Verstappen takes sprint shootout pole

This time Max Verstappen kept within track limits to take pole position in the sprint shootout at COTA, edging out Charles Leclerc to the top spot while Lewis Hamilton was once again third fastest.

The Red Bull driver had earlier spun around after hitting the kerbs in the second segment of the weekend’s shorter qualifying session, where the drivers were obliged to run mediums in SQ1 and SQ2 until switching to softs in SQ3.

In the final segment, the majority of drivers only had one new set of softs, which meant they sat in the garages for a long time until Verstappen headed out and set a lap time of one minute, 34.538 seconds.

Although track limits were again a big talking point – with the FIA having widened the white line limits exiting Turns 9, 12 and 19 to help the drivers following discussions with the teams – Verstappen had no repeat of the error that cost him pole for the United States Grand Prix.

Ferrari’s Leclerc was again his main challenger – setting the quickest time in the middle sector on his sole SQ3 run and so closing in on the 0.1 seconds gap he had to Verstappen after sector one before then falling back again in the Austin lap’s final third to end up just 0.055 seconds adrift.

Hamilton slotted his Mercedes into third, with an effort set after most of the other frontrunners – ending up fractionally behind Leclerc and 0.069 seconds adrift of Verstappen.

Lando Norris led his McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri in fourth and fifth, with Carlos Sainz sixth.

Sergio Perez had another disappointing qualifying for Red Bull Racing – finishing seventh and a massive 0.5 seconds down on teammate. But he was forced to run in SQ3 without a new set of softs as he had used all of his in Friday’s action.

The same was true of George Russell, who therefore took eighth position, and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly – P10 in the final order behind Williams driver Alex Albon.

In changing but less windy conditions compared to Friday’s session, Albon was able to rise from a Q1 exit in Grand Prix qualifying to reach SQ3 for the sprint event.

In SQ2, where seven drivers only completed one run due to lacking medium tyres to use, Ricciardo just missed out on progressing behind Albon, along with Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Zhou Guanyu.

Zhou was one of the few midfield runners to complete multiple runs in the middle segment, but his personal best at the end was not enough to reach Q3, while Stroll was left out due to a late massive double lock-up aboard his Aston Martin at Turn 12 at the end of the track’s main straight.

In SQ1, Ricciardo’s late improvement knocked out Nico Hulkenberg, who was eliminated alongside his Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda and Logan Sargeant.

Russell faces a post-session investigation for appearing to impede Leclerc going through the penultimate corners late in Q1, with the Ferrari driver joking commented: “And penalty for Mr Russell – thank you”, following the incident.

In a similar incident in Q1, Tsunoda seemed to impede Hamilton at the same point, with the Mercedes driver feeling the pair had lightly touched right-front corner to left-rear, but race control decided the clash was not worthy of further investigation.

Russell will also be among those investigated for apparently failing to follow the race director’s instructions regarding driving too slowly on in and out laps – intended to reduce traffic issues this year – alongside Albon, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Gasly, Piastri, Bottas, Tsunoda and Perez.

Albon, Piastri and Russell were pinged again for this in SQ2, this time along with Stroll, Zhou, Ricciardo and Norris.

The sprint event is next and it will be fascinating who will win the 19-lap race.

United States Grand Prix, sprint shootout results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:34.538
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:34.593
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.607
4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:34.6395
5 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:34.894
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:34.939
7 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:35.041
8 George Russell Mercedes 1:35.199
9 Alex. Albon Williams 1:35.366
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:35.897
11 Daniel. Ricciardo AlphaTauri 1:35.978
12 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:36.087
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:36.137
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:36.181
15 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo 1:36.182
16 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:36.749
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:36.922
18 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:36.922
19 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:36.945
20 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:37.186

3 thoughts to “Verstappen takes sprint shootout pole”

  1. Max Verstappen returned to form on Saturday as he came out on top of an entertaining Sprint Shootout at the United States Grand Prix, the Dutch driver narrowly getting the best of rivals Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton.

    On his one and only lap in SQ3, Verstappen set a time of 1m 34.538s to get pole position for the Sprint – making up for his deleted pole position lap time in Friday’s qualifying – and besting Leclerc’s effort by just 0.055s.

    Hamilton was one of the last drivers to cross the line and he wound up third, 0.069s off Verstappen’s time. The Mercedes man will line up alongside compatriot Lando Norris in fourth, who was followed by his McLaren team mate, Oscar Piastri.

    Carlos Sainz was sixth for Ferrari, followed by the Red Bull of Sergio Perez and the Mercedes of George Russell – the latter two drivers setting their times on used softs. Alex Albon was ninth for Williams, as the Alpine of Pierre Gasly rounded out the top-10.

  2. The FIA has made overnight modifications to track limits for the 2023 United States Grand Prix amid complaints from Formula 1 teams and drivers.

    For the second round in succession, following on from the Qatar GP when 51 lap times were deleted in the main race, track limits have once again been firmly on the agenda.

    In the uncompetitive FP1 session on Friday at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, when drivers were not necessarily pushing flat out, understands that 76 lap time were deleted.

    Then, most notably, three-time world champion Max Verstappen was pinged for running wide on the exit of Turn 19 in grand prix qualifying to have his fastest Q3 time scrapped.

    The governing body notes that: “Following discussion with the teams and drivers yesterday we have widened the white line on the outside at Turns 9, 12 and 19 – this is to give the drivers a bit of extra margin at these corners”.

  3. Mercedes Formula 1 driver George Russell has been handed a grid penalty for the United States Grand Prix sprint race for blocking Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

    In the opening part of the qualifying shootout to determine the grid for the Saturday sprint contest, Russell stayed on the racing line through the penultimate Turn 19 left-hander to force a fast-approaching Leclerc to move to the inside.

    Upon reviewing the incident with the addition of team radio and in-car video, the FIA stewards have determined that Mercedes failed to warn Russell in good time of the faster car behind. Subsequently, Leclerc was unnecessarily impeded.

    The stewards noted: “[Russell] entered the last two corners preparing for his flying lap at the end of SQ1 with [Leclerc] closing in quickly.

    “Whilst the team did inform the driver about the closing car a few seconds in advance, there was no further information directly before [Russell] entered Turn 19 with [Leclerc] right behind.

    “[Russell] did not move from the racing line in or after Turn 19 and therefore unnecessarily impeded [Leclerc].

    “The Stewards note that irrespective of any information coming from the team, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that no other cars are unnecessarily impeded.”

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