Max Verstappen dominates all three segments of qualifying at Interlagos to record his second career pole position. This Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying result is a fantastic birthday present to his boss, Christian Horner. P1 is such a nice bonus on the cake.
The Red Bull Racing driver, who secured his maiden Formula 1 pole in Hungary earlier this season, beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 0.123 seconds and the 2019 world champion Hamilton by 0.191 seconds.
Verstappen was quickest on the first run in Q3, but only by tiny margin of 0.008 seconds from Vettel after running wide out of the Turn 9 left-hander.
But he improved on his final run to post a time of one minute, 07.508 seconds, which gave him pole position by 0.123 seconds thanks to Vettel’s failure to improve.
Mercedes driver and the 2019 world champion Lewis Hamilton jumped to third at the end of qualifying, lapping 0.191 seconds off the pace and pushing Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari down to fourth.
Leclerc carries a 10-place grid drop into the race for an power unit change, meaning he will start P14 assuming no new penalties are issued.
In addition, Charles is the only driver to use medium Pirellis to set his time in Q2, meaning he will start on that set of tyres with the rest of the top ten starting on softs.
Valtteri Bottas was fifth in the Mercedes after failing to improve on his second run, with Alex Albon rounding out the top six and 0.427s off his Red Bull teammate.
Pierre Gasly won an ultra-competitive midfield battle by taking seventh position, lapping just 0.007 seconds quicker than Haas driver Romain Grosjean.
Kimi Raikkonen sealed ninth position, with Kevin Magnussen making it two Haas cars in the top ten after lapping 1.529 seconds off the pace.
The first runs proved decisive in Q2 thanks to only one driver improving their time on the second run.
McLaren driver Lando Norris missed out on the top ten by just one-hundredth, apologising to the team over the radio because he “just didn’t put it together”.
Both Renault drivers were also eliminated in Q2, with Daniel Ricciardo P12 and Nico Hulkenberg P14, sandwiching the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi.
Hulkenberg was the only driver who did improve on his second run, which gained him one position.
Giovinazzi spun on his final Q2 lap at the Turn 8 right-hander, which also compromised the lap of teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who was just behind.
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was P15, falling behind Hulkenberg at the end of the session.
Daniil Kvyat was quickest of those to be eliminated in Q1 in P16, missing out on advancing by just 0.032 seconds.
He failed to improve on his second run after a lockup on his first flier on fresh rubber, then couldn’t find time on his second push lap on that set of Pirellis.
This allowed the Alfa Romeo drivers, Perez and Hulkenberg, to jump ahead of him having been behind after the first Q1 runs.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll did improve on his second run, but not by enough to elevate him beyond P17.
Williams driver George Russell was P19, six-tenths further down, with Williams teammate Robert Kubica a further half-second back.
Carlos Sainz unfortunately did not set a lap time in qualifying following a problem which occurred on his first flying lap in Q1, forcing him to return to the pits.
He reported “something went, something on the engine” over the radio, later suggesting it was “something on the driveshaft or the gearbox” – with the team unwilling to risk sending him out again while attempting to diagnose the problem. Meaning that’s game over for McLaren and will start the race in last position.
So congratulations to Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing. This pole position is the best way to celebrate Christian Horner’s birthday. Hopefully Verstappen can seek redemption with victory on race day especially after last year’s controversial moment when Esteban Ocon…
Brazilian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:07.508
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:07.631
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:07.699
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:07.874
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:07.935
6 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:08.837
7 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:08.854
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:08.984
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:09.037
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:08.868
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:08.903
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:08.919
13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:08.921
14 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:07.728*
15 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:09.035
16 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:09.320
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:09.536
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:10.126
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1:10.614
20 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault –
*10-place grid penalty for power unit change