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Formula 1

Verstappen on Brazilian GP pole as storm stops F1 qualifying

by Ben Anderson
3 min read

Max Verstappen claimed pole position for the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix as a sudden storm ruined what was shaping up to be a close fight with McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Norris was 0.141 seconds quicker than Verstappen’s Red Bull in Q2, but wasn’t on track early enough to carry that fight into Q3. Teams expected to have enough time to do one clear dry run, but nearly everyone encountered worsening grip on their flying laps.

Verstappen made it round Interlagos in 1m10.727s - which was almost six tenths slower than his Q2 best - but that was still good enough to beat Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari to pole by almost three tenths of a second.

Aston Martin locked out the second row of the grid, with Lance Stroll ahead of Fernando Alonso by just 0.033s. Reverting to an older aero specification seems to be working very well for that team on this circuit.

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell rounded out the top six, while Norris had to settle for a disappointing seventh having lapped more than 1.9s off his Q2 best and more than 1.2s off Verstappen’s pole lap as the rain arrived.

Carlos Sainz went off the track through the middle of the Senna S on his Q3 lap, leaving him eighth, ahead of only Sergio Perez’s Red Bull - which was only half a tenth off Verstappen in Q2 - and Oscar Piastri’s McLaren, which failed to set a time in Q3 after going off at the final corner.

Post-session investigations may yet affect Russell and Stroll - who were noted for pitlane exit impeding and a too-slow outlap respectively.

Both Alpines and the two Haas drivers joined Alex Albon’s Williams in being eliminated in Q2.

Nico Hulkenberg and 2022 Interlagos pole position winner Kevin Magnussen were inside the top 10 after their first runs, but slipped out as others improved.

Hulkenberg went faster on his final run but fell 0.172s short of Stroll’s top-10 cut-off lap.

Having just about scraped through Q1 it was perhaps no surprise to see Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly both eliminated in Q2. They were each on the same tenth as Hulkenberg (1m10.5s), and both are involved in post-session investigations over pit-exit impeding.

Magnussen was 14th after failing to improve on a 1m10.723s lap on his final run, while Albon had a quicker lap than his 1m10.840s effort deleted for a track limits offence, but even retaining that faster time wouldn’t have changed his grid position.

The Williams driver and Magnussen were the only two not to go faster in Q2 than they did in Q1.,After the qualifying heroics of Mexico, where Daniel Ricciardo was fourth quickest, both he and AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda were eliminated in an extremely tight Q1 battle where just 0.453s covered fastest to 15th place.

Many drivers had to use extra sets of soft tyres such was the competition over one of F1’s shortest laps, and with his final effort of the session, Ocon bumped Tsunoda out of Q2.

Ocon’s Alpine team-mate Gasly relied on an earlier time to survive elimination. He was less than half a tenth from missing the cut.

Tsunoda was quicker than Ricciardo - who messed up heading into the Senna S on his quickest lap - just 0.006s the difference between 16th and 17th on the grid, while both Alfa Romeos and Logan Sargeant’s Williams joined the AlphaTauris in being knocked out in Q1.

Valtteri Bottas was just over a tenth down on Ricciardo, while neither Sargeant nor Zhou Guanyu made it below 1m11s when better than 1m10.793s was needed to progress to Q2.

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