Max Verstappen will seek a redemptive victory in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand after qualifying his Red Bull Racing Honda on pole position at the Interlagos circuit.
The Dutch driver was unstoppable in qualifying, fastest in all three sessions, on a circuit that rewards a strong chassis and fine driving. A cool head will be needed in Sunday’s race, a feature not always consistently present in Verstappen’s repertoire, a year on from losing victory at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.
He was comfortably leading the 2018 event when he was struck and spun by Racing Point’s Esteban Ocon as the Frenchman attempted to unlap himself. It cost him the victory, and unable to control his temper he then pushed and shoved Ocon after the race which earned him a hefty sanction from the FIA.
Today, he was beaming from ear to ear. “The car was flying and really enjoyable to drive. I’m really happy with this pole,” he said. “I’ll try to finish it off [on Sunday].”
Sitting fourth in the Drivers’ Championship on 235 points and with just 19 points covering the battle between himself, Charles Leclerc (249 points) and Sebastian Vettel (230), it is all to play for.
His rivals from Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG could not counter-attack and were left reeling by Verstappen’s straight-line speed and a flawless middle sector on his final Q3 lap that netted him a 1:07.508.
Vettel qualified second-fastest in his 100th Grand Prix outing for Ferrari with teammate Leclerc a scruffy fourth-fastest – both lost time in the final sector by running fractionally wide. Leclerc will, however, take a ten-place grid penalty for taking a new engine.
The pair was split on the timesheets by newly-crowned six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who qualified third-fastest. Teammate Valtteri Bottas endured his usual pattern of lacking those vital final few-tenths of a second and could only claim fifth ahead of Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon.
Traditionally ‘best of the rest’ this season, neither McLaren nor Renault could get any of their drivers into the final Q3 shootout.
That left Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly to secure seventh ahead of the two Haas Ferraris of Romain Grosjean (P8) and Kevin Magnussen (P10) – both making Q3 for the first time since May’s Spanish Grand Prix – who were split by Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen.
Lando Norris missed out on a Q3 berth by just 0.01 seconds, qualifying eleventh-fastest but promoted to tenth on the grid thanks to Leclerc’s grid penalty. His teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. was left a frustrated spectator, with his MCL34 suffering an apparent engine drama before he could post a time in Q1.
|FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN GRANDE PRÊMIO DO BRASIL 2019 QUALIFYING|
|Q3 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:07.508|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:07.631||+ 0.123|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:07.699||+ 0.191|
|4.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:07.728||+ 0.220|
|5.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:07.874||+ 0.366|
|6.||Alexander Albon||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:07.935||+ 0.427|
|7.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:08.837||+ 1.329|
|8.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:08.854||+ 1.346|
|9.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:08.984||+ 1.476|
|10.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:09.037||+ 1.529|
|Q2 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:08.868||+ 1.365|
|12.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:08.903||+ 1.400|
|13.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:08.919||+ 1.416|
|14.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:08.921||+ 1.418|
|15.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:09.035||+ 1.532|
|Q1 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap**|
|16.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:09.320||+ 1.078|
|17.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:09.536||+ 1.294|
|18.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:10.126||+ 1.884|
|19.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:10.614||+ 2.372|
|Outside 107%||Team / Entry||Time||Gap**|
|DNQ.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||no time|
* Denotes gap to fastest Q2 lap time of 1:07.503 posted by Max Verstappen
** Denotes gap to fastest Q1 lap time of 1:08.242 posted by Max Verstappen
- Charles Leclerc will serve a 10-place grid penalty for taking a new power unit element above his allocation for the season.
- Carlos Sainz Jr. failed to post a qualifying lap time within 107% of the fastest time in Q1 and will start the race from the back of the grid at the discretion of the FIA Stewards.
Image via Red Bull Content Pool