The Red Bull driver looked set to beat title rival Lewis Hamilton to a crucial pole position in Jeddah after going fastest in the first two sectors on his last lap of Q3, but Verstappen hit the outside wall after locking up at the final corner. 

With damage to his suspension, Verstappen was forced to park up, leaving him only third on the grid while Hamilton headed a Mercedes front-row lockout in Saudi Arabia. 

"Yeah, it's of course terrible," Verstappen said in parc ferme after qualifying. "But that was generally a good qualifying.

"It was a bit hard of course to switch on the tyres here on the street circuit, but I knew the pace was there and it showed in the last segment.

"I don't really understand what happened, but I locked up and I still tried to of course keep the car on the track, try to finish the lap but I clipped the rear and had to stop.

“P3 is a bit disappointing of course today, knowing what lap I was on. Nevertheless, it shows that the car is quick and let's see what we can do in the race.”

Asked if he is worried about potential damage to his gearbox - with any change triggering a five-place grid penalty - Verstappen replied: "I don’t know. I immediately stopped, so let’s see.” 

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner felt Verstappen was on for “the lap of the season” before his session-ending crash. 

“It’s a great shame,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“He’ll be frustrated, I’m sure. He knows what a good lap it was. He just needs to put that behind him now, he’s still P3 on the grid, needs to have a good start, anything can still happen in this race.

“It was a great shame because it was a mighty, mighty lap. We’re on the back foot here and that was pulling something special out of the bag. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”