Hamilton dominates Brazil qualifying

Lewis Hamilton was in the fast zone by dominating Friday’s qualifying at Interlagos, setting the pace in all three segments and finishing ahead of title rival Max Verstappen.

The two championship contenders will start Formula 1’s third sprint race from the front row of the grid, with Hamilton set to drop five places on the grid for the main event from wherever he finishes in the first race.

Hamilton, who led FP1, was in commanding form throughout qualifying, leading in Q1 and Q2 before heading the pack with a one minute, 08.107 seconds after the first runs in Q3.

As is required for the sprint race arrangement, the drivers used the soft compound throughout qualifying, with Verstappen noting he was struggling with overheating on the red-walled rubber mid-way through his first run in the final segment.

But the Dutchman could not improve on the second goes, clunking the Turn 2 kerb in the middle of the Senna Esses and then losing more time with a slide out of Turn 12 – the last real corner in the final sector.

That meant he did not set a personal best on his final run, where Hamilton went quicker still – ending up with a one minute, 07.934 seconds, 0.438 seconds in front of Verstappen.

Valtteri Bottas qualified third ahead of Sergio Perez, with Pierre Gasly finishing Q3 in the fifth position and ahead of the Scuderia Ferrari drivers for the second weekend in a row, as Carlos Sainz led Charles Leclerc in P6 and P7.

Lando Norris beat Daniel Ricciardo to ninth, while Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten for Alpine.

In Q2, Norris’s last-lap jump knocked out Esteban Ocon, who ended up P12 ahead of Sebastian Vettel – one of three drivers, including Ocon, to set their fastest times in the middle segment before being knocked out.

The other was Kimi Raikkonen, who ended up P14 behind Yuki Tsunoda, with Antonio Giovinazzi taking P15 in the Alfa Romeo.

In Q1, late improvements for Alfa duo and Ocon shuffled Lance Stroll down to P16 and out at the end of the opening segment, where Nicholas Latifi outqualified George Russell for the first time in the two seasons as Williams teammates.

Latifi’s final Q1 edged him ahead of Russell for what would become P17 once the Alfas jumped ahead of the Williams duo – with Latifi, who did technically qualify ahead of Russell at Monza by finishing ahead in the sprint race, inflicting a first Q1-Q2-Q3 defeat from a Williams teammate on Russell.

At the back, Mick Schumacher outqualified Nikita Mazepin to take P19 as the lead Haas.

So that’s P1 for Lewis Hamilton as the third sprint race of the season is coming up. It’s not pole position for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, but the Mercedes driver is the Speed King after this qualifying session.

Sao Paulo, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:07.934
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:08.372
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:08.469
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:08.483
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:08.777
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:08.826
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:08.960
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:08.980
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:09.039
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:09.113
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:09.189
12 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:09.399
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:09.483
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:09.503
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:10.227
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:09.663
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:09.897
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:09.953
19 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:10.329
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:10.589

4 thoughts to “Hamilton dominates Brazil qualifying”

  1. Sao Paulo Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying to secure P1 on the grid for the Saturday Sprint at Sao Paulo ahead of Red Bull rival Max Verstappen and Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas.

    This being a Sprint weekend, qualifying took place on Friday afternoon to set the grid for tomorrow’s 100km dash – which will then set the grid for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

    Having led Q1 – Verstappen 0.6s off in P6 – Hamilton then topped Q2 to leave the Dutchman third and 0.4s off. In Q3, the Mercedes driver squeezed everything out of his new engine to set the fastest time of 1m07.934s and leave his rival second by 0.438s and Bottas third, another tenth off. With Hamilton’s new engine, however, comes a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

    Sergio Perez took fourth for Red Bull having closed the gap to Bottas ahead, while Pierre Gasly took a stellar fifth on the Sprint grid for AlphaTauri.

    The Ferraris lined up sixth and seventh – Carlos Sainz ahead of Charles Leclerc – having outpaced the McLarens with Lando Norris ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in P9.

