendary technology company struggling with many factors outside of its control, including a deeply slumping PC market. It also highlights some of Intel’s current issues with weak demand for its current products and inefficient internal performance, and underscores how precarious the company’s financial health has become.
“Clearly, the financials aren’t what we would hoped,” Gelsinger told analysts.
In short: Intel had a difficult 2022, and 2023 is shaping up to be tough as well.
Here are some of the most concerning bits from Intel’s earnings report and analyst call:
Intel didn’t give full-year guidance for 2023, citing economic uncertainty.
But the data points for the current quarter suggest tough times. Intel guided for about $11 billion in sales in the March quarter, which would be a 40% year-over-year decline. Gross margin will be 34.1%, a huge decrease from the 55.2% in the same quarter in 2021, Gelsinger’s first at the helm.
But the biggest issue for investors is that Intel guided to a 15 cent non-GAAP loss per share, a big decline for a company that a year ago was reporting $1.13 in profit per share. It would be the first loss per share since last summer, which was the first loss for the company in decades.
Management gave several reasons for the tough upcoming quarter, but one theme that came through was that its customers simply have too many chips and need to work through inventory, so they won’t be buying many new chips.
Both the PC and server markets have slowed after a two-year boom spurred by remote work and school during the pandemic. Now, PC sales have slowed and the computer makers have too many chips. Gelsinger is predicting PC sales during the year to be around 270 million to 295 million — a far cry from the “million units-a-day” he predicted in 2021.
Now, Intel’s customers have to “digest” the chips they already have, or “correct” their inventories, and the company doesn’t know when this dynamic will shift back.
“While we know this dynamic will reverse, predicting when is difficult,” Gelsinger told analysts.
Underpinning all of this is that Intel’s gross margin continues to decline, hurting the company’s profitability. One issue is “factory load,” or how efficiently factories run around the clock. Intel said that its gross margin would be hit by 400 basis points, or 4 percentage points, because of factories running under load because of soft demand.
Ultimately, Intel forecasts a 34.1% gross margin in the current quarter — a far cry from the 51% to 53% goal the company set at last year’s investor day. The company says it’s working on it, and the margin could get back to Intel’s goal “in the medium-term” if demand recovers.
“We have a number of initiatives under way to improve gross margins and we’re well under way. When you look at the $3 billion reduction [in costs] that we talked about for 2023, 1 billion of that is in cost of sales and we’re well on our way to getting that billion dollars,” Gelsinger said.
Long-term investors have always closely watched how the company balances the near-term need to placate shareholders with the massive capital spending needed to stay competitive in the semiconductor manufacturing business.
If Intel is cutting costs and still needing to invest in chip factories to power its turnaround, analysts say it may want to reconsider its dividend. Intel spent $6 billion on dividends in 2022, but did not cut its dividend on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the company said it wants to cut $3 billion in costs for 2023 and analysts believe it wants to spend around $20 billion in capital expenditures to build out its factories.
Gelsinger was asked about this dynamic on Thursday.
“I’d just say the board, management, we take a very disciplined approach to the capital allocation strategy and we’re going to remain committed to being very prudent around how we allocate capital for the owners and we are committed to maintaining a competitive dividend,” Gelsinger replied.
There was at least one bright spot for Intel on Thursday.
Mobileye, its self-driving subsidiary that went public during the December quarter, reported earlier in the day, showing adjusted earnings per share of 27 cents and revenue growth of 59%, to $656 million. It also forecast strong 2023 revenue of between $2.19 billion and $2.28 billion. Shares rose nearly 6% during regular trading hours Thursday.
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