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Qualifying

US Grand Prix: F1 Qualifying Results

All 20 drivers took to the Circuit of the Americas for qualifying in Austin ahead of Sprint Saturday

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Round 19 of the 2023 Formula 1 season saw Charles Leclerc take pole position during Qualifying for Sunday’s United States Grand Prix. Joining the Monegasque in the top three are Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton.

Qualifying - Verstappen
Max Verstappen on track at the Circuit of the Americas ahead of the United States Formula One Grand Prix. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

This weekend is the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. Last time out in Qatar, Max Verstappen sealed the Drivers’ Championship, taking his third consecutive world title. A round before in Suzuka, Red Bull won the Constructors’ Championship. Now the fight is on for P2 in both championships.

Heading into the weekend, McLaren’s confidence wasn’t as high as previous weekends. Lando Norris admitted that this track wouldn’t suit the MCL60 as much as others. But Mercedes were hopeful as they had a rather big upgrade added to the W14, which they hope will tell them whether or not they’re development journey is heading in the right direction.

Free Practice One saw Verstappen go fastest ahead of Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton. Lance Stroll, who has come under fire recently, only managed a couple of laps out on track before he was forced back into the garage with an issue. Oscar Piastri suffered from going wide after going over the kerbs, putting him P19 – only ahead of Stroll.

With only one practice session as it’s a Sprint weekend, the drivers took to the track this evening for Qualifying. Let’s get into what happened during Qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.

Q1

As the drivers began heading out on track, with Logan Sargeant going out first, Ted Kravitz reported that the locals had said it was hotter than previous years. Sargeant began setting a flying lap but after completing the first two sectors, the American decided to come back into the pits.

Drivers began putting lap times on the board and it was Leclerc who went fastest with a 1:36.622 three minutes into the session. Sergio Perez, who has had an unfortunate run of form in qualifying recently, seemed to be back on the pace. The Mexican set a purple sector two, but was just short of going fastest, putting his car P3.

Hamilton began his first flying lap on used soft tyres, going P5, whilst Fernando Alonso put his Aston Martin sixth fastest. However, on the other side of the Aston Martin garage, Stroll came back into the pits after having been out on track; it looked like the brake issues from FP1 were still present, but the Canadian did head back out on track.

Russell went third fastest after Verstappen went quickest overall with a 1:36.470. Further down the order, the Haas drivers, who were racing for the team’s home race this weekend, revealed the improvements their upgrades were supposed to bring. Nico Hulkenberg went 0.235 seconds faster than Verstappen on his first flying lap, bumping Verstappen into second.

Track improvement seemed to come into play as Pierre Gasly then put his Alpine P1. Carlos Sainz, however, had a poor first flying lap putting him in the bottom five with just over five seconds to go. But Sainz found a huge amount of pace during his second qualifying lap, setting two purple sectors; Sainz was a third of a second faster than his teammate, who had just gone P1 moments before.

Final two minutes

Verstappen was busy completing another flying lap whilst others headed out of the pits after changing tyres. The three-time world champion put his car P1 after setting a time of 1:35.346. This time was half a second quicker than Sainz, who decided to stay in the pits.

Those at risk were Albon, Magnussen, Ricciardo, Zhou and Sargeant. After Hamilton improved, easily clearing Verstappen’s time, Albon got out of the bottom five, going eight fastest. Sargeant got out of the bottom five as well, but the American only managed to go P14.

Norris put his McLaren in P2 whilst Russell only went ninth fastest. Ricciardo, who ended up having the slowest time, managed to pull it out the bag to go 12th, knocking Sargeant out of Q1. Albon was also forced into the bottom five after Piastri went 10th. However, Alonso failed to get out of the bottom five making it his first time out of Q1 this season.

Out of Q1

16 – Hulkenberg

17 – Alonso

18 – Albon

19 – Stroll

20 – Sargeant

Q2

The second qualifying session began with Leclerc setting the benchmark time of the session. The Monegasque completed a lap of 1:35.888. However, his time in P1 didn’t last long as both Mercedes went quicker with Russell beating his teammate; however, Russell was on a new set of tyres and Hamilton was on used tyres.

Track limits became an issue once again. Some drivers, including Hulkenberg had times deleted in Q1, but Norris was the next victim in Q2 whilst Piastri went second fastest.

Sainz had a moment at Turn 15. The Ferrari driver radioed that Tsunoda didn’t get out of his way, which forced him to go wide. Norris was also on the radio, explaining that the reason he went off the track was because of traffic.

With five minutes to go, Norris was the only driver who hadn’t set a time. He was at risk as well as Sainz, Zhou, Magnussen and Ricciardo.

Five minutes to go

Norris was one of the first drivers back out on track after they’d come into the pits. Leclerc, who was sat in ninth, managed to improve to go fastest. Sainz made it out of the bottom five after going 0.298 seconds slower than his teammate.

Verstappen only set a time fast enough to split the Ferraris, going P2. The track was getting faster as the final seconds of the session counted down. But Ricciardo had a lap time deleted, bumping him down to 15th.

Hamilton and Russell were both in the bottom five once the clock had counted down. However, Hamilton set a purple sector one and finished the session in P3. Norris got out of the bottom five and finally set a time, going P5, whilst Russell only just improved to go P9, one position ahead of Perez, who was in P10.

Out of Q2

11 – Tsunoda

12 – Zhou

13 – Bottas

14 – Magnussen

15 – Ricciardo

Q3

Five teams made it into Q3: Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, Alpine and McLaren. The two McLaren drivers, Russell and Ocon were on used soft tyres at the beginning of the third qualifying session.

Verstappen set the benchmark time of the session. He completed a lap time of 1:35.081 with two purple sectors. Leclerc went on to provision pole, going a tenth and a half quicker than Verstappen. Sainz made it a Ferrari sandwich for Verstappen going P3 with Norris behind him.

Russell’s time was only good enough for fifth fastest, but the British driver had his lap time deleted due to track limits. Hamilton couldn’t set a time quick enough for provisional pole, but he did manage to put his Mercedes in P2.

Verstappen complained over the radio during a replay after having a moment at the final corner.

Final five minutes

The drivers all came into the pits before heading out for the final few minutes of the session. With four different previous pole-sitters at COTA in recent years, the fight for pole was on.

Leclerc’s final flying lap saw the Ferrari driver retain his provisional pole after setting a time of 1:34.723. Norris went P2 whilst Sainz went fourth fastest.

Verstappen locked up slightly on his fast lap and went off the track. He set a time good enough for P1 but had a lap time deleted, putting him P5. Hamilton’s final flying lap saw him finish P3, 0.139 second behind Norris.

But as the chequered flag was waved, it was Leclerc who kept pole position with Norris joining him on the front row for the Grand Prix.

Order of the top 10

1 – Leclerc

2 – Norris

3 – Hamilton

4 – Sainz

5 – Russell

6 – Verstappen

7 – Gasly

8 – Ocon

9 – Perez

10 – Piastri

Headline image: GettyImages

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