Verstappen beats Leclerc to Sao Paulo GP pole

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

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.


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:10.4361:10.1621:10.72718
216Charles LeclercFerrari1:10.4721:10.3031:11.02118
318Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:10.5511:10.3751:11.34416
414Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:10.5571:10.2371:11.38718
544Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:10.6041:10.2661:11.46921
663George RussellMercedes1:10.3401:10.3161:11.59021
74Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:10.6231:10.0211:11.98713
855Carlos SainzFerrari1:10.6241:10.2541:11.98920
911Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:10.6681:10.2191:12.32117
1081Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes1:10.5191:10.33015
1127Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:10.4751:10.54715
1231Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:10.7631:10.56215
1310Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:10.7931:10.56714
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:10.6021:10.72315
1523Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:10.6211:10.84015
1622Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:10.8379
173Daniel RicciardoAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:10.8436
1877Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:10.9559
192Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:11.0359
2024Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:11.2759