Verstappen takes Brazilian GP pole position as biblical storm cuts qualifying short

Max Verstappen beat a maelstrom to secure Brazilian GP pole position.

-

Max Verstappen was quickest on the buzzer to take pole position in apocalyptic conditions at the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix, as an eclipse-like change in conditions plunged Interlagos into darkness and rain halfway through Q3.

FP1 saw an outbreak of punctures due to screws left out on the circuit, with both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso affected, and qualifying was delayed by 15 minutes to allow for extra track cleaning time.

That always threatened to expose the session to a rain shower with anthracite clouds perenially hanging off the circuit, but that storm finally arrived even before every driver had completed a lap in Q3.

And it arrived with a vengeance, as if someone had turned out the lights in Sao Paulo before wind upgraded from blustery to hurricane and rain bucketed down, forcing the top-three interviews to take place in the safety car garage rather than the celebration area outdoors.

After all the talk about who’d have the fastest car at Interlagos, pitlane position proved to be the decisive factor, with Verstappen hurrying through his outlap in order to be first across the line to set a lap.

Aston Martin also sent their cars out early and were rewarded with a morale-boosting lockout of the second row of the grid led by Lance Stroll, with Charles Leclerc qualifying second.

But just a week after a strategy error caused Lando Norris‘ Q1 elimination at the Mexico City GP, McLaren were again found wanting operationally.

Oscar Piastri was last out of the pitlane and span at Turn 12, signalling conditions were swiftly becoming undriveable, while Lando Norris was seventh and over a second behind Verstappen.

Mercedes filled the third row of the grid led by Lewis Hamilton, while Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez were well of the pace of their teammates and split the McLarens.

Haas are the only team whose both drivers have previously scored pole position at Interlagos, but couldn’t make it out of Q2 as they were eliminated alongside Alex Albon and the Alpines.

It was a similar story at the end of Q1 as the Alfa Romeos, AlphaTauris and Logan Sargeant failed to make the cut meaning 15th-place Albon‘s lead in the Williams qualifying battle extends to 24-0.

Qualifying rule change fails to prevent chaos

Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri during 2023 Brazilia Grand Prix practice | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

In a throwback to 2007, pit holdups have been a theme of the 2023 F1 season, starting with Verstappen seeming very fortunate to avoid a penalty after roadblocking the end of the pitlane in qualifying for the Singapore GP.

After a fan backlash, the FIA admitted they’d been too lenient on the championship winner, but when Verstappen and George Russell pulled the same stunt at the Mexico City GP, the pair again avoided any grid drops.

For Interlagos, the stewards revealed drivers have been banned from stopping in the pitlane and instructed to keep left if they’re running slowly down the unique pit exit that winds down to turn three at the tail of the Senna S.

It didn’t seem to make much difference though – Verstappen went rallying around Esteban Ocon at the end of Q1 as he progressed while Yuki Tsunoda wasn’t so lucky.

The AlphaTauri driver complained that a Mercedes (Tsunoda initially accused Hamilton but it was later found to be Russell) had impeded him in the pitlane, with the stewards taking note of the incident but no penalties handed out at least by the end of Q3.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
- Advertisment -

LATEST NEWS

Liam Lawson prepares for free practice at the 2022 Mexican Grand Prix | Peter Fox/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull bosses agree on Liam Lawson F1 prospects in 2025

0
Christian Horner and RB CEO Peter Bayer refused to back Liam Lawson's prospects for a full-time Formula 1 drive...
Carlos Sainz looks on at the 2024 Monaco GP | Ferrari

After Carlos Sainz’s Mercedes denial, why does his future remain an enigma?

0
Ferrari swinging the axe on Carlos Sainz's career in scarlet must have stung, but the Spaniard at least had...
Charles Leclerc dives into the Monaco harbour | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Where does Charles Leclerc rank 2024 Monaco Grand Prix win?

0
Charles Leclerc is a race winner for the first time in almost two years as the Ferrari ace crushed...
Charles Leclerc celebrates winning the 2024 Monaco GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

What we learned from the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix

0
The 2024 Monaco Grand Prix may not have served up a classic, but it wasn’t short on storylines as...
Sergio Perez talks to his engineer Hugh Bird and team principal Christian Horner in the garage | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Look away Checo – Horner praises Perez’s F1 rival as star fights for Red...

0
Christian Horner insists Red Bull will make a decision about Sergio Perez's Red Bull future "in the fullness of...
Max Verstappen during 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Winners and Losers of 2024 Monaco GP

0
Charles Leclerc vanquished his Monte Carlo demons to finally take victory at his home race, while Red Bull continued...
Daniel Ricciardo of Visa Cash App RB during the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Driver Ratings – Monaco GP 2024

0
Charles Leclerc was in dreamland as the Ferrari driver finally celebrated an elusive victory at home race at the...
Josef Newgarden drinks his milk after winning the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: James Black

2024 Indy 500 Race Results

0
Josef Newgarden joined an elite group of drivers by winning the Indy 500 for the second consecutive year in...
Josef Newgarden celebrates winning the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: Amber Pietz

Newgarden takes sensational Indy 500 win after epic battle for glory

0
The Indianapolis 500 never fails to excite and even a four-hour rain delay couldn't dampen the drama for IndyCar's...
Tom Blomqvist crashes in Lap 1 at the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: Aaron Skillman

2024 Indy 500: Results and Highlights as Newgarden wins

0
Welcome to this Total Motorsport live blog for the 2024 Indy 500, is among the most prestigious motorsport events...
- Advertisment -