Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari 1-2 in F1 Las Vegas GP pole with Carlos Sainz in second from Max Verstappen after big dropouts.
Just before the start of F1 Las Vegas GP qualifying, the FIA handed a 5-place grid penalty to Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll for overtaking under double yellows. The Canadian passed Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz where the flags were waved even though the panel didn’t show.
The track evolution was massive, but Ferrari were 1-2 at the front with Charles Leclerc on top with a 1m33.617s ahead of Carlos Sainz, with Mercedes’ George Russell slotting in third after a late quick lap from the Brit to put him in third from 15th.
The dropzone had both the McLaren drivers in a disaster of a qualifying for the F1 team. Lando Norris missed out Q2 by 0.020s in 16th with a 1m34.703s lap, as teammate Oscar Piastri was 19th with a 1m34.850s lap.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (1m34.834s) was 17th from Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu (1m34.849s), with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda (1m36.447s) in 20th. The Japanese driver had multiple laps deleted and also caused a yellow flag moment.
That flag caught out Stroll as he was put under investigation for failing to slow down. Among others, Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton & Russell, Alfa Romeo pair of Valtteri Bottas & Guanyu and Williams’ Alexander Albon were also put under investigation for failing to adhere to maximum delta time.
The second part in F1 Las Vegas GP qualifying saw more track evolution situation and it caught out two big fishes. Mercedes’ Hamilton (1m33.837s) missed out by 0.028s while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez (1m33.855s) did so by 0.046s to be 11th and 12th.
The Mexican pitted with over two minutes remaining in a strange strategy from Red Bull. Haas Nico Hulkenberg was 13th with a 1m33.979s lap ahead of Aston Martin’s Stroll (1m34.199s) and AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo (1m34.308s).
At the front, meanwhile, it was another Ferrari 1-2 where Leclerc set the pace with a 1m32.775s lap from Sainz and Mercedes’ Russell again, as only Ferrari and Williams managed to have both their cars to make it in the Top 10.
The final part in F1 Las Vegas GP qualifying saw Ferrari continue to show their hand after first run where Leclerc had provisional pole after a 1m33.021s lap but teammate Sainz was not far off in second with just the 0.022s margin.
Even Red Bull’s Verstappen was not far behind, only 0.083s behind Leclerc. The second run saw Leclerc improve further with a 1m32.726s lap to secure F1 Las Vegas GP pole from Ferrari teammate Sainz (1m32.770s), who has a 10-place grid penalty.
Verstappen (1m33.104s) pitted after a poor final lap as Russell slotted in fourth ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly (1m33.239s) with the Williams pair of Alexander Albon (1m33.323s) and Sargeant (1m33.513s) securing the team’s best qualifying result in sixth and seventh.
Alfa Romeo’s Bottas (1m33.525s) did well in eighth ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen (1m33.537s) and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso (1m33.555s).
Here’s decision on Lance Stroll’s penalty: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2023%20Las%20Vegas%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Infringement%20-%20Car%2018%20-%20Overtaking%20under%20Yellow%20Flags.pdf
UPDATE: As expected, the FIA had no further action regarding not following race directors’ note. The drivers involved were Hamilton, Russell, Albon, Gunayu, Gasly and Bottas. Here: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2023%20Las%20Vegas%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Decision%20-%20Qualifying%20SC2-SC1%20Times.pdf
Stroll was cleared by the stewards too for speeding under yellow flag during qualifying. He still has the grid penalty from his practice breach. Here: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2023%20Las%20Vegas%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Decision%20-%20Car%2018%20-%20Alleged%20failing%20to%20slow%20under%20Yellow%20Flags.pdf