Sao Paulo Qualifying: Hamilton hammers Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton hammers Max Verstappen in qualifying in Sao Paulo

Lewis Hamilton was in a class of his own in Sao Paulo during the final qualifying session for a sprint race this season, delivering pole, as title rival Max Verstappen simply had no answer for the Briton’s devastating pace.

Aside from the inconvenience of having his first lap in Q2 deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 4, Hamilton never seemed to be at risk of losing pole, especially when Verstappen never seemed to have the speed to deny him the top honors.

That was evident as Verstappen’s deficits to Hamilton were 0.431s, 0.358s, and 0.438s in Q1, Q2, and Q3 respectively. Quite a margin from the seven-time Formula 1 World Champion, who will have to deal with a five-place-grid penalty on Sunday for taking an extra engine.

Speaking after the session Hamilton said: “Today was a really good qualifying session.

“I’m super happy with it. I don’t know what tomorrow will hold. I feel really grateful, it’s crazy because it’s been a while so it feels like the first.”

Whereas Verstappen tried to downplay his considerable pace deficit to his rival by saying: “When they take a new engine naturally they have a bit more power for the weekend, so for me it’s not a big shock.

“I’m just happy to be second,” the Dutchman insisted.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, echoed his driver’s comments as he also believed that pole was not achievable today, and admitted: “We saw from this morning that Lewis was very, very strong.

“That fresh engine is obviously pumping out some horsepower for them,” he pointed out. “I think second was the best we could hope for.

“To be up there on the front row, we’re okay with that,” the 47-year-old concluded.

So the two rivals will line up on the first row for tomorrow’s sprint race, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will emerge from Turn 1 first, as Hamilton will target to win the 24-lap sprint, to limit the damage of his engine penalty on Sunday, while Verstappen will be going out of his way to prevent that from happening.

Behind the title contenders, their wingmen hogged the second row with Valtteri Bottas third, 0.535s down on his teammate’s pole time, whereas Sergio Perez was fourth a painful 0.014s behind the Finn.

Unsurprisingly now, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was an excellent fifth albeit over eight tenths down on the top time.

Carlos Sainz was the sixth for Ferrari, a mere 0.049s behind the Frenchman, whereas Charles Leclerc had to settle for seventh over one tenth slower than his teammate.

Eighth went to Lando Norris only 0.020s behind the Monegasque, while Daniel Ricciardo was 0.059s further down the road in ninth. A good turn around from the McLaren drivers who were agonizingly slow in FP1.

Rounding off the top ten was Alpine’s Fernando Alonso who did well to make it into Q3, only 0.074s behind Ricciardo.

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Q2

Despite being faster than his teammate in FP1, Esteban Ocon lost out to Alonso in Q2 and was the first driver to be eliminated in the second part of qualifying, ending up 11th, missing Q3 by 0.056s.

Sebastian Vettel was 12th for Aston Martin, a further two tenths behind Ocon. He was followed by Yuki Tsunoda in 13th, only 0.084s down on the German.

The Alfa Romeo pair, Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi, were 14th and 15th respectively, the Italian seven tenths down on his teammate.

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Q1

First to be eliminated after the first part of qualifying, was Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll who ended his qualifying in 16th place missing the cut by 0.065s to Räikkönen.

Stroll was followed by Nicolas Latifi in 17th who out-qualified his Mercedes-bound teammate George Russell by 0,056s for a change, as the Briton had to settle for 18th failing to proceed into Q2 this time around.

The Haas due were last with Mick Schumacher out-qualifying Nikita Mazepin. (Follow me on Twitter @MallakJad)

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