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Sao Paulo GP

Sao Paulo Grand Prix: F1 Qualifying results

Who took pole for Sunday's Grand Prix?

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Qualifying for the Grand Prix in Sao Paulo took place after the only practice session. Max Verstappen took pole position, while Charles Leclerc and Lance Stroll followed in P2 and P3.

Ricciardo in Sao Paulo
Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT04 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 03, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)
Before qualifying in Sao Paulo

Rain fell repeatedly throughout the day, but just before Qualifying, it seemed dry. The risk of rain for the session was still 60% – would this play a surprising role? When the small rain cells hit the track, they do so with full force.

A quick reminder: today’s Qualifying sets the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix. All tyre compounds are permitted. In contrast, for the Sprint Shootout, which sets the grid for the sprint on Saturday, medium compound tyres are mandatory for SQ1 and SQ2 and soft compound tyres for SQ3.

Carlos Sainz set the fastest time in the only practice session – a 1:11.732. His team-mate Charles Leclerc finished second with +0.108.

Q1

After a delay of around 15 minutes due to debris on the track, the first 18-minute qualifying segment began.

As there was only one practice session, it was challenging to name any favourites. One thing was clear: all eyes were on McLaren and Red Bull, who have yet to show their full potential. There was also the question of how Aston Martin had recovered since the race in Mexico – did Alonso and Stroll fare better today?

Oscar Piastri was the first to wait for the green light at the end of the pit lane. Everyone else was also on their way onto the track – was this the fear of potential rain? For Kevin Magnussen, this would give him positive memories of last year’s qualifying session, which he finished in first place.

The first fast laps rolled in – at the front: Lando Norris with a 1:10.623, Max Verstappen +0.321 seconds behind. As expected, all the drivers were on track with the soft tyres.

The Ferraris’ first laps were not particularly fast. They were just under a second slower than Norris’ lap, but Sainz and Leclerc were on used tyres.

Verstappen reported: “My car is jumping around like a kangaroo.”

He then drove back into the pits.

And, as in Mexico, there were still investigations due to impeding in the pit lane. Russell was driving slowly as Gasly attempted to overtake on his left, pointing out that Russell wasn’t following the new directive to stay on the left for a slower exit.

Leclerc tried another fast lap and managed to overtake Norris. He clocked a 1:10.472. Sainz was behind him with a time of +1:10.900.

Halfway through the session, Bottas, Sargeant, Albon, Perez, and Zhou were at the bottom of the standings and in danger of dropping out of Qualifying.

Perez made it out of the dangerous area with a 1:10.668 – landing him in P5 for the time being.

Lance Stroll got everything out of his Aston Martin and initially finished in P3 with a 1:10.551.

Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo, who were gaining ground with their AlphaTauri in Mexico, found it a little more difficult in Brazil. With five minutes left, Tsunoda was P9 and Ricciardo P14.

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes decided to put on another set of soft tyres – they didn’t seem confident that their time would be enough.

Russell set the fastest time with a 1:10.340, while Hülkenberg put in a fast lap, just +0.135 seconds behind Russell.

Eliminated at the end of Q1: Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Logan Sargeant and Guanyu Zhou.

Q2

Rain had already announced itself at the end of Q1 – would it hit in the second segment?

With 15 drivers remaining, Verstappen was the first to drive out of the pitlane. The rain radars were showing small spots of rain around the track, and the drivers were geared up to complete a sufficient lap as quickly as possible.

Verstappen’s first lap was a 1:10.162, team-mate Perez +0.208. Alex Albon set a 1:10.840.

Fernando Alonso set a first lap that was +0.696 seconds slower than Verstappen’s – Lance Stroll, on the other hand, was only +0.226 seconds slower, putting the Canadian in third place in the meantime.

However, both McLaren were faster, with Norris in P2 with a 1:10.323 and Piastri just seven thousandths slower.

There was little to be seen of the Ferraris until 10 minutes before the end of the session in Sao Paulo, with Leclerc in P11 and Sainz in P13. George Russell split them in the Mercedes.

Both Haas, who made it into Q2, ended up in P8 and P9 with their first laps – Hülkenberg with a 1:10.623, Magnussen a tenth slower behind.

Leclerc and Sainz got something out of their Ferraris, Sainz finishing P2 with a 1:10.254. Leclerc moved up to P5.

Lando Norris set a new best time: 1:10.021, and Fernando Alonso moved up to P3 with a gap of +0.216 seconds to Norris.

Looking at the final five places in the standings that would be eliminated were both Haas, both Alpines and Alex Albon due to a cancelled lap time.

With the track cooling down, the drivers seemed to be struggling – for Stroll in P10, it came down to a showdown. Was Gasly faster than him?

But nothing changed. Out in Q2: Nico Hülkenberg, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen and Alex Albon.

Q3

According to Ferrari’s strategists, rain was expected in Sao Paulo – 7 minutes into the session.

So the drivers rushed again to escape the dark clouds and set a fast lap before the rain fell.

Verstappen set the fastest time with 1:10.727, Leclerc followed in second place with +0.294 seconds, while Norris set a slow lap, +1.260 seconds behind Verstappen.

Lance Stroll finished in P3 again, +0.617 seconds behind Verstappen. Alonso was just behind him in P4. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell lined up after the Aston Martins.

Piastri spun at turn 12, which affected Perez’s lap. He remained in P9, Piastri in P10.

The rain came – red flag

With six minutes left in the session, the dark clouds opened up, and the rain began to fall.

For qualifying, this meant that the fastest laps were set, and now it was all about gaining experience in the wet.

But before anyone could come out of the pits again, the red flag came out, and the session was ended – the helicopter couldn’t fly in these conditions, and the risk of something happening was too significant.

Final results

Feature Image Creidt: Nelson ALMEIDA / AFP via Getty Images

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