    Neither Alfa Romeo made it to Q3, missing out in Q2 alongside AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in P13, Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin in P12 and Esteban Ocon of Alpine in P11 – behind team mate Fernando Alonso in 10th.

    Lance Stroll was eliminated in Q1 and starts 16th on Saturday while, for the first time in a qualifying session, Williams’ George Russell was outpaced by his team mate Nicholas Latifi – the pair lining up 17th and 18th for the Sprint. The Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin line up on the back row.

    Q1 – Hamilton sets the pace, Verstappen sixth and 0.6s behind

    Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc led the soft tyre-shod field out for the opening session, clouds hanging thick above Interlagos, with a 40% chance of rain perhaps the reason for their decision to set early banker laps. But it was Max Verstappen who fired the first shot with a time of 1m09.329s.

    FP1 leader Lewis Hamilton, who emerged alongside Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas later than his rivals, then eclipsed Verstappen’s time by half a second while Bottas slotted into third, 0.050s behind the Dutchman. The time to beat was 1m08.824s but there was plenty of time left on the table given rapid track evolution.

    That proved to be the case, with Sainz and the AlphaTauris jumping up the table – but Sainz’s team mate Leclerc was well into the dropzone having had a time deleted for Turn 4 track limits. He had it all to do but with two minutes left, he emerged to set a time ultimately good enough for fourth.

    Hamilton found a tenth to top Q1 with an effort of 1m08.733s, his team mate three-tenths off in second, while Sainz was 0.006s behind Bottas in P3. Leclerc’s late jump therefore left Sergio Perez fifth and his Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen sixth (0.596s off the pace), while Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi set a blistering lap for P7 to eclipse the AlphaTauris and McLarens.

    George Russell improved – but team mate Nicholas Latifi’s effort ended up 0.056s quicker and the Canadian had the better of the Briton for the first time in qualifying. But neither were close to leaving Q1, Russell finishing 18th and Latifi 17th behind Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in 16th – who was a under a tenth away from safety.

    Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo therefore made it into Q2 behind former team mate Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) and the Alpine duo.

    The Haas drivers, Mick Schumacher 19th and Nikita Mazepin 20th, rounded out the Q1 standings, with the Russian visibly upset having put in an impressive show until his Turn 12 error.

    Knocked out: Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi, George Russell, Mick Schumacher, and Nikita Mazepin

    Q2 – Verstappen improves but Hamilton and Bottas put on another show

    Hamilton shot out of the garage to set an early benchmark of 1m08.659s but that was deleted for Turn 4 track limits, moments before Verstappen set a legally acceptable lap of 1m08.567s to go top early on. Gasly followed by three tenths, Leclerc, Bottas and Sainz making up the rest of the top five.

    The championship protagonist went out again, his first sector showing no improvement but the next two proving purple to put him top, 0.181s ahead of Verstappen. Game on.

    Hanging around the dropzone were Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in P9 and McLaren’s Lando Norris in 10th; Alonso’s team mate Esteban Ocon and AlphaTauri’s Tsunoda were on the other side of the line.

    The final laps came in and Hamilton improved to 1m08.068s with a solid tow, his team mate Bottas going second-fastest but 0.358s behind. That left Verstappen, who also went faster, third and 0.431s off top spot. Leclerc took fourth for Ferrari and Pierre Gasly fifth for AlphaTauri while Perez finished P6 – and 0.9s off P1.

    The McLarens of Norris and Daniel Ricciardo sandwiched P8 Ferrari driver Sainz. As for Alonso, he had made it through to Q3 by 0.052s at the expense of his team mate.

    Knocked out: Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel, Yuki Tsunoda, Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi

    Q3 – Hamilton sets a stunning lap but Verstappen limits the damage

    Perez’s opening effort was easily outdone by Hamilton, Verstappen – who was frustrated by his front tyres having overheated – and Bottas, who lined up in that order after their first Q3 runs to leave the Mexican fourth.

    The drivers emerged in pairs for their final flying laps while Gasly and Alonso were their teams’ sole ambassadors in the top-10 shootout. Who had the pace up their sleeve to take P1 for the Sprint?

