Oscar Piastri grabbed the lead at the end of a frenetic shootout at the Qatar Grand Prix, holding off McLaren team-mate Lando Norris and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to claim a historic pole position.
Piastri, who had never led a qualifying session in Formula 1 before, set an impressive time of 1 minute 24.454 seconds as the shootout approached the end, just under a tenth behind Norris, who had his final lap time removed for exceeding track limits.
Max Verstappen, after losing his initial time on the track boundaries, managed to get an effort on the board at the checkered flag, but it was not enough to deny Piastri and Norris, who would form McLaren’s first all-front row from then on. 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.
After the shock exit of Lewis Hamilton from SQ2, who was stripped of lap times in a session dominated by track limits, it was George Russell who led the Mercedes team in fourth, followed by Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc had his own laps deleted across the SQ3 stage, but was able to recover and overtake Haas’ eye-catching Nico Hulkenberg, who finished seventh, along with Sergio Perez (Red Bull), Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) and Esteban Ocon (Alpine). ) They all violate the path limits from P8 to P10.
While Ocon advanced to SQ3, his teammate Pierre Gasly missed out on 11th, while Hamilton only finished 12th after two track-limit violations during the middle stage. The Alfa Romeo duo of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu were split by Liam Lawson’s AlphaTauri (the latter two were caught on track limits) at the foot of the SQ2 standings.
Lance Stroll followed up his exit from Q1 on Friday with an SQ1 elimination, after running wide at Turn 5 as the first stage came to a close, leaving the Aston Martin driver 16th on the grid behind Williams’ Alex Albon, who lost his best lap time. . To exceed the path limits.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Kevin Magnussen’s other Haas team, and Logan Sargeant’s second Williams team saw their lap times deleted for running over the white line marking the track, leaving them in 18th, 19th and 20th place respectively for the 100km Sprint time trial. Later. Saturday.
Sprint Shootout Highlights: 2023 Qatar Grand Prix
As it happened
SQ1 – Russell Verstappen and Norris lead with track limits in control
After the Losail race on Friday, Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli spotted a problem during routine analysis that is believed to have been caused by interference between the sidewall and the track’s “pyramid” barriers – prompting the FIA to… To announce new safety procedures and an additional training session Before Sprint Shootout.
With track boundaries also adjusted at Turns 12 and 13, drivers had a 10-minute ‘practice session’ at 1600 local time, allowing them to assess the changes and general track conditions, with the start of the Sprint Shootout pushed back to 1620. .
When the shootout began, as the sun began to set, it was Verstappen who set the early pace with a 1m25.510s lead on the required medium compound tires in SQ1 and SQ2, before unleashing the soft tires in SQ3.
Aiming to recover from the time removed in qualifying on Friday, Norris finished second, followed by Russell, Piastri and Alonso, with a group of drivers seeing their lap times removed for exceeding track limits – Hulkenberg, Sargent, Gasly, Leclerc, Stroll, Cho and Hamilton all lost.
Russell led the way in SQ1 as drivers became accustomed to the changes in track boundaries
That meant Stroll – keen to put his difficult first day behind him – sat inside the drop zone with a few minutes to go, along with Magnussen, Lawson, Cho and Sargeant, although there was still time for another flurry of runs.
While Verstappen and Norris watched the rest of the action from the pits, looking happy with their early times, Russell took advantage of the opportunity to come back and powered his way to a 1m25.413s finish, putting his Mercedes straight ahead of the Red Bull and McLaren.
Gasly finished fourth in the Alpine team, ahead of Sainz, Alonso, Piastri and his teammate Ocon, while Perez and Lawson completed the top ten behind Leclerc, Hamilton, Bottas, Hulkenberg and Cho, who was the last driver to advance to second. SQ2.
Stroll’s attempt to distance himself from danger was undone by an off-track excursion at Turn 5, leaving him in 16th place, with Albon, Tsunoda, Magnussen and Sargeant also falling at the first hurdle, having all lost lap times late in the session due to overrunning limits. Track.
Out: Stroll, Albon, Tsunoda, Magnussen, Sargent
Tsunoda pulled out of SQ1 at Shootout
SQ2 – Norris is in front as Hamilton suffers a shock exit
As SQ2 got underway, news came that the stewards would investigate Russell, Hamilton, Gasly, Lawson, Sargeant, Tsunoda, Stroll and Albon after the session for allegedly failing to follow the race director’s instructions regarding the maximum delta time.
When the first lap times began, Norris took pole with a time of 1m24.947s, followed by Verstappen and Piastri, while Leclerc, Hamilton, Cho and Sainz all lost early lap times due to track limits, meaning they had to regain their composure and go. once again.
After the final rounds, from which Norris and Verstappen again chose to withdraw, it was the McLaren driver who remained in front with his high-powered effort of 1 minute and 24 seconds, ahead of Russell, Perez and the double world champion.
Alonso was fifth, with Ferrari duo Leclerc and Sainz sixth and seventh respectively, while Piastri, the impressive Hülkenberg and Ocon took the final places in SQ3 – with the Alpine driver moving ahead at the expense of his teammate Gasly.
Hamilton had made a surprise exit from SQ2 after losing another track-limit lap, leaving him 12th behind former team-mate Bottas, with Lawson and Cho – who also breached track-limit rules again – the last drivers to withdraw.
Out of the race: Gasly, Hamilton, Bottas, Lawson, Cho
Hamilton withdrew from the second qualifying stage after exceeding the track limits
SQ3 – Piastri makes his way to the top of the era
Verstappen made his intentions known when the final stage of SQ3 rolled out, pumping out a lap of 1m24.543s on the soft rubber, but that was quickly taken down due to a track limits infringement, paving the way for Norris and Piastri to move into first and second place respectively.
It led to a tense finale in which the McLaren teammates and a recovering Verstappen battled for pole position, but it was the Australian rookie who got the job done when it mattered to clock 1m24.454s, while Norris’ challenge ended in a wild race. A moment at the last corner.
Verstappen had to settle for third on the timesheets, a few tenths off pole, but he remains in a strong position to secure a third successive drivers’ title in the Sprint race which will follow later this evening – with teammate Perez returning. eighth.
Russell placed his Mercedes in fourth place in Hamilton’s absence, while the Ferrari duo of Sainz and Leclerc finished fifth and sixth, and Hulkenberg showed competitive one-lap pace again on his way to seventh place, ahead of Perez, Alonso and Ocon, who lost more laps on the track’s limits. .
There could still be a twist in the story before the race starts, with Norris also cited for his alleged failure to follow the race director’s notes during the maximum delta time, and for him joining the aforementioned driver group listed between SQ1 and SQ2.
Norris could not hide his happiness after taking pole position in the Sprint race later on Saturday.
“I’m very, very happy,” said Piastri, the first-place finisher. “It was a very good lap. I saw Lando on the big screen, he made a mistake in the last corner, so I don’t know what his lap looked like, but no, I’m very, very happy. I struggled a little bit in the first two parts of those qualifying and then I picked myself up a little bit more.” In the last part.
The drivers will now take a break before lining up on the grid for the 100km Sprint Race in 2030 local time. Go to Racing Center To learn how you can capture the event.
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