Verstappen secures pole position in a nail-biting fight

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Brazil, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagosbr

Despite to Lewis Hamilton’s alarming lap times in the practice sessions, it was Max Verstappen who came out on top of an extremely close qualifying battle to take the pole position for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel completed the first row.

Sainz with engine problems – Q1

Although clouds were covering the sky, drivers seemed to be in no rush to head on to the circuit at the beginning of the qualifying session. Williams driver George Russel recorded the very first lap time with a 1m10.688, although the Alfa Romeo drivers quickly took over the lead.

Of the top three teams, the Ferrari drivers were the first to join the track action. Sebastian Vettel set went fastest at the time, just 36 thousandths of a second quicker than teammate Charles Leclerc. Moments later, the Red Bull duo of Alexander Albon and Max Verstappen improved the times set by the Ferraris. Leclerc stayed on the track for two further hot laps to split the two Red Bulls at the end.

After his struggles during the practice sessions, Valtteri Bottas seemed to have found harmony with his W10 and set more competitive times than in the morning. However, his teammate Lewis Hamilton only ended the session in the sixth position after complaining about his overheating tyres.

An engine-related problem meant that Carlos Sainz was unable to set a lap time and will, therefore, start tomorrow’s Grand Prix at Sao Paulo from the back of the grid. Daniil Kvyat, Lance Stroll, George Russell and Robert Kubica were the other drivers to be knocked out of the first qualifying segment.

Räikkönen in the top ten again - Q2

Mercedes drivers were the ones to commence the action in the middle section of the qualifying. Hamilton and Bottas both used Pirelli’s soft tyres to try and qualify for the all-important Q3 session. However, their lead did not last long after Verstappen set a sensational lap time with a 1m07.503.

Leclerc was the only driver to attempt a run on the yellow-banded medium compound as he prepared the best possible strategy with his ten-place grid drop in his mind. Despite his harder tyres, the Monegasque set the second fastest lap time.

At the end of the session, Hamilton, Bottas and Leclerc all came out to practise on the soft compound for a second time but the yellow flags triggered by Antonio Giovinazzi’s spin meant that they all had to abort their laps.

Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Perez were eliminated from Q2.

Reshaped field - Q3

After their recent impressive qualifying showings, the Woking-based McLaren outfit was not present in the final stage of the session. In contrast to the struggles of the British team, Alfa Romeo and Haas which have both failed to qualify strong recently fought their way into Q3.

After the first run, the order was Verstappen, Vettel, Leclerc, Hamilton, Bottas, Albon. The Dutchman’s lap was particularly impressive as he drove over the kerbs on the road which leads to Turn 10, suggesting that he still had something up his sleeve on his second attempt.

On the final runs, Max Verstappen did not fail to nail his lap and set a time of 1m7.508 which was enough to secure his third F1 pole position. While the Ferrari drivers were unable to improve what was mainly down to their poor S2 time, Lewis Hamilton found a slight improvement to get himself up to third place.

Leclerc ended the session fourth, but his ten-place grid penalty means that the 22-year-old is set to start tomorrow’s 71-lap race from 14th on the grid. The Monegasque’s misfortune promotes Valtteri Bottas to the fourth position, forming a Mercedes second row on the grid.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
133Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:08.2421:07.5031:07.50812
25Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:08.5561:08.0501:07.63115
344Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:08.6141:08.0881:07.69916
416Charles LeclercFERRARI1:08.4961:07.8881:07.72820
577Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:08.5451:08.2321:07.87417
623Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:08.5031:08.1171:07.93514
710Pierre GaslySCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA1:08.9091:08.7701:08.83722
88Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:09.1971:08.7051:08.85416
97Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:09.2761:08.8581:08.98420
1020Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:08.8751:08.8031:09.03715
114Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:08.8911:08.868-13
123Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:09.0861:08.903-12
1399Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:09.1751:08.919-14
1427Nico HulkenbergRENAULT1:09.0501:08.921-12
1511Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:09.2881:09.035-14
1626Daniil KvyatSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA1:09.320--10
1718Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:09.536--9
1863George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:10.126--9
1988Robert KubicaWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:10.614--9
NC55Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULTDNF--2