The Friday in F1 Brazil GP was tricky due to weather which sprung in a shock pole in qualifying for the sprint weekend ahead.
The weather conditions on Friday of F1 Brazil GP’s sprint weekend at Interlagos turned the tables as Haas’ Kevin Magnussen secured his first pole ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. His timing in Q3 was spot on as was the red flag by Mercedes’ George Russell.
That allowed Russell to retain third after rain did rest of the job. The Dane knows he won’t have the pace to hold on to his lead to start the Sunday’s race on pole but he is there to savour the moment considering it his career’s first-ever pole and also Haas’.
Although the rain prediction for Saturday could still come to Magnussen’s aide, while Verstappen will like to take firm control to secure another sprint win. At the same time, Russell will look to finish and start ahead of the Ferrari duo in their battle.
While Carlos Sainz managed fifth, Charles Leclerc was left high and dry after strategy goof-up at the start of Q3 where he was the only one on the intermediate tyres. It left him 10th and his actions derailed Red Bull’s Sergio Perez who was only ninth.
Magnussen: “It’s been a long time, yeah, and I still can’t really believe it. What a phenomenal job the team did to put me out on pit lane as the first car to give me the best piece of track. It was starting to rain, so that was the crucial part today, just getting the best track for me, and amazing job by them, you know. Absolutely, I’m a racing driver, I’m on pole position… Yeah, maximum attack. Let’s go for something funny. It was Q3, you’ve got to go for it. The car was strong, we were in contention for Q3, we were looking good enough for that, but it was always a bit drizzle, not fully dry, so our car was perfect for that.
“Today the big difference was getting me out into the pit lane as the first car and giving me the best piece of track there today. I think it [pole] feels better. I didn’t know what to expect back then. I came in as this arrogant little kid thinking I was the king of the world and then I had a lot of lessons after that, showing how difficult it really is in this sport, and now I’m on pole position, so I’ve just got to enjoy it. Yeah I’ve just got to enjoy this moment until tomorrow, lining up on pole position and seeing my car, my white little Haas car there on pole position, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Verstappen: “It was pretty tricky conditions, you just had to stay on track to do your laps at the right time. I think at the end of the day, we did that in Q1, Q2, it’s just Q3 we knew that it was going to be that first lap and I went to Turn 8, and I locked up a bit. Just difficult out there but still on the front row and that is what is important. I will always try to have fun, but I think the approach should always be the same. But let’s see how competitive we are going to be tomorrow in the [Sprint]. But also, the weather, I have no clue what is going to happen, but that makes Interlagos special for everyone.”
Leclerc: “We were expecting some rain, which never came. I will speak with the team and try and understand what we can do better in those conditions. But I’m extremely disappointed. There was [a big opportunity for us today]. We still have the car. But now we need to get on it and do everything good for the rest of the weekend.”
Russell: “What was going through my mind was getting a really bad headache. I’d broken the headrest because my head was banging so much and it was a pretty unpleasant experience. And then I lost the rear and I booted [the accelerator] – I wanted to do a 360 – then dipped the rears in the gravel. Probably not the wisest choice I ever made, but as it turned out, we knew that first lap was it. There should be no damage. Always a bit tentative when it’s being lifted up onto the tow truck and the guys are going to have to take the car to pieces tonight just to make sure we’ve got all the gravel out – but it should be okay.
“I think probably more mixed emotions because we were obviously one of the last cars to go out in qualifying and it was such a unique experience, because as the lap progressed, the rain was just falling harder and harder. I got to the last corner, and it was a lot wetter than it was on the lap before – so we had to be really tentative – but massive congrats to Kevin and Haas. This is what Formula 1 and sport is about, to have some crazy results like this. But for us, P3, good place to start for the Sprint tomorrow.”
The battle behind had McLaren up against Alpine with Lando Norris ahead in fourth but the latter had both their cars in the Top 10 where Esteban Ocon finished ahead of Fernando Alonso. Only to miss out was Daniel Ricciardo due to his mistake.
He was outside the Top 10 which had Williams’ Alexander Albon in 11th while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was just behind him along with Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel. The biggest to lose out was both the Alfa Romeo cars who were knocked out in Q1 itself.
Norris: “Yesterday I was struggling a lot. I really didn’t think I was going to be driving today, so I’m good, good enough to drive and go out and do some good laps, which I did today. I think we did a perfect job today from the team side, from my side. I don’t think we could have done anything much better than what we did: P1 in Q1, P2 in Q2 and even P4 in the end. We went out last, which maybe wasn’t a perfect decision at the end of the day, but we took away a lot of other risks in doing so and I still went P4, even with the wettest track, so I’m really happy.
“I think things will even out a little bit. You’re going to see the Red Bulls coming back through, you’re going to see Ferrari coming back through a bit, Mercedes as well, so I think things will slowly return to normal. Maybe not just tomorrow – I think most people might be able to keep positions tomorrow, but until Sunday, you’ll see that. I think today, conditions just give drivers a better chance to do good things; it’s not all about the car on a day like today, and I feel like I proved that, and I feel like K-Mag [Magnussen] proved exactly that today.”
Ocon: “I’d like to first congratulate Haas and Kevin [Magnussen] for their result today. They took a risk and it paid off, so I am happy for them. For us, it was of course a challenging Qualifying session but, in the end, it’s a good result for the team, finishing in sixth and seventh. It was very tricky today with the weather and we managed tyre choices well, which was important. Tomorrow is a great opportunity as the grid is quite mixed up compared to what we’re used to, so we’ll need to be at our best to take home the valuable points on offer for the Sprint.”
Albon: “As a car, what makes our tyres work is different to most people, so we were really doing our own thing today. We did a really good job with P11 and at a track like this, it’s not easy and it was really close out there. We were only a couple tenths behind P5, so I’m really proud and think we did a great job. This hopefully sets us up for the rest of the weekend, but we’ll see what we can do out there tomorrow.”
Gasly: “We took the risk in Q1, as the first to fit the Slicks, and it really paid off. We knew it would be really tight as the track dried in Q2, and we missed out on Q3 by just four tenths today but overall, I think it’s been a positive Quali and I have to be happy with the laps I have done. The pace was obviously there, so it’s a bit of a missed opportunity that we weren’t able to get through to Q3, especially when you see who’s on pole. I think we’re in a strong position to make up some places tomorrow in the Sprint and move forward for the race on Sunday.”
Vettel: “I always like these conditions. It was slippery out there, and very tricky to correctly judge the weather. We missed out on getting through to Q3 by a tenth – maybe even a bit less – which makes you think about where you could have made up that time. But, to be honest, I was pretty happy with the lap – then it started to drizzle, so maybe the timing was not ideal. It is a shame because I thought we could have got through today. There is lots to play for tomorrow and on Sunday.”
Bottas: “It’s a disappointing result, especially after we looked strong in FP1 earlier today. In the end, we made the call to go with intermediate tyres when pitting and that turned out to be the wrong choice: on my in-lap, I saw a Williams struggling and decided to stay on the inters. We realised softs were the best option and pitted again, but two laps were not enough to bring these tyres into temperature. Still, there’s everything to play for: we have two days to get into the points and, given our pace in the dry, we still have a chance to bring home a good result.”
Here’s how F1 Brazil GP qualifying panned out