Norris claims P1 in Sao Paulo Sprint Shootout as he triumphs over Verstappen and Perez
Lando Norris clinched P1 for the Sprint Shootout at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, having put his McLaren 0.061s ahead of Max Verstappen.
The Briton set a time of 1m 10.622s, making up for the disappointment of his lower-than-expected result in Friday’s qualifying. Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez managed to take third despite running used tyres.
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton put their Mercedes cars in fourth and fifth respectively, while Yuki Tsunoda was an impressive sixth ahead of Charles Leclerc in seventh.
There was a good showing from Daniel Ricciardo in P8, while Carlos Sainz claimed P9 and Oscar Piastri – racing at Interlagos for the first time in his F1 career – took P10.
FORMULA 1 ROLEX GRANDE PRÊMIO DE SÃO PAULO 2023
Sprint Shootout results
|1 Lando Norris NOR McLaren||1:10.622|
|2 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:10.683|
|3 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||1:10.756|
|4 George Russell RUS Mercedes||1:10.857|
|5 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||1:10.940|
The Haas pair of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg will start the Sprint from P11 and P12 respectively after just missing out on making it into SQ3. Behind them is Pierre Gasly, who exited SQ2 in 13th place.
Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas took P14, while Fernando Alonso also dropped out of SQ2 in P15, with the Aston Martin mechanics unable to repair damage on his car following a collision with Esteban Ocon in SQ1.
The incident – which will be investigated by the stewards – brought a dramatic early end to SQ1 when Ocon crashed into the barriers at Turn 3 as a result of the contact. The Alpine driver had been in the elimination zone and as such found himself ending the session in P16.
After a strong performance on Friday to take P3, Lance Stroll had a tougher session and dropped out in P17. Zhou Guanyu also made an early exit in P18, while the Williams cars of Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant will bring up the rear of the Sprint grid in 19th and 20th respectively.
AS IT HAPPENED
SQ1 – Sainz leads as Ocon and Alonso incident brings out the red flags
After an eventful opening day of running at Interlagos on Friday, in which Verstappen took pole position for Sunday’s race as inclement weather brought an early end to qualifying, the drivers returned to action on Saturday for the final Sprint Shootout of 2023.
Fortunately for those not a fan of the rain, the 12-minute SQ1 session got under way in warm and dry conditions. However, this posed the risk of the track having lost grip overnight. It was a quiet start when the green light came on, with nobody making a move initially, before several drivers headed out on the mandatory medium tyre.
Yesterday’s pole man Verstappen was the first to hit the circuit as half of the field started to put some laps in, while the remaining 10 stayed in the garage, perhaps wanting to avoid using too many tyres. The world champion set the early pace on a 1m 11.888s, three-tenths ahead of team mate Perez.
With eight minutes to go, all of the drivers had left the pits as the times continued to come in, with Sainz putting himself at the top of the timesheets. While some of the pack opted to pit, the Red Bull duo remained out on the circuit. Elsewhere Piastri suffered a slight wobble, as he had done in Friday’s qualifying, though managed to avoid an off.
There was trouble for Magnussen – who had slotted into fifth – as the Haas was forced to pit due to something being stuck on the front of his car, potentially putting him at risk of being pushed down the order as the clock ticked down.
After McLaren were unlucky in Friday’s qualifying, it looked like there could be a chance of history repeating, with Piastri in P14 as the session headed into its final minutes. However, the Shootout was then brought to a halt as the yellow flags were initially waved for Ocon, who had crashed out but was fortunately okay, before this then led to the red flags being shown.
Meanwhile, Alonso had suffered what looked to be a puncture and was forced to limp back to the pits. Replays showed that there had been contact between the Alpine – which appeared to get slightly out of shape over the kerbs on a flying lap – and the slower-moving Aston Martin into Turn 3, prompting an angry response from Ocon on team radio.
