Freshly-crown three-time world champion Max Verstappen edged out Charles Leclerc to secure pole position for Sunday's Sao Paulo Grand Prix before a storm hit qualifying. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó reports on the Brazil F1 qualifying session.Closer than expected
Rain was expected for the qualifying session, but the first two segments took place in dry conditions. With only tiny gaps separating the field, a hectic battle kicked off already in the opening qualifying stages.
In the end, AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda was the first driver to fail to make it through into the next qualifying session. The Japanese driver complained about a slow-moving Lewis Hamilton, who ended his last flying lap just in front of Tsunoda. However, the replays revealed that the seven-time world champion steered his Mercedes W14 to the right at Turn 1 to make sure that Tsunoda's lap was not affected.
Following his impressive performance at Mexico City, Daniel Ricciardo was knocked out in Q1, followed by Valtteri Bottas. Logan Sargeant took 19th for Williams, with Alfa Romeo's Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu bringing up the rear of the field.Albon loses crucial lap
The second session saw drivers fight for the tiniest of performance as the gaps continued to be extremely close. Nico Hulkenberg qualified 11th with his heavily-upgraded Haas while his team-mate Kevin Magnussen took 14th.
The Alpine duo of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly was separated by just five thousands of a second with their best lap times only good enough for P12 and P13 respectively. After losing his best lap time for exceeding the track limits at Turn 4, Alexander Albon couldn't reach the final segment of qualifying and will start from 15th.Torrential rain
Weather conditions changed dramatically in the final minutes of qualifying and caught several drivers out, before a heavy deluge of rain swept across the Interlagos circuit to bring Q3 to an early end.
Ahead of the heavy downpour, Verstappen clocked in a 1m10.727s which was six tenths of a second slower than what he managed in Q2, but it was enough to take pole position for Sunday's Sao Paulo Grand Prix. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc looked quick all though the session, and was able to secure the second starting position on the grid.
Aston Martin sealed a surprising second row lock-out with Lance Stroll claiming a brilliant third place, ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso.
Mercedes hoped that they can repeat what they managed a year ago, but they appeared to miss the final tenths to be really in contention for pole position today. In the end, Lewis Hamilton beat his team-mate George Russell as the pair locked out the third row on the starting grid.
Lando Norris appeared to have the pace to fight for pole position, but he was sent out on to the Carlos Jose Pace track very late, and the constantly worsening track conditions meant that he only qualified 7th.
Carlos Sainz secured a lowly P8 for Ferrari, followed by Red Bull's Mexican driver Sergio Perez. After spinning out at Turn 12, Oscar Piastri endured a disappointing end to his qualifying as he rounded out the top 10.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:10.436||1:10.162||1:10.727||18|
|3||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:10.551||1:10.375||1:11.344||16|
|4||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:10.557||1:10.237||1:11.387||18|
|7||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:10.623||1:10.021||1:11.987||13|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:10.668||1:10.219||1:12.321||17|
|10||81||Oscar Piastri||Mclaren Mercedes||1:10.519||1:10.330||15|
|11||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas Ferrari||1:10.475||1:10.547||15|
|12||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:10.763||1:10.562||15|
|13||10||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault||1:10.793||1:10.567||14|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:10.602||1:10.723||15|
|15||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:10.621||1:10.840||15|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:10.837||9|
|17||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:10.843||6|
|18||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:10.955||9|
|19||2||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes||1:11.035||9|
|20||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:11.275||9|