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FRIDAY DEBRIEF: Why the Sprint format and some ugly weather has created an unsettled picture for Sao Paulo

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SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 03: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A523 Renault on

One practice and one qualifying session does not large quantities of data make, as the old saying goes. But there’s still some useful nuggets that we can gather from Friday’s running at Interlagos to build a picture of how the rest of the weekend – featuring the Sprint Shootout, Sprint and Sao Paulo Grand Prix – could go. Let’s start crunching the data.

McLaren the big losers in qualifying

P7 and P10 for Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri respectively is a poor return for a McLaren team who, according to our data, had the pace to challenge for pole on Friday afternoon. Norris agreed, saying that his car had felt “amazing – easily probably quick enough to be… on pole”.

READ MORE: Verstappen seals pole ahead of Leclerc and Stroll as rain brings early end to Sao Paulo qualifying

But McLaren were one of the last teams to send their cars out for the first runs in Q3, a costly mistake with a biblically black cloud closing over the circuit. Norris duly fell foul of the worsening track conditions, while Piastri – in his first ever outing at Interlagos – was caught out at Turn 12, running off track to leave him P10.

When the ideal laps – created by putting all of the drivers’ best mini sectors together – are tallied, our data shows Norris with a slight margin over pole-sitter Max Verstappen, with Piastri then improving to P7, albeit a chunk off his team mate.

So... disappointing, yes. But McLaren will be hoping that that raw pace translates into some decent points over the next two days of action.

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