Max Verstappen took pole in F1 Brazil GP ahead of Charles Leclerc and Lance Stroll after heavy rain ended the session early.
It was a delayed start to F1 Brazil GP qualifying in sprint weekend due to track cleaning after FP1. There was risk of rain and dark clouds hovered around the circuit which rushed teams into going earlier and almost everyone had to rush out.
The late lap from Mercedes’ George Russell led the way with a 1m10.340s lap with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in second and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in third. The Brit is under investigation for impeding Alpine’s Pierre Gasly at the pit exit.
Gasly is also under investigation for impeding Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was noted for not following the Race Directors’ note. The dropzone saw both the AlphaTauri getting knocked out in 16th and 17th.
Yuki Tsunoda was ahead in 16th with a 1m10.837s time which was only 0.044s off Gasly’s time. The Japanese driver complained about impeding by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, as teammate Daniel Ricciardo was 17th with a 1m10.843s lap.
Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas (1m10.955s) was 18th with teammate Zhou Guanyu (1m11.275s) in 20th after they completed their run early due to rain threat, while Williams’ Logan Sargeant (1m11.035s) slotted in 19th.
The rain threat was still there in second part of F1 Brazil GP qualifying but it remained dry all-through with McLaren’s Lando Norris on top with a 1m10.021s lap. He led the Red Bull pair of Verstappen and Sergio Perez in the Top 3 positions.
The dropzone saw Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg lose out in 11th with a 1m10.547s lap. He led the Alpine pair of Ocon and Gasly in 12th and 13th where the former set the best time of 1m10.562s with the latter setting a time of 1m10.567s – only 0.005s behind.
Haas’ Kevin Magnussen (1m10.723s) was 14th and complained about a Ferrari coming in his way on his fast lap but the replays showed nothing major. Williams’ Alexander Albon (1m10.840s) was 15th after his quick lap was deleted due to track limits at Turn 4.
The final part has a rush through in F1 Brazil GP qualifying as rain was imminent and teams rushed out barring Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, Perez, Norris and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri who were at the back of the pack led by Aston Martin.
Verstappen led the way with a 1m10.727s lap which was enough to secure F1 Brazil GP pole for Sunday’s race as rain arrived with about five minutes to go and ended the session early. Leclerc was second with a 1m11.021s with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll third.
He set a 1m11.344s lap to secure a Top 3 finish ahead of teammate Alonso (1m11.387s), as Hamilton (1m11.469s) was fifth from teammate Russell (1m11.590s). Eventually Norris (1m11.987s) lost out in seventh as conditions started to change.
Likewise Sainz (1m11.989s) was eighth from Perez (1m12.321s) with Piastri having off in a cold track which meant he had no lap time set.
UPDATE: The FIA cleared Stroll for not following race directors’ note regarding maximum delta time, but handed 2-place grid drop to Russell for not adhering to the rule to be left as much as possible while exiting the pitlane to allow others through.
UPDATE 2: Both the Alpine pair of Ocon and Gasly have been handed a 2-place grid each for impeding as well. It is a similar case as Russell where they were slow exiting the pitlane to create a gap but they were not to the left which impeded others behind.
As a result of the penalties, Russell will drop to eighth for Sunday helping Norris and Sainz to be sixth and seventh. Ocon was supposed to drop to 14th which would have helped Gasly and Magnussen to be 12th and 13th but due to Gasly’s penalty, Magnussen will be 12th now ahead of Ocon and Gasly – the Dane gaining two places.