    Hamilton provided a resounding answer with a lap of 1m07.934, taking top spot by 0.438s over Verstappen – while Bottas couldn’t deny the Red Bull driver a front-row start as he took third. Perez upped his pace but settled for fourth, a hundredth behind Bottas ahead.

    In P5 was a delighted Gasly, who outdid Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz (P6) and his team mate Leclerc (P7). The Scuderia will however smile having left Norris and Ricciardo in eighth and ninth, respectively – Alonso rounding out the top 10 for Alpine.

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton commented that the team gave “everything I wanted”. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton was pleased to overcome his set-up struggles with Mercedes’ 2021 Formula 1 car to top qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, saying it gave “everything I wanted”.

    Hamilton spoke on Thursday about the difficulty of getting the set-up right on the Mercedes W12, and the anticipated challenge from title rival Max Verstappen and Red Bull at Interlagos.

    Hamilton slipped to 19 points behind Verstappen at the top of the drivers’ championship after suffering defeat in Mexico on Sunday, and will take a five-place grid penalty on race day in Brazil.

    But Friday’s qualifying session saw Mercedes strike back as Hamilton topped all three stages of qualifying, enjoying an advantage of four -tenths of a second over Verstappen in Q3.

    Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, qualified third, while Sergio Perez will start fourth in the sister Red Bull car.

    “I loved today for sure,” Hamilton said. “We’re working so hard to try and get this car right. It’s been tough. And so to finally get the car feeling how it did today, it feels great.

    “It’s just a testament to all of the great work that everyone is doing in the garage and also back home, all of the work that is going on at home to just pull out everything we can from the car.”

    Hamilton noted that it was the second occasion in a row where he had topped qualifying, only to be hit with a penalty, having carried a 10-place grid drop into the Turkish Grand Prix.

    Hamilton called the penalty “unfortunate”, but said he would “try and fight back from that”. Should he win the sprint race tomorrow, he would start Sunday’s grand prix from sixth place.

    Verstappen and Red Bull claimed after qualifying they were not surprised by Hamilton’s pace advantage in qualifying, given Mercedes had taken a new engine.

    While Hamilton was unsure if Mercedes’ one-lap advantage would carry over to the race, he took heart from the fact that he had got the set-up right for qualifying.

    “I’ve been going from FP3 and sitting there for a whole hour trying to make the right set-up change, and the anxiety you get is crazy,” Hamilton said.

    “A lot of the times we get it wrong, I get it wrong, and today I got it right and the car was really nice to drive. It was everything I wanted.

    “That enabled me to just keep pushing. You saw purple, purple, purple, so I was just gaining each time.

    “I don’t know how we can go from one track where [Red Bull] are half a second ahead to then being behind, but anyways, they’ll be very strong in the race tomorrow.

    “I hope Valtteri gets a good start.”

  3. Championship leader and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen said it was ‘no shock’ to trail Lewis Hamilton after engine change. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Max Verstappen felt it was “not a big shock” to trail Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix after the Mercedes driver took a new engine.

    Championship leader Verstappen was tipped to be the pace-setter at Interlagos after taking back-to-back wins in the United States and Mexico, with Hamilton saying the fight against Red Bull would be “as steep as it can be”.

    Mercedes confirmed ahead of opening practice on Friday morning that it would be taking a fresh engine for Hamilton ahead of the weekend, resigning him to a five-place grid penalty.

    But Mercedes then turned the tables on Red Bull in Friday’s qualifying session to set the grid for the sprint race as Hamilton topped all three sessions, beating Verstappen by four tenths of a second in Q3.

    Speaking in parc ferme after qualifying, Verstappen felt it was not a surprise that he had lost out to Hamilton after Mercedes’ engine change.

    “When they take a new engine, actually they have a bit more power for a weekend, so for me it’s not a big shock,” Verstappen said.

    “I’m just happy to be second. That’s a good position to start from. Of course you always want to be closer, but sometimes you just have to be realistic, and there was not much more in it.”

