FormulaNerds Cut To The Race Podcast

Qatar Grand Prix: F1 Qualifying Results

An hour-long session to set the starting grid for Sunday's race at the Losail International Circuit

Latest Episode | Cut To The Race Podcast

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start the Qatar Grand Prix on pole after a masterful Qualifying performance.

Image
Championship leader Max Verstappen topped the sole practice session of the weekend (Image Credit: @F1 on X)

As with all Sprint weekends, Qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix took place on Friday. The sun fell below the horizon and the floodlights bathed the track in a bright white glow, ready for 60 minutes of on-the-limit driving.

A sole practice session earlier in the day was all the teams had to optimise setups and get used to the circuit. Max Verstappen was the usual suspect topping the timing screens, closely followed by the Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

The Dutchman can claim his third successive Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship this weekend, only needing to outscore teammate Sergio Perez by three points over the weekend.

Red Bull already secured the Constructors’ crown at the preceding Japanese Grand Prix, where Verstappen returned to winning ways following an off-colour round in Singapore.

While Verstappen and Red Bull are runaway leaders in both Standings, the battle for second in the Constructors’ Championship remains up in the air. Mercedes hold a 20-point advantage over Ferrari, with Aston Martin a further 64 points behind. But the momentum has recently shifted to Woking-based McLaren, who managed a double-podium with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri around Suzuka.

A solid starting position for the race is important around the Losail International Circuit; who will give themselves the best shot of winning the Qatar Grand Prix? Read on to find out.

Q1

There were strong winds gusting across the circuit, which would no doubt prove difficult for the 20 drivers to deal with over the session.

First out of the pits were the two Red Bulls, with Perez ahead of Verstappen. The Mexican got the first time on the board: a 1:28.495. This was duly beaten by Verstappen, who went over a second quicker with a 1:26.884.

Fernando Alonso impressed early on for Aston Martin with a 1:26.715, usurping Verstappen at the top of the timing screens. Pierre Gasly slotted into second, which became fourth as Norris and Leclerc claimed the top two positions.

A few drivers fell foul of track limits, as Norris dropped to the bottom with his time deleted, along with Lance Stroll. Stroll eventually got a time on the board, a 1:27.287 good enough for P9.

As rubber was laid down on the track, times began to tumble. Alonso reclaimed the top spot with a 1:25.685, while Alpine’s Esteban Ocon took second over seven tenths behind. Leclerc went quicker still, but took liberties on track limits which meant the time was deleted.

The two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell came out of the pits with less than ten minutes of Q1 remaining, along with Nico Hulkenberg. The latter moved up to 14th position, while the Mercedes pair occupied second and third.

Under pressure was Norris, who was yet to set a representative lap time. With just three minutes left, the young Briton snatched P1 with a 1:25.131

The Red Bulls weren’t completely safe, with Verstappen and Perez seventh and 13th respectively. While Leclerc moved up to the top two with a 1:25.452, Perez could only improve to P5. Verstappen was the next driver to set the fastest lap, a 1:25.007 over a tenth quicker than Norris. But with a threat of time deletions, nobody was safe.

The chequered flag was waved; one last opportunity for the drivers. Both Liam Lawson and Stroll improved, but couldn’t get themselves out of the bottom five places. Alexander Albon knocked his teammate Logan Sargeant out of Q1 at the death.

Eliminated:

16. Logan Sargeant

17. Lance Stroll

18. Liam Lawson

19. Kevin Magnussen

20. Guanyu Zhou

Image

Q2

Piastri was keen to get a banker lap on board as soon as possible. He crossed the line with a 1:25.745 to momentarily to go top of the timings. Leclerc was next to to claim the top position with a 1:25.438, which was duly beaten by Gasly then Verstappen, the latter the first to set a time in the 1:24s.

Russell became the second to hit the 1:24s with a 1:24.964, just over two tenths slower than Verstappen. Teammate Hamilton slotted into third.

Once again Norris was under threat, as he failed to set a fast lap after being impeded by an AlphaTauri. The cameras focussed on Sainz, in the knockout zone in P13. He improved on the first sector, but fell foul of track limits twice and aborted his effort.

The two McLarens had to improve, and they did. Piastri moved himself up to the top of the times with a 1:24.724, which became second as Norris set a 1:24.685.

Next to cross the line was Leclerc who improved slightly to claim fifth. Meanwhile Sainz had to set a better lap; with less than a minute to go the Spaniard wrestled his Ferrari up to ninth. Verstappen moved back up to P1, while Valtteri Bottas and Perez moved Sainz out of the top 10. Bottas was next to be knocked out, as Ocon moved out of the bottom five and up to sixth.

Hamilton set a 1:24.381 to go top of the timing screens. In a cruel twist, Perez’s time was deleted and he was surprisingly knocked out in Q2, meaning Bottas would make it into the final Qualifying session.

Eliminated:

11. Yuki Tsunoda

12. Carlos Sainz

13. Sergio Perez

14. Alexander Albon

15. Nico Hulkenberg

Image

Q3

12 minutes to decide pole position for the Qatar Grand Prix. Bottas was the first to get a time on the board with a 1:25.586.

Leclerc aborted his lap after going wide at Turn 5, while Alonso beat Bottas’ time with a 1:25.257. This was quickly beaten by Norris, whose 1:24.088 was subsequently deleted for a track limits violation. Instead it was his teammate Piastri who moved up to provisional pole, but not for long. Verstappen set a 1:23.778 to top the timing screens, over three-quarters of a second faster than Piastri.

Hamilton with a 1:24.305 was good enough for P2, while Russell claimed third just over a tenth behind.

The drivers peeled into the pits to prepare for one last dash for pole. Russell monetarily stopped in the middle of the pitlane, holding up Piastri directly behind. A possible reprimand coming the Mercedes driver’s way.

Norris only had one opportunity to set a quick lap. He duly set a 1:24.074 to move onto the front row provisionally. Russell moved above his teammate, while Piastri split the two Mercedes cars with a 1:24.228.

Unfortunately for Norris, his front row start was snatched away as he put all four tyres beyond the white lines yet again. He will start Sunday’s race from tenth position.

Same for Piastri, who moved down to P6 after having his quickest time deleted. This meant the two Mercedes of Russell and Hamilton would start the Grand Prix from P2 and P3 respectively.

But the only driver to set a time in the 1:23s; Verstappen took his tenth pole position of the 2023 campaign.

Final Qualifying Classification

Image

Full Qualifying results can be found here.

Feature Image Credit: @F1 on X

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.

Back to the top