The Friday in F1 Brazil GP sprint weekend saw rain ending qualifying early but not before Max Verstappen securing pole in a levelled grid.
The results after Friday in F1 Brazil GP qualifying were more or less on point apart from Aston Martin finishing ahead of Mercedes and McLaren. The strategy from the latter didn’t work out in Q3 when they kept it late for the rain to arrive and disrupt their laps.
The ones ahead got their laps in early and that’s what secured pole for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen even though he felt the lap wasn’t good. His teammate Sergio Perez left it late and his lap got ruined by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri going off.
This left him only ninth after the Australian lost grip due to heavy wind to go off. He didn’t set a time eventually and his teammate Lando Norris too wasn’t too far ahead from him. The Brit reckoned a F1 pole was possible considering the pace they had.
Also to lose out was Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who went late as well but his teammate Charles Leclerc made it in the front-row. The Monegasque too felt the lap wasn’t good and was surprised to find himself second, but he remains wary of the race pace.
Amid struggles and disappointments, Aston Martin found something to cheer about after Lance Stroll was third and Fernando Alonso slotted in fourth. Both know that their pace was not for a Top 3 finish, but they are gunning for a podium with track position in place.
This left Mercedes pair to end up behind them as Lewis Hamilton felt there was a bit more in the car than the result suggested. His teammate George Russelll ended up behind him but will drop two places to help Norris and Sainz go up by one position.
Verstappen: “The gaps were very, very small between everyone. So yeah, through Q1, Q2, you could see that everyone was using a lot of tyre sets and that made it quite interesting, I think. And then, of course, we lined up to go out for Q3 and you could see the sky was just black. And I was like, wow, if that rain hits it’s going to be a lot. So the out lap was quite quick and then we went for the lap, the first sector felt alright, and then the rest of the lap felt shocking. So I think what happened, of course, throughout the lap was that the rain was coming in, it was not hitting the track yet, but the wind increased a lot. And it changed direction with a tailwind in the middle sector. And yeah, the car was just sliding all over the place. I was shouting on the radio, like, ‘what the hell happened?’ Like, you know, we are nowhere. But the team just told me to keep pushing because they said everyone was struggling out there.
“But I’ve never experienced something like that, that it’s such a big influence on car balance. But you could also see the weather incoming was quite extreme. Early in Q1 and Q2, it was a bit difficult over the bumps. I don’t know why that was the case, because we didn’t really touch the car. And so we need to understand that because, yeah, on the bumps it was not very comfortable. But yeah, we tried to work our way around it. The gaps were just very, very close. I think we were quite competitive. I think no one really knew who was going to be first in Q3 If it would have been a normal session without the weather incoming. But then that makes it quite interesting for Sunday as well, to see how everything will evolve with the long-run pace.”
Leclerc: “It was good. Q1 was really good. We only put one set of new Softs and we were straightaway doing a really good job with the lap, the car was feeling great. We had done quite a bit of change since FP1 and it went in the right direction. So I was happy. In Q2, I just knew I had to just put a lap on the board, which we did and that was good enough. And then in Q3, as Max said, I’ve never experienced that in my career. I mean, the wind change was crazy. There was just absolutely no grip from Sector 2 onwards, which was extremely confusing, because you had no idea where the balance would be in the corner you would get into, and it made things very interesting. But luckily, I kept it more or less tidy. Even though I was thinking of coming in at the end of the lap. It felt so bad that I was like, ‘OK, this is not good enough, I’m P10 for sure’. But luckily, I wasn’t and second place is good. As for the race, we didn’t do a lot of long runs. As always in these type of formats we don’t have time to do enough long runs. So it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen on Sunday. But one thing for sure is that it’s our weakness and we need to work on that. So we’ll try and prepare Sunday and obviously tomorrow in the best way possible.”
Stroll: “Very satisfied. The car was feeling good throughout the whole session, which was good. And yeah, Q3, in the end, was really weird. I think the conditions changed a lot. The wind changed. So my lap was super messy and you know, lock-ups, missing corners, but in the end, good enough for a top three. So that’s good, you know. It was a good session. You know, overall throughout the whole session we were competitive and I was feeling good in the car. So it was definitely a much better day for us than we’ve had in a while. It’s good. I mean, I don’t think we’re third on paper. I mean, the conditions and stuff in Q3 were a little funny. And, you know, I think we managed to execute well, that’s for sure. I think we did well, going early at the front of the queue and getting in our lap early, before the rain came. I know a lot of people missed their laps, or didn’t get clean laps in. So that was a good effort. But we’ll see what we can do in the race. You know, the points are on Sunday. But it’s still a huge step from Mexico and Austin. We had a good race in Austin. But Friday, Saturday were difficult. So today’s definitely the best quali and pace we’ve had in a long time.”
