Carlos Sainz storms to the pole in the final minutes of qualifying. Sainz beat his teammate Charles Leclerc who finished P2 but will take a 10-place grid penalty on Sunday. Max Verstappen could only manage third but will start on the front row alongside Sainz. Sergio Perez qualified P4 ahead of the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
Lance Stroll had a fantastic outing for Aston Martin. He qualified P7 ahead of Lando Norris, who was lucky to be in Q3. Norris got eliminated in Q2 after posting the 11th fastest time. But Zhou Guanyu’s lap time was deleted by stewards after he exceeded track limits. Zhou was the 10th fastest driver at the end of the session and the lap time deletion caused him a spot in Q3. Fernando Alonso qualified for P9, but he will also take a 5-place grid penalty for ICE change. Valtteri Bottas rounded up the top 10.
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Q1 saw some surprise exits. Alpine’s Estaban Ocon could only manage P18 which was a shock to most because Alpine showed a good pace in the practice sessions. Daniel Ricciardo was another casualty of Q1, qualifying only P17. Ricciardo’s pace in qualifying has been very inconsistent. In three of the last five qualifying events, he has been unable to clear Q1. Mick Schumacher spun on his fast lap and could only manage P19 ahead of the usual suspect in the last place Nicholas Latifi. Kevin Magnussen also couldn’t make it into Q2, finishing P16.
The top three teams, Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes, comfortably cleared Q2, as did Fernando Alonso of Alpine. Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri struggled with his tyre temperatures. He suffered a massive lockup in his fast lap. Afterwards, he was screaming on the radio about being unable to turn on the temperatures of his tyres, no matter how hard he tried. Alex Albon qualified P12 after an impressive performance in Q1. On his last outing as an F1 driver in the USA, Sebastian Vettel qualified for P13. Gasly’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda finished P15. Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo got ahead of Norris at the end of Q2. He posted the 10th fastest time eliminating Lando Norris. However, he exceeded the track limits on his fast lap, and the FIA invalidated his lap times. He finished P14, and Norris got promoted to Q3 at 10th place.
Charles Leclerc posted the fastest time in the early stages of Q3 of 1:34.624. In the later part of the session, Max Verstappen tried to beat his pole time on a new set of soft tyres but couldn’t manage it. Carlos Sainz posted a great time of 1:34.056, 0.056s faster than Leclerc’s. The Spaniard remained on the pole as Leclerc couldn’t improve enough on his final run to beat Sainz’s time. Sergio Perez finished at P4 behind Verstappen.
The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished P5 and P6, respectively. Lando Norris qualified P8 ahead of Fernando Alonso, who would start the race at P13 after his 5-place grid penalty was applied. This would allow Norris and McLaren to bridge the gap between them and Alpine. Charles Leclerc would start the race at 12th place, promoting many drivers up one spot. Red Bull can wrap up the race for the Constructor’s title this weekend if Ferrari fails to outscore their opponents by 19 points.
Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz passed away at the age of 78
The mood in the paddock was a bit sad before the start of qualifying. News started to circulate in the paddock that Dietrich Mateschitz, the hugely influential Austrian businessman who founded Red Bull and enjoyed massive success in sport, died at age 78 after a long battle with illness. Mateschitz saw Red Bull’s meteoric rise in 2010 after Sebastian Vettel won 4 titles from 2010-2013. The team also won the Constructor’s title at the same time. The Red Bull team, in particular, was looking quite dejected, and Christian Horner was holding back tears while giving an interview to the media. Max Verstappen praised Mateschitz’s involvement in the sports and thanked Mateschitz for giving him a chance to race for Red Bull. Tributes also poured in from the rest of the teams and F1 personals for the late team owner of Red Bull.
Out in Q2
Out in Q1