The incident was noted by the stewards and it was soon confirmed that SQ1 would not be resumed, meaning that the drivers in the elimination zone would not get another chance to better their lap times.
Sainz ended the session on top from Norris and Hamilton, and there was further trouble for Ocon as he found himself out of the Shootout in P16.
While Alonso made it through, his team mate Stroll was less lucky, ending up in P17. Also making an early exit were the Alfa Romeo of Zhou along with the Williams duo of Albon – who had been improving when the red flags came out – and Sargeant.
Knocked out: Ocon, Stroll, Zhou, Albon, Sargeant
SQ2 – Norris sets the pace in delayed session
There was a delay to SQ2 getting going as work was carried out to repair the barriers following Ocon’s heavy crash, and this also offered an opportunity for Aston Martin to attempt to fix Alonso’s car, with the Spaniard having ended SQ1 in P11.
The Shootout eventually continued at 1140 local time, with 10 minutes going on the clock as SQ2 began. As was the case in SQ1, Verstappen decided to be the first out on track and got himself at the front of the pit lane queue as the drivers awaited the green light. He was followed by Perez, with both Red Bulls heading out on fresh medium tyres.
Despite the Aston Martin mechanics working on his car, it appeared that Alonso would not be taking part in the session, with the two-time world champion having already been out to speak to media. Meanwhile the majority of the remaining drivers were putting their first laps in and Verstappen again set the pace with a time of 1m 11.449s.
There was an impressive early display from Haas, with Hulkenberg and Magnussen going fifth and seventh, pushing the Mercedes pair down to P9 and P10. A lull in the action followed before the field – many of whom were now running used medium tyres – returned to the track for the final minutes of SQ2.
It all looked tight in the dying moments, but AlphaTauri made a dramatic leap out of the elimination zone, with Ricciardo going into second and Tsunoda reaching seventh. The Japanese driver was pushed down as others went ahead – including Norris, who topped the timesheets – but Tsunoda still managed to hold onto P10.
This put Magnussen and Hulkenberg out of the running in P11 and P12 respectively, followed by Gasly in 13th and Bottas in 14th. Alonso did not return to action, putting him in P15 on the Sprint grid.
Knocked out: Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Gasly, Bottas, Alonso
SQ3 – P1 for Norris as he outpaces Red Bull
After an eventful session so far, the eight-minute top-10 shootout got under way, but this time there was no great rush to get going, with just a single lap run on the cards. Some drivers – Perez, Sainz and Piastri, namely – were left without a fresh set of soft tyres for the session, with all having been used in Friday’s qualifying.
There was finally movement as the clock ticked down to four minutes. Verstappen was again keen to get going and pulled off a couple of overtakes on his way out of the pits, giving him some fresh air on track.
Ahead of him, Piastri was the first to get a lap on the board, putting in a 1m 11.189s. This didn’t keep him in P1 for long, with Norris beating that lap on a 1m 10.622s while Verstappen slotted into second. Tsunoda impressively put himself in third before being pushed down by Perez.
Despite other laps coming in, Norris held onto pole for the Sprint ahead of Verstappen by six hundredths of a second. Perez sealed third, with Russell in fourth and Hamilton in fifth.
The fast Tsunoda will start from P6 on the Sprint grid, with Leclerc behind in seventh and Ricciardo taking P8. Sainz and Piastri rounded out the top 10.
It was confirmed after the session that, along with Alonso and Ocon, other drivers had been summoned to see the stewards – Norris and Tsunoda both called for alleged failures to follow the Race Director’s instructions.
“A great day, but honestly it felt like one of the worst laps I've done so it's a surprise,” said Norris. “My first pole in a long time so I'm happy. The pace has been good all weekend, the car has been strong. It's a tough one, the Bulls are always quick, Max is very quick. I'll give it my all.”
The drivers will now take a break before lining up for the 100-kilometre Sprint at 1530 local time. Head to the RACE HUB to find out how you can catch the action.