    Verstappen rued a mistake at the penultimate corner on his final Q3 lap, but had been trailing Hamilton by three tenths of a second at the second sector split before an eventual gap of 0.438 seconds.

    Hamilton will not take his five-place grid penalty until Sunday’s race, meaning he will start the 24-lap sprint race from the front of the grid, with three points on offer to the winner.

    Asked if he was focusing on damage limitation against Hamilton on Saturday ahead of the penalty being applied, Verstappen replied: “I mean there are not that many points of course to gain in the sprint race.

    “So I hope of course to have a good first lap and see from there. Then of course, the most important one is on Sunday.”

    Verstappen believed his Red Bull F1 car would “be completely different” in race trim on Sunday as “it’s going to be a lot warmer” after overcast and cool conditions for qualifying.

    “That will change the behaviour of the car as well, so we’ll see,” Verstappen said.

  4. Lewis Hamilton has been stripped of his P1 for the F1 Sprint after a technical infringement was found on his Mercedes W12 – meaning Max Verstappen will head the field for Saturday’s 100km dash event in Brazil while Hamilton starts from the back of the grid.

    Hamilton took P1 for the Sprint by more than four-tenths over Red Bull rival Vertappen, with Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas lining up third, but now Hamilton has been disqualified from Friday’s qualifying session due to an infringement found on the rear wing of his car. He will now have to start from last-place on the grid, in a major blow to his championship hopes. Mercedes later announced they will not appeal the decision, saying “We want to win these World Championships on the race track”.

    Meanwhile, Verstappen was handed a €50,000 fine for touching and examining Hamilton’s rear wing in Parc Ferme on Friday with the stewards giving a lengthy reasoning for the fine. However, they said in that statement issued after FP2 on Saturday: “no direct harm was caused in this case.”

    They added that “it was unlikely that Verstappen’s actions caused the fault, however [Mercedes] felt that it was an open question.”

    Ahead of the Sprint event the stewards explained why they had handed the penalty to Hamilton: “In lay terms, there is a gap between the upper and lower parts of the rear wing. When the DRS is not activated this gap must be between 10mm and 15mm. The car passed this part of the test.

    “When DRS is activated, which raises the upper element of the wing to a flatter position, the gap must be between 10mm and 85mm. The maximum gap is measured, in accordance with TD/011-19, by pushing an 85mm gauge against the gap with a maximum load of 10N (ten newtons.) If the gauge goes through then the car has failed the test.

    “In this case, the gauge would not pass through at the inner section of the wing, but did at the outer section of the wing. This test was repeated four times with two different gauges, once being done in the presence of the Stewards and representatives of the Competitor.”

    The reasoning set out the process in which Mercedes’ representatives Ron Meadows and Simon Cole met with FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer plus Single Seater Technical Director Nicholas Tombazis on Friday night. The hearing was delayed until 10.30am local time on Saturday for further evidence to be gathered.

    This morning’s hearing included Mercedes’ Chief Designer John Owen while Bauer was absent. Owen said that the design was intended to meet regulations and blamed the deflection on “additional play either in the DRS actuator or the pivots at the end, or some combination or other fault with the mechanism, or incorrect assembly of the parts.”

    The FIA agreed that the same design had passed previous tests and said they were satisfied that the design met the intent of the regulation, stressing there was no indication of “any intent to exceed the maximum dimension either by action or design.”

    While agreeing that the wing failed the test because something had “gone wrong”, the FIA decided to penalise Hamilton and Mercedes, adding: “it shall be no defence to claim that no performance advantage was obtained. Therefore, the Stewards order the usual penalty for technical non-compliance of disqualification from the qualifying session.”

    Furthermore, Hamilton has a five-place grid penalty, for taking a new Mercedes engine, which will apply in Sunday’s Grand Prix.

    Verstappen therefore has a prime chance of adding up to three points to his 19-point lead over Hamilton while, if both Red Bulls take top three finishes in the Sprint, Red Bull could pass Mercedes in the constructors’ standings on Saturday.

    Source: Formula1.com

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