Albon and Sargeant send the Williams to the third row
After three free practice sessions contested in very different circumstances, and never at qualifying time, it is difficult to know who will take pole position for this Las Vegas F1 Grand Prix.
The Ferrari drivers impressed on Friday and hid their game during FP3. We know that Carlos Sainz will not start on pole after his penalty, but he will be in the running for the best qualifying time, just like his teammate Charles Leclerc.
The Red Bull drivers did not manage to put everything together during the free practices preceding qualifying, but we know that the RB19 and Max Verstappen have the potential to be in pole position. However, the competition has sharpened its weapons and moved closer.
EL3 saw a top 3 including a Mercedes, a McLaren and a Williams, and these three teams could play as runners-up during qualifying. This is also the case for Fernando Alonso, while the first challenge for the drivers will be to avoid the pitfalls of this urban circuit with its particular layout and aggressive bumps.
Lance Stroll received 5 place penalties for overtaking under yellow flag during FP3, just before the final interruption of the session. The Canadian therefore joins Sainz among the penalized drivers, the Spaniard having suffered 10 positions.
Q1 – 18 minutes
With air temperature at 15 degrees and track temperature at 17 degrees, tire heating is not as big of a problem as expected. But some drivers could complete two consecutive laps. Kevin Magnussen signed the first reference in 1’35″9, beaten by Sergio Pérez in 1’35″3, then by Leclerc in 1’34″898.
Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri took third and fourth place ahead of Magnussen. Valtteri Bottas took the sixth provisional time ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz, who did not achieve his first time. Logan Sargeant achieved his with the second time.
Verstappen took second place 0″089 behind Leclerc, and Magnussen signed the best absolute first split to finally take provisional fourth place. Nico Hülkenberg took the eighth time between the McLarens, while Sainz was in a second fast lap on its first set of tires.
The Spaniard set the best time in 1’34″787, but Leclerc greatly improved his performance to sign a 1’34″072! Piastri set the sixth time while Norris was hampered by a Red Bull.
Fernando Alonso was fourth, while Esteban Ocon set the tenth time. Alex Albon confirmed the good dispositions of the Williams with the fourth fastest time, while Yuki Tsunoda lost his for failure to respect the track limits. Norris took the second fastest time, quickly beaten by Pérez and Hamilton who got in front of him, but far behind Leclerc.
Stroll only took 14th place, and Russell’s time was canceled. Piastri moved up to sixth, and Russell set a time putting him in fifth. Verstappen also progressed, regaining second place, one tenth behind Leclerc.
Albon improved slightly to seventh, and Sargeant took third, once again showing himself to be very impressive! Sainz improved the best time to 1’33″851, immediately beaten by Leclerc in 1’33″617.
Hülkenberg, who really prefers the old Haas, took fourth time, beaten by Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas, while Magnussen placed himself just behind his teammate. At 2:30 minutes from the end of the session, the AlphaTauri drivers seemed to be in the most difficulty, but the rest of the field looked like they could reach Q2.
Russell lost another time due to track limitations, pushing him back to 13th place. Piastri did not improve to 17th place, unlike Magnussen who passed just ahead of Hülkenberg. Hamilton moved ahead of the Haas, and Russell moved up to third. Ricciardo took 14th place, and Stroll moved up to 11th, also eliminating Norris in the second McLaren.
Those eliminated were Norris, Ocon, Zhou, Piastri and Tsunoda.
Q2 – 15 minutes
Replays showed that many drivers got in trouble on track. Verstappen attacked Ocon and missed his turn, then called the Frenchman an idiot for no apparent reason. Stroll is still under investigation for not slowing down enough under a yellow flag.
Magnussen set the best time in 1’34″919, after Alonso and Stroll set times which were not benchmarks, since they obviously did two preparation laps. Sainz beat the best performance in 1′ 34″146, beaten by Leclerc in 1’33″966.
Pérez beat this time by a thousandth in 1’33″965, and Alonso did better in 1’33″880. Stroll took the sixth time and Gasly the seventh, before Sargeant did better in sixth position. Gasly placed fifth, and Albon replaced the Frenchman in this place a few seconds later.
The Mercedes F1 drivers then took to the track. Hamilton took first place in 1’33″837, and Russell took second in 1’33″870! Verstappen did better in 1’33″607, the track continuing to progress. Pérez set the third provisional time.
Leclerc regained control in 1’32″834, and Sainz placed second, 5 tenths behind his teammate in second place. Magnussen finished in fourth position, and Hülkenberg took the ninth time. Bottas entered the top 10 by a narrow margin.
Stroll moved out of the elimination zone to tenth, and Russell moved up further to third. Sargeant set the sixth fastest time and Alonso the fifth. Bottas improved to eighth, and Albon moved up to fifth, before Gasly set the fourth fastest time. Pérez was no longer on the track and left the top 10, while Leclerc improved further to 1’32″775.
Those eliminated were Hamilton, Pérez, Hülkenberg, Stroll and Ricciardo.
Q3 – 12 minutes
Magnussen first set a time of 1’34″2, Gasly beat him in 1’33″7, then Alonso in 1’33″5, and Sainz signed a time of 1’33″043, beaten by Leclerc in 1’33″021. Verstappen took third time behind the two Ferraris.
Russell took to the track staggered and took advantage of being all alone on the circuit, but the Mercedes F1 driver only set the fifth fastest time. All the drivers returned to the track for one last run!
Leclerc did not improve in the first sector but posted the second best absolute sector, and he finished his time improving in 1’32″726. Verstappen missed his second lap and did not even finish it.
Sainz failed 0.044 behind his teammate, while Sargeant set the fourth fastest time! Bottas took fifth place and Russell improved to fourth position. Albon took the fifth fastest time, and Gasly beat the Williams.
Leclerc therefore takes pole position and will share the front row with Verstappen. Russell and Gasly will be on the second row while Williams signs the big performance of the weekend by placing its two cars, Albon then Sargeant, on the third row. Bottas and Magnussen will be on the fourth row ahead of Alonso and Hamilton. Pérez will be 11th at the start ahead of Sainz.
|Pos.||Pilot||Car||Time Q1||Q2 time||Time Q3|
|01||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF-23||1:33.617||1:32.775||1:32.726|
|02||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari SF-23||1:33,851||1:33.338||1:32,770|
|03||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19||1:34.190||1:33.572||1:33.104|
|04||George Russell||Mercedes W14||1:34.137||1:33.351||1:33.112|
|05||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault A523||1:34.272||1:33,494||1:33.239|
|06||Alex Albon||Williams Mercedes FW45||1:34.634||1:33.588||1:33.323|
|07||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes FW45||1:34.525||1:33.733||1:33.513|
|08||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43||1:34.305||1:33,809||1:33.525|
|09||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-23||1:34.337||1:33.664||1:33.537|
|10||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23||1:34.422||1:33.617||1:33.555|
|11||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W14||1:34.307||1:33,837|
|12||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19||1:34.574||1:33.855|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas Ferrari VF-23||1:34.269||1:33,979|
|14||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23||1:34.504||1:34.199|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04||1:34.683||1:34.308|
|16||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes MCL60||1:34.703|
|17||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A523||1:34.834|
|18||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43||1:34,849|
|19||Oscar Piastri||McLaren Mercedes MCL60||1:34,850|
|20||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04||1:36,447|
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