Max Verstappen has qualified on pole for Monday morning’s Brazilian Grand Prix despite a large storm bringing an early end to Q3 at Interlagos this morning.
With the sky darkening and winds picking up, teams were quick to put in a banker lap in the final session, with Verstappen’s 1:10.727 topping Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by nearly three-tenths.
Lance Stroll qualified for Q3 for the first time since July’s Belgian Grand Prix and surprised the field to set the third-fastest time. Aston Martin lock out the second row, with Fernando Alonso qualifying fourth with the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell locking out row three.
Lando Norris qualified as the best of the McLarens, in seventh, and starts next to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri round out the top ten.
The threat of rain became apparent in Q1, which had been delayed to allow for cleaning of the track surface and saw a flurry of lap times in the middle of the session, with Q2’s qualifiers not decided until after the chequered flag.
Knocked out of Q1 were Guanyu Zhou, Logan Sargeant, Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, and Yuki Tsunoda, the latter falling only 0.044 seconds short of Pierre Gasly’s best time to progress to Q2.
The continued threat from the weather produced a similar theme in Q2, which saw times continue to change until the end of the run.
Alex Albon, Kevin Magnussen, Gasly, Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg were eliminated, with Stroll progressing to Q3 from 10th.
Darkness descended at the start of Q3, with Verstappen leading a train of cars out to set an early lap time and beat the impending weather.
His best time was over seven-tenths slower than that of Norris’s best that had topped Q2, given the challenges posed by the wind.
Piastri was caught out by the conditions on a flying lap that looked set to challenge the leaders, running off at Turn 12 and failing to set a time.
Once the initial laps were completed, rain began to fall, quickly intensifying and seeing a red flag bring an early end to the session.
Monday’s Brazilian Grand Prix begins at 6.00 am, with a Sprint Shootout and Sprint Race at 2.30 am and 6.30 am tomorrow, respectively.
Header Image: Getty Images/ Red Bull Content Pool