Norris: “It was great, honestly. The car was amazing, easily quick enough probably to be quickest today and on pole, so pretty gutted it had to end the way it did. I don’t know what to feel about it. I think the car was amazing, it came alive a lot in qualifying and easily good enough to be quickest I’d say. Obviously delivering the lap and putting it together in Q3 and everything’s a different job, but easily quick enough, so yeah, disappointed but not a lot we could have done. I look forward to tomorrow. The car’s good, I don’t know if it’s going to be good in the wet, I don’t know if it’s going to be wet or dry tomorrow but in the dry we should be quick enough so, yeah, [today’s] a shame.”
Piastri: “I just lost a lot of grip. I don’t know if it was already raining or what, but I was struggling a lot already on the lap. I think everyone was, based on how slow the laps were. Yeah, not sure, just went in how I thought I did the last lap and slid straight off so a shame. The pace in the car was looking good but, yeah, try again tomorrow. I think it was going well. It’s a difficult track to get right and get it all together but, no, it’s been a good day in terms of pace. It’s just obviously this weather’s thrown a spanner in the works and, yeah, just need to look at what went wrong in Q3.”
Hamilton: “P5 is never going to feel that great. I did the best I could though and hopefully we will have a better race on Sunday. The car was showing signs of decent performance, but we did seem to be a couple of tenths off the guys right at the very front. We made a few changes ahead of qualifying and it did seem to make the car a little nicer to drive. In general though, it wasn’t particularly fast. Having said that, the conditions and circumstances at the end of Q3 have maybe put us slightly further back than our true pace would have showed. It is difficult to say with any confidence though. Over the rest of the weekend, I think we’ve got a bit of a battle on our hands. Overheating with brakes and managing tyres will be important but if we can use our strategy to progress forward, then we will do that.”
Outside the Top 10, it was a close fight and Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg found himself in a good position in 11th as both him and teammate Kevin Magnussen made it out of Q1 to have a better session than the recent results they have had.
Even the Alpine pair made it out of Q1 but could only manage a Q2 finish plus they have grid penalty due to impeding. Pierre Gasly noted about an upshift issue which somewhat hampered his running but overall he admitted to be lacking pace.
It was same for Williams’ Alexander Albon who stated that they were struggling due to overheating of tyres. His teammate was knocked out in Q1 along with the Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri pair where Daniel Ricciardo reckoned they were good for Q3.
Hulkenberg: “Being honest, the morning was difficult to read because a lot of people didn’t run the soft compound, so it wasn’t the real picture. I think before this weekend if you had told me we’d get P11, I would’ve taken it. It was a clean session, with clean laps, and there was nothing left to give.”
Gasly: “It’s always disappointing to be out in Q2 but there is plenty still up for grabs this weekend. I lost some time on my second push lap in Q2, mainly due to an upshift issue, so that is something we need to investigate. It would have been close to reach Q3 so we will certainly assess what we can improve next time. In general, I would say we are lacking a little bit of pace here but we do have our eyes on Saturday and Sunday to score points, so I’m certainly looking forward to that. Tomorrow is the final Sprint of the year. We will aim to fix some small details ahead of the Shootout and then give it our all to come away with points in the Sprint Race.”
Albon: “My Q1 lap was very good but I think as a team, we know we’re struggling, as it’s so easy to overheat the tyres. Corner after corner there’s no way for the tyres to rest, so as soon as you do one corner quickly, you lose it on the next as a result of overheating. There’s a lot to learn and Sunday is going to be a big management race with the tyres not enjoying this kind of circuit. We’ve saved a set of Softs, so hopefully that will help us tomorrow.”
Ricciardo: “It’s frustrating because we were definitely faster than what we showed, and there was the potential for Q2, and maybe even Q3, but we didn’t get it right on the last lap. I didn’t get the tyres in the right spot for the start of the lap, so I came too hot into Turn 1, and we lost a chunk of time in the first Sector. From then on, the lap started to spiral a little. On the other hand, I’m happy with the improvements I found in the car compared to the morning. I’ll have a look tonight at how we can extract the performance for the remainder of the weekend.”
Bottas: “We haven’t been able to make it past Q1 today, which is quite unfortunate, as we think our pace could have allowed us to get into a better fight. Unfortunately, margins are so small that any minor difference can have a huge impact in terms of position – and we saw that today, when we missed the cut for less than two tenths. Starting from the second-to-last row on Sunday surely isn’t ideal; we have some work to ahead of tomorrow, but we have seen before how unpredictable races can get here: with a decent start and an aggressive strategy, we could still have a chance to charge through the field.”
Here’s how F1 Brazil GP qualifying panned out
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