Lando Norris will start the Sao Paulo Sprint from pole alongside Max Verstappen as Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso crashed out in bizarre fashion.

Norris’ time of 1:10.622s saw him sit 0.061s ahead of Verstappen, followed by Sergio Perez. George Russell was the leading Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton completed the top five.

Read More: F1 2023 Sao Paulo GP — Sprint Shootout Results

All signs of yesterday’s storm had virtually vanished as track temperatures reached 47 Degrees Celsius ahead of the first 12 minute session.

Max Verstappen was the first to take to the Interlagos circuit on the Medium compound which is mandated for both SQ1 and SQ2. Having negotiated traffic, he set the benchmark at 1:11.888s.

That benchmark would not stand for long as the track would rubber up considerably following Friday’s deluge, with Carlos Sainz assuming the top spot with time of 1:11.796. Hamilton slotted into second, ahead of Verstappen, as the top three were all separated by less than a tenth of a second.

Oscar Piastri found himself in 14th with two minutes remaining in the session after having a wobble on his first attempt.

Fortunately for the McLaren driver, he would not need to improve his time as the red flags came out for a crash for Esteban Ocon, bringing out the red flags with 30 seconds remaining in SQ1. The session would not be resumed and SQ2 delayed for the clean-up operation.

Replays showed that Fernando Alonso was also involved in the bizarre shunt exiting Turn 2 as the Alpine driver found himself with oversteer after lighting up the rear tyres on the exit kerb following the Senna S. Having had a snap, Ocon ran wide and into Alonso, who was on a slow lap and off-line.

The incident was noted by the Stewards and will be investigated after the session, but the crash caused significant damage to the Alpine which ended up making rearwards contact with the outside barriers.

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523 crashed in Sprint Shootout.
04.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sprint Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

Alonso too sustained damage in the accident and questions will be asked of the Spaniard who did jink slightly to the left mere moments before the contact. Arguably, had Ocon not lost control of the car, the incident wouldn’t have happened so the Stewards will have a tough decision to make ahead of the Sprint.

Ocon was already in the drop-zone when the incident occurred, and therefore the Frenchman was knocked out in P16. After qualifying P3 yesterday, Lance Stroll was also eliminated in 17th. Guanyu Zhou, Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant were also out of contention.

In the delay between sessions, Aston Martin worked desperately in an attempt to repair Alonso’s AMR23 in time for the resumption as lengthy repair work was also carried out on the barriers at the scene of Ocon’s shunt. Alonso returned to Aston Martin’s hospitality having performed his media duties in the delay and would not rejoin the Shootout.

The Red Bulls were again at the front of the queue when SQ2 did finally get underway and it was Verstappen once more who led the way after drivers completed their first timed attempts.

The top five were all within two tenths of the Dutchman’s 1:11.449 benchmark. Sainz sat second, ahead of Leclerc, Perez, Sainz and Piastri as Mercedes sat bottom of those who had completed a fast lap with Lewis Hamilton ninth and George Russell tenth.

The track looked to ramp up as cars returned for one final run in SQ2 as Daniel Ricciardo briefly appeared in second place.

McLaren’s Lando Norris went fastest on used tyres with a 1:11.221, 0.009s clear of Perez and 0.041s ahead of Verstappen at the conclusion of SQ2.

The Mercedes drivers both improved, escaping danger of elimination and advancing safely to SQ3. Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg were the first two drivers eliminated, placing ahead of Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas and the absent Alonso.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60.
04.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sprint Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Heading into SQ3, it is important to note that both AlphaTauri drivers had saved fresh sets of softs for qualifying yesterday which remain unused after being eliminated in Q1 on Friday. Perez, Sainz and Piastri all were left without fresh rubber and would face an uphill struggle to contend for the Sprint pole.

Drivers all left it late to take to the track as racing surface continued to creep up to 52 Degrees Celsius which would favour those on brand new tyres.

Oscar Piastri was the first driver to begin his attempt but the Australian looked to lack mechanical grip on his older rubber. Lando Norris would go half a second faster to jump to provisional pole with a 1:10.622s.

There was no answer from Verstappen, or any other driver for that matter, as the McLaren driver secured a Sprint pole, 0.061s ahead of Vertappen.

Sergio Perez would take third ahead of Russell and Hamilton, followed by Yuki Tsunoda in the AlphaTauri.

Despite a P2 starting spot for Sunday’s Grand Prix, Leclerc was only able to manage P7 for the Sprint as Daniel Ricciardo splits the Ferrari pairing. Oscar Piastri would slip to tenth after being at a tyre disadvantage. Interestingly, Leclerc had a set of fresh softs available but opted to take to the track on used tyres, perhaps keeping that card up his sleeve for the Sprint.

Norris’ P1 start later today will be his first since Sochi 2021 and, with rain expected to not impact today’s running, he will be looking to find his first F1 ‘victory’ later this afternoon.

Source:  Read More 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *