Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen scored the second pole position of his Formula 1 career after beating Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to top spot in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix by just over a tenth of a second, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton third. The top three in the session were covered by just 0.137s.
At the start of Q1 Ferrari were the first of the likely frontrunners on track and when their drivers crossed the line Vettel led the way with a lap of 1:08.556. His time was a little under four hundredths of a second ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc.
They were soon eclipsed by Alex Albon, with the Thai driver beating Vettel’s time by five hundredths of a second and giving the first indication that Red Bull were right in the mix.
Albon’s hold on P1 didn’t last long, however. Team-mate Verstappen was also on track, and despite encountering traffic towards the end of his lap, the Dutchman took P1, 0.254s clear of his team-mate. Leclerc then went for a second run and he managed to split the Red Bulls, running just 0.007s quicker than Albon. Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas also improved to claim fourth place ahead of Vettel and Hamilton after the opening batch of runs.
The order at the top remained static thereafter, and though both Ferrari drivers went out on track at the end of the session there were no improvements.
At the other end of the table, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was eliminated in P16 ahead of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, the Williams cars of George Russell and Robert Kubica and the McLaren of Carlos Sainz, who failed to set a time in the session after experiencing an engine problem on his out lap at the start of Q1.
Verstappen was again to the fore in the opening runs of Q2. Hamilton established an early lead, with Albon slotting into P2, but after Leclerc and Vettel moved ahead of both, Verstappen powered through to claim top spot. His impressive time of 1:07.503, put him almost four tenths of a second clear of Leclerc.
The Ferrari driver had set his time on medium tyres, however, and though he would go out on softs in the final runs, his quickest time was set on the yellow-banded compound, however. That allows him to start tomorrow’s race on that compound, a bonus given the 10-place grid drop he will take due to an engine change.
Behind Leclerc, Vettel took third in the segment, on soft tyres, with Hamilton fourth ahead of Albion and Bottas. Haas’ Romain Grosjean progressed to Q3 in P7 ahead of the sole remaining Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly and the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen. The last man through to the final segment was Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen.
Eliminated at the end of Q2 was 11th-placed Lando Norris – who had been edged out to P11 by Räikkönen by just one hundredth of a second – Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, the second Alfa of Antonio Giovinazzi, the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez.
In Q3 Verstappen completed his dominance of the session. The Dutchman took provisional pole in the first runs with a lap of 1:07.623 – just eight thousandths of a second ahead of Vettel.
Verstappen erased any lingering threat in the final runs, though, with a final lap of 1:07.508 that edged Vettel by 0.123s. Hamilton took third place a further 0.068s back.
Fourth place in the session went to Leclerc, with Bottas fifth and Albon sixth. Behind the top three teams, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly will start in seventh place ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen and the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
2019 FIA Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:07.508 6 229.786
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:07.631 0.123 6 229.368
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:07.699 0.191 6 229.137
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:07.728 0.220 6 229.039
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:07.874 0.366 6 228.547
6 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing 1:07.935 0.427 6 228.341
7 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:08.837 1.329 6 225.349
8 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:08.854 1.346 6 225.294
9 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo 1:08.984 1.476 6 224.869
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:09.037 1.529 3 224.696
11 Lando Norris McLaren 1:08.868 1.365 6 225.248
12 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:08.903 1.400 6 225.133
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:08.919 1.416 5 225.081
14 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:08.921 1.418 6 225.075
15 Sergio Pérez Racing Point 1:09.035 1.532 6 224.703
16 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:09.320 1.078 10 223.779
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1:09.536 1.294 9 223.084
18 George Russell Williams 1:10.126 1.884 9 221.207
19 Robert Kubica Williams 1:10.614 2.372 9 219.678
– 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 2