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Verstappen takes Brazil pole

NEWS STORY
16/11/2019

Though - technical directives, or no technical directives - Ferrari appears to have rediscovered its pre-Austin pace, the SF90s were no match for Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in final practice.

The world champion's best time was just 0.026s quicker than the Dutchman's while both Ferrari drivers were almost over 0.3s behind.

While that sounds like nothing - indeed, it is nothing - around a track like Interlagos it's the difference between hero and zero.

Even so, 0.3s is a whole lot better than 0.8s, which is where Albon and Bottas ended up.

As ever the midfield threatens to be a cauldron of excitement as 7th to 16th are covered by just 0.383s.

Showing no signs of yesterday's problems, Kvyat was top of the pile in FP3, ahead of Giovinazzi and the McLaren pair, who were separated by just 0.003s.

With the midfield battle so tight, and the track length so short, every little error will make a difference, as will every little boost, therefore expect to see some drivers taking advantage of tows this afternoon.

Then again, recalling the shenanigans in Monza, that could end in tears for some.

Though Ferrari may well turn up the wick in this session, don't forget that Leclerc has a ten place grid penalty, though that is unlikely to prevent the youngster going for pole.

Ahead of Q1, the air temperature is 21.1 degrees C, while the track temperature is 36.3 degrees. Though it is bright, there is a 10% chance of rain.

In the moments before the green light, there is work going ongoing on the cars of Hamilton and Verstappen, but there doesn't appear to be any urgency.

Ahead of the session, the locals appear to taking full advantage of the race sponsor's product.

Kubica is first out, the Pole sporting a brand new set of softs, he is followed by his Williams teammate.

As Giovinazzi and Raikkonen head out, Russell gets proceedings underway with a 10.688.

Giovinazzi posts 9.324 and Raikkonen 9.363 as Kubica aborts his lap and tries again.

As the Ferrari pair begin their flying lap, Kvyat posts 9.320 and Gasly 9.288.

Vettel stops the clock at 8.556 with Leclerc posting 8.592 moments later.

As Albon goes quickest (8.503), Norris posts 8.995 to go fourth.

"Something went, something on the engine," reports Sainz, who is told to pit.

As Verstappen and the Mercedes pair begin their first flyers, the Dutchman is quickest in the first two sectors, and despite a mistake goes quickest with an 8.242.

Hamilton can only manage fifth (8.614), while Bottas posts 8.729 to go sixth.

An 8.510, sees Leclerc improve to third.

Magnussen goes best of the rest with an 8.875, as Hamilton warns that his tyres are too hot and he needs to cool them.

While Vettel pits having failed to improve, Leclerc stays out, even though his tyres are six laps old.

Behind seventh-placed Magnussen, it's Norris, Grosjean and Gasly.

The drop zone comprises the Williams pair, Hulkenberg, Stroll and Sainz, who has yet to post a time. Perez and the Alfa pair are hovering.

An 8.545 sees Bottas leapfrog Vettel to take 4th.

Gasly improves to eighth, as it looks as though Sainz won't be coming out again.

Currently 16th, Hulkenberg is looking for some space before he begins his final flyer.

The German posts a PB in S1, as Ricciardo also looks set to improve. Despite a couple of mistakes Hulkenberg maintains his pace, finally crossing the line at 9.050 to go tenth, just ahead of his teammate.

Grosjean goes thirteenth and Raikkonen fourteenth, while Kvyat can only manage 16th.

Grosjean's claim that he "picked up so much understeer, what happened?", is helpfully punctuated with a series of long bleeps.

Quickest is Verstappen, ahead of Leclerc, Albon, Bottas, Vettel, Hamilton, Magnussen, Norris, Gasly and Hulkenberg.

We lose Kvyat, Stroll, Russell, Kubica and Sainz.

Q2 gets underway, but it is several minutes before a car appears, it is Hamilton, followed by his Mercedes teammate. Both are on softs.

"Am I first out," asks Hamilton, who should surely know. He is told to drop back as more cars are heading out.

Hamilton posts 8.088, with Bottas posting 8.232 moments later, as Giovinazzi goes third ahead of Perez and Hulkenberg.

As Grosjean and Magnussen go fourth and fifth, Albon posts 8.117, as all are demoted when Leclerc posts 7.888 and Verstappen an impressive 7.503.

Vettel goes third with an 8.050, 0.547s off Verstappen's pace.

Leaving his garage, Norris complains that Raikkonen was released into his path.

Grosjean is best of the rest, ahead of Gasly, Magnussen and Raikkonen.

Interestingly, Leclerc posted his best time - just 0.385s off Verstappen's pace - posted his best time on the mediums.

Hulkenberg reports that he's still struggling turning into the first two corners.

Hamilton and Bottas are back on track for the final assault, as is Leclerc.

Norris, Ricciardo, Giovinazzi, Perez and Hulkenberg comprise the drop zone, with Raikkonen, Magnussen, Gasly and Grosjean hovering.

Perez fails to improve as do a number of other drivers, courtesy of a double yellow as Giovinazzi loses the rear of his Alfa in T8 and spins.

Quickest is Verstappen, ahead of Leclerc, Vettel, Hamilton, Albon, Bottas, Grosjean, Gasly, Magnussen and Raikkonen.

We lose Norris, Ricciardo, Giovinazzi, Hulkenberg and Perez.

The lights go green for Q3, but once again there is no rush to get to work. Grosjean breaks the deadlock, but due to Haas' location in the pitlane Raikkonen and Gasly are actually on track first.

Vettel is the first of the Ferraris to head out, followed by the Bulls.

Grosjean posts 9.484 and Raikkonen 9.569, but moments later Hamilton raises the bar with a 7.861.

No sooner has Bottas gone second (7.874), than Vettel goes quickest (7.631) and Leclerc second.

However, Verstappen stops the clock at 7.623, edging out Vettel by 0.008s.

Despite that time, Verstappen is told it wasn't a great lap. "Yeh, I ****** up," he replies.

Albon is sixth following the first runs, ahead of Grosjean, Raikkonen and Gasly, while Magnussen is only going to make one run.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Interlagos, here.

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