Brazilian GP 2023

NOVEMBER 3, 2023

Qualifying Report - Verstappen takes grand prix pole as rain shortens Q3

Charles Leclerc
© Ferrari

By Mark Karp

In a thrilling qualifying session marred by São Paulo's capricious weather, Red Bull's Max Verstappen clinched pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix this Sunday. With looming storm clouds, his quick lap allowed him to top the time sheets before the heavens opened, washing out any chance of his rivals improving their times.

The qualifying session began with an ominous tone as dark clouds congregated above, threatening the track with rain. This prompted the drivers to hasten onto the circuit early in Q3, with an urgency to set a fast lap before the weather turned.

The rainfall quickly escalated, cloaking the circuit in darkness and forcing the stewards to throw a red flag, effectively sealing Verstappen's position at the front of the grid. His championship rival, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, secured a front-row start, albeit unable to challenge Verstappen's time due to the premature end of the session.

Amidst the gusts and downpour, the circuit's conditions deteriorated rapidly, rendering the track treacherous. Oscar Piastri in the McLaren, pushing to challenge the frontrunners, skidded off the tarmac at Turn 12.

A surprise performance saw Lance Stroll claim the third spot, a significant result for Aston Martin, which had strategically executed their runs to perfection in the volatile weather, his team mate Fernando Alonso placed fourth, with the Mercedes GP's of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell fifth and sixth.

McLaren misjudged the weather, leaving Lando Norris, who had shown potential by topping Q2, in seventh, while his teammate Piastri rounded out the top ten.

Both Alpines are under scrutiny for impeding, having slowed drivers in the pit exit.