F1, Brazil GP: Hamilton busted all three qualifying sessions by setting the best time. Max was not able to come closer to Hamilton’s speed in qualifying for the 100km dash today.
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.
Qualifying 1: Hamilton leads the lot
Both the Ferraris led with their soft tires. With clouds gathering above Interlagos there was a 40% chance of rain during the session. It was Max who fired the first shot with setting the fastest time inboard.
Lewis finished just after Verstappen did and was faster than the dutchman. The time to beat now was 1m08.824s. Valtteri Bottas was third fastest behind Verstappen just 0.050s slower.
With plenty of time, on board the racers entered the arena once again. Hamilton found a tenth to top Q1 with an effort of 1m08.733s, his teammate 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 teammate 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.
Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi, George Russell, Mick Schumacher, and Nikita Mazepin couldn’t find the time to beat the rest of the racers and enter in Q2. Nikita Mazepin was distraught after the turn 12 error and cancellation of his time.
Qualifying 2: Redbull struggling for pace.
Hamilton was first on the track and set an early benchmark for everyone to beat(1m08.659s) but got deleted because of turn 4 track limit error. 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.
As the final lap came in Hamilton improved his time going top table and towed his teammate to p2 with him The dutchman also improved but couldn’t go top and had to finish in p3.
Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel, Yuki Tsunoda, Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi were the slowest of all to get relegated from Q2.
Qualifying 3: Lewis Hamilton takes pole for the sprint.
Perez’s opening effort was easily outdone by Hamilton, Verstappen – who was frustrated by his front tires 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 the 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 teammate 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.
Hamilton after Qualifying session:
“Today was a really good qualifying session, I’m super happy with it. We’ve got the penalty but we’ll give it everything we’ve got,” said Hamilton. “It feels crazy, because it’s been a while, so it feels like the first.”
“It’s not easy to follow, but I guess Max is starting on the pole now so it’s going to be very hard to catch him but I’ll do my best to try and go through the field. I don’t know what tomorrow will hold.”
Lewis Hamilton could be at risk of a further penalty at this weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix after his car was referred to the stewards for a technical infringement after qualifying.
“The uppermost rear wing element adjustable positions were checked on car number 44 for compliance with Article 3.6.3 of the 2021 Formula One Technical Regulations. The requirement for the minimum distance was fulfilled,” read Bauer’s report after qualifying.