Red Bull are still on top ahead of Sunday’s GP, but we’ve got an action-packed Saturday with the sprint first.
(Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Verstappen takes pole at Interlagos
Max Verstappen secured pole position for Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix after dark clouds rolled in and rain ended Q3. Here’s what you need to know:
Aston Martin played their cards right for Q3 with Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso’s early flying laps locking down the second row. Friday marked Stroll’s first time in Q3 since Belgium, with McLaren narrowly missing out in Q3 despite both drivers pushing. Despite being fast early on, Piastre ran into the grass in the Q3 lap. Alfatauri suffered a setback after narrowly beating both Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda in Q1. The Fenza-based crew is 12 points clear of Williams in P7 in the Constructors’ standings. These results are not final: the stewards will be looking at a few instances of obstruction exiting the pit lane and may result in penalties.
And that’s a wrap on Friday in Sao Paulo.
Remember this is Sprint weekend (sixth and final of the year). That means it starts tomorrow at 10 am ET (2 pm GMT) with a sprint shot. That sets the order for the Sprint itself, which starts at 2.30pm (6.30pm GMT) and runs 24 laps.
When it comes to wild weather, Interlagos doesn’t mess around. Tomorrow and Sunday should be dry, but if it is a little cloudy.
“The sky was black.”
Max Verstappen spoke about his pole lap in his post-qualifying press conference, and like Stroll, he struggled mightily as the rain approached towards the end of the session.
“The sky was black,” Verstappen said. “I thought, if that rain hits, it’s going to be a lot…
“The first sector felt good, and the rest of the lap was shocking. The wind picked up a lot and in the middle sector it changed direction to a tailwind. The car was sliding everywhere, I was shouting on the radio, what the hell, we were nowhere.
“I have never experienced anything like this.”
Bad lap, good result
(Clive Mason – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Third on the grid is a good result for Lance Stroll, but the final lap of qualifying was not good at all.
“The car felt good throughout the session,” Stroll said. “Q3 was very tricky. My lap was really bad, but I think conditions have changed a lot. In the end, it’s a good result for the top three.
The wind and low grip was definitely a matter of getting as much time as possible. Even a lap like the Stroll would have been in better shape than the car behind it, the McLarens paying a heavy price for leaving their lap too late.
For Stroll, this is an important opportunity to build some momentum after his recent struggles. “The last two weekends have been tough,” Stroll said. “We had a good race in Austin, but a few days later in Mexico, a very tough weekend. Today was a great day.”
Gasly, Ocon and Perez called
To stumble on the exit from the hole.
As a reminder, this grid is for Sunday’s grand prix because it’s race day weekend. But an investigation is underway: Pierre Gasly and George Russell have been summoned by the stewards for obstructing the exit of the pit lane. Here’s what the race director’s event notes had to say about this before the weekend.
It’s *flowing* now.
As long as teams are allowed to close their garage doors. Maybe someone needs giant towels to sleep on and keep water out.
Sunday home grid
Here are provisional results from today’s rain-banned Qualifier:
Max Verstappen Charles Leclerc Lance Stroll Fernando Alonso Lewis Hamilton George Russell Lando Norris Carlos Sainz Sergio Perez Oscar Piasteri Nico Hulkenberg Esteban Ocon Pierre Gasly Kevin Magnussen Alex Albionucci Schuano Daniel Ricciardo Logan
Well, the qualification is indeed over
Red flag for crazy weather. Max Verstappen takes the pole, Leclerc P2 and a certainly very sloppy Lance Stroll in P3.
Is it… over?
Those clouds look absolutely apocalyptic, and everyone except Piestri has timed them out. Now everyone is in a hole.
“It looks like it’s raining, but there’s no rain in the area,” Leclerc said. “This is very strange.”
Four minutes on the clock with Verstappen on top.
Wow. If the rain comes, it’s a great qualifying result for Lance Stroll to compete in third place. Does anyone else get into laps?
That’s ugly heaven.
Time to get in early.
Everything happens when the rain approaches. We saw Kevin Magnussen get a shock pole last year when he got a lap at the start before it rained and prevented others from setting a fast lap. Can we see another shocker here?
Ricciardo: AlphaTauri “much faster” than Q1 exit.
Speaking to F1 TV after his Q1 exit at Interlagos, Daniel Ricciardo revealed that he was qualified for the final round of exits. “We were definitely faster than the overall time,” Ricciardo said. “The last lap, I almost spun out in turn 2. I went into turn 1 a little too hot, maybe I didn’t get the tire in the right place for the start of the lap. The first sector, and a little bit and pieces through the lap.
“(It’s) frustrating because we were definitely faster than that, just a few things didn’t quite work out. I went a little deep in Turn 1. That’s where the lap started to turn a little bit.”
Drivers are ready to leave quickly.
It’s a very strong storm, so no one wants to wait to determine the time.
What to do with Q2
Again, a fairly standard set of drivers rolled out in Q2. Perhaps the most surprising duo is Stroll and Alonso for Aston Martin. This is the first time Lance Stroll has made Q3 since Spa in July and the first time he has won a Q1 distraction since Zandvoort. The Aston Martin car is doing better than the last two weekends at Interlagos.
5 minutes before the start of Q3
If you want to hit the head, now is the time to go. Q3 starts in 3 minutes from the clock.