until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Verstappen on pole, track limits dramas for McLaren and Perez

by Josh Suttill
2 min read

Max Verstappen will start the Qatar Grand Prix from pole position after topping qualifying, while Lando Norris lost a front row start due to a track limits deletion.

Norris grappled with track limits throughout the qualifying hour and ultimately fell foul on his final Q3 lap – dropping from second to 10th owing to his final infringement in qualifying.

He had been just under three tenths slower than Verstappen - who proved untouchable as his initial lap was good enough for pole position, meaning an error on his final lap carried no consequences.

More misery was in store for McLaren shortly after qualifying as Oscar Piastri had his final lap deleted while giving his parc ferme interview after (initially) qualifying third. He'd dropped to sixth on the grid by the end of his interview.

Norris’s despair was George Russell’s delight as he secured his second front row in three races.

The 2021 Qatar GP winner Lewis Hamilton will line up behind Russell in third, with Fernando Alonso achieving Aston Martin’s best qualifying since Montreal in fourth, ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

Piastri ended up sixth, ahead of Alpine - which had two cars inside the top 10 for the first time since Barcelona, with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon in seventh and eighth.

Valtteri Bottas brought Alfa Romeo into Q3 for the first time since Budapest but was slowest of all in the pole position shootout, ending up ninth on the grid after Norris’s laptime deletion.

Sergio Perez failed to progress to Q3 for the eighth time this season after his fastest Q2 time (which was narrowly good enough for Q3) was scrubbed for track limits.

That left Perez in 13th only ahead of the Williams of Alex Albon and the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg.

Perez wasn’t the only big name eliminated in Q2 though, with Singapore GP winner Carlos Sainz knocked out in 12th right behind Yuki Tsunoda – Sainz’s worst qualifying of the 2023 season so far.

Under-pressure F1 rookie Logan Sargeant was knocked out of Q1 by team-mate Albon by just 0.092s in 16th place, ahead of Lance Stroll - who was 1.1s slower than Alonso when he went out of Q1 for the fourth consecutive weekend.

Stroll was furious after his elimination, showing it in the garage after getting out of the car and his post-qualifying interview with F1TV, where his first answer had to be bleeped for expletives.

Liam Lawson was 18th in his final grand prix qualifying session as Daniel Ricciardo’s stand-in ahead of Kevin Magnussen’s Haas and Zhou Guanyu, who was slowest in qualifying as he suffered his sixth consecutive Q1 exit.

Qatar GP qualifying results
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