Lando Norris beat Max Verstappen by 0.061s to secure F1 Brazil GP sprint qualifying pole, as Sergio Perez slotted in third.
The medium tyres were in place for the first part of F1 Brazil GP sprint qualifying in a sunny Interlagos which ended under red flag due to an incident involving Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in the first part of the circuit.
Ocon ran over the kerb and lost control when he came in contact with Alonso, sending the Frenchman into the barrier. The incident is under investigation as the Spaniard also suffered damage to his car where he limped back into the pits.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz led the way with a 1m11.796s lap ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton ending up third. In the knockout zone, Ocon was 16th after setting a 1m12.388s lap from Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll (1m12.482s).
The Canadian, who made it third on Friday, he got knocked out in SQ1. Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu (1m12.497s) was 18th ahead of the Williams pair of Alexander Albon (1m12.525s) and Logan Sargeant (1m12615s), where the Thai couldn’t complete a lap due to red flag while the American was seemingly impeded by a Haas.
The stewards also put Mercedes’ George Russell, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, Norris and Ocon under investigation for failing to follow the maximum delta time.
There was delay to start the second part of F1 Brazil GP sprint qualifying due to barrier replacement. Aston Martin were working hard to fix the car but they couldn’t do it on time for Alonso to be knocked out of the qualifying session already.
It was Norris on top with a 1m11.221s lap after a late push to be only 0.009s ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, with Verstappen in third – only 0.041s behind the Brit. It was close in the dropout zone as well where Haas missed it by 0.051s and 0.076s respectively.
Kevin Magnussen was ahead with a 1m11.727s lap in 11th from Nico Hulkenberg (1m11.752s), with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly (1m11822s) slotting in 13th from Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas (1m11.872s) among the 14 runners, as AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda was put under investigation for maximum delta time.
The final part of F1 Brazil GP sprint qualifying saw a one-lap shootout after drivers waited out the early part. It was one after the another as Norris secured pole in sprint shootout despite having an average first sector with a 1m10.622s lap.
He edged out Verstappen (1m10.683s) by 0.061s with Perez (1m10.756s) slotting in third from the Mercedes pair of Russell (1m10.857s) and Hamilton (1m10.940s), who kept it late for their laps. Those two dropped Tsunoda (1m11.019s) to sixth.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (1m11.077s) was seventh from the other AlphaTauri of Daniel Ricciardo (1m11.122s) was eighth from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz (1m11.126s) with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri (1m11.189s) rounding the Top 10.
The stewards, meanwhile, put Norris under investigation exceeding the time limit between the safety car lines.
UPDATE: The FIA cleared everyone for the maximum delta times after publishing the final results and the starting grid for the sprint race later on. Here: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2023%20S%C3%A3o%20Paulo%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Final%20Sprint%20Shootout%20Classification.pdf
As expected, the FIA cleared Russell (twice), Ocon and Piastri for the maximum delta time, while there was no ‘one driver’ to be blamed for the incident between Ocon and Alonso. The stewards noted that the Frenchman lost control, while the Spaniard did start to move towards the racing line and the combination of the two created the incident.
The stewards handed reprimand to Norris and Tsunoda for incident during SQ1 where both had to decide whether to maintain the SC time or overtake Tsunoda and Leclerc respectively, which could have led to an impeding case. The stewards accepted the saying but advised that they could have done better to stick to the delta time.