Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton beat his title rival Max Verstappen to secure the first starting position for Saturday's F1 Sprint for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. Their team mates Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez will line up third and fourth on the grid respectively.
Just after the start of the first practice session, Mercedes announced that it fitted Hamilton’s car with a fresh internal combustion engine for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. The Briton took a 10-place grid penalty for a new ICE in Turkey, and his latest change will result in a five-place drop on the grid on Sunday.
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff said that "we have deg [degradation] on the engine that until the end of the season is just going to continue to decrease in power and we haven’t yet realised why that is, but we are just seeing it creep down.
"Without going into specifics, every engine is degrading and we’ve seen that over the past years over 1,000 kilometres there is a certain amount of kilowatts that the engine is degrading. And ours is just degrading much more than in the average of the past years and that increases from weekend to weekend.”
The fresh engine proved to be a real weapon for Hamilton as he dominated every single session of qualifying, setting the pace in Q1, Q2 and Q3.
The first qualifying session saw the elimination of Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi, George Russell, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. It happened for the first time in a qualifying session that Russell was outpaced by his team mate Latifi.
After a strong performance in the first session, Yuki Tsunoda was unable to repeat his best lap time in Q2, which meant he could not progress from the middle part of qualifying, and will line up P13 tomorrow. The Japanese will be followed by the Alfa Romeo driver line-up of Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi.
The fastest drivers not to get themselves through into Q3 were Alpine racer Esteban Ocon and Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel with the pair set to start the sport’s third sprint race from P11 and P12 respectively.
When the lights went green in the last qualifying segment, Hamilton quickly set a stunning lap, showing that it would require a miracle to beat him today. On his second push lap, the Briton delivered another great performance by posting a 1m07.934s, beating his championship rival Verstappen by by 0.438s.
Bottas took third in front of Sergio Perez, who managed to up his pace on his last hot lap, but the Mexican City Grand Prix star needed to settle for fourth, a hundredth behind Bottas ahead.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly continued his recent flawless performance, grabbing P5, narrowly beating the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. While Ferrari feared ahead of the weekend that McLaren might be ahead on the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, the team from Woking secured P8 and P9 with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. Fernando Alonso powered his Alpine to P10 after just pipping his team mate Ocon in Q2.
Commenting on the qualifying session, Hamilton said: “Today was a really good qualifying session, I’m super happy with it. We’ve got the penalty but we’ll give it everything we’ve got. It feels crazy, because it’s been a while, so it feels like the first."
"It’s not easy to follow, but I guess Max is starting on pole now so it’s going to be very hard to catch him but I’ll do my best to try and go through the field. I don’t know what tomorrow will hold."
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:09.329||1:08.499||1:08.372||17|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:09.172||1:08.973||1:08.483||22|
|5||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:09.347||1:08.903||1:08.777||18|
|8||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:09.365||1:09.030||1:08.980||22|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:09.374||1:09.093||1:09.039||22|
|10||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:09.391||1:09.137||1:09.113||19|
|11||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:09.430||1:09.189||14|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:09.451||1:09.399||15|
|13||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:09.350||1:09.483||9|
|14||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:09.598||1:09.503||15|
|15||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:09.342||1:10.227||14|
|16||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:09.663||9|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:09.897||9|
|18||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:09.953||10|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:10.329||11|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:10.589||10|