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Verstappen claims Interlagos pole


Ahead of today's qualifying session the air temperature is 31 degrees C, while the track temperature is 43 degrees. It remains overcast and windy with a 60% chance of rain.

Carlos Sainz set the pace earlier, edging out teammate Charles Leclerc, however Ferrari was the only one of the big gun teams to run the softs.

Oscar Piastri gave a glimpse of what might be possible when he went quickest in the first two sectors on the red-banded rubber before diving into the pits.

Lando Norris and the Mercedes pair only tried the mediums while Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez never ventured away from the hards.

Such a strategy suggests supreme confidence but as we know from experience things can - and often do - go wrong, and the very nature of the Sprint format means that those who get it wrong usually pay a heavy price.

Then again, we wouldn't bet against Red Bull, Mercedes or McLaren being up there to bother Ferrari this afternoon or tomorrow.

Following a number of punctures in practice earlier the start of the session is delayed by 15 minutes. Early in the practice session Esteban Ocon reported seeing a screw on his tyre and as there were a number of punctures, including on Fernando Alonso's car, the track is being swept clean.

This will not help in terms of the expected arrival of the rain.

Despite the delay, while other drivers are out of their cars chatting to their engineers or staring at the monitors, Verstappen sits waiting in his car.

As the clock ticks down to 15:15, Piastri heads the queue in the pitlane. As the lights go green he heads out, followed by Albon, Sargeant, Alonso and Stroll.

One of the biggest cheers is for Hamilton.

Piastri gets things underway with an 11.494, Albon responding with an 11.545.

Stroll goes quickest with an 11.420, ahead of Bottas, Piastri and Albon, but all are demoted when Norris goes quickest (10623) and Verstappen second (10.944).

Gasly has been noted for impeding Gasly in the pitlane.

Hamilton goes second with a 10.884 as Russell goes fourth (11.239), ahead of Magnussen.

A 10.998 sees Gasly go fourth.

Verstappen complains that his car is like a "kangaroo".

Ricciardo goes fifth with an 11.418, ahead of Russell, Magnussen, Stroll, Ocon and Tsunoda.

"No rain expected for 2 to 3 minutes, we have one timed lap," Sainz is told.

Leclerc goes quickest with a 10.472, while his teammate can only manage fourth (10.900).

Piastri goes quickest in S1, maintaining the pace in S2. At the line it's 10.519 which puts him second.

Stroll goes third with a 10.551, the Canadian quickest in S2. Alonso goes fifth, ahead of Hamilton.

A 10.668 sees Perez go fifth.

Ocon improves to eleventh, as his teammate goes quickest in S1.

Tsunoda goes sixth but is demoted when Hamilton leapfrogs him with a 10.831.

Verstappen can only mange fifth (10.655), as Piastri claims the tyres are only good for one lap.

"We are going to take another new set, the others have," Hamilton is told. The Briton is currently eighth.

Gasly improves to seventh with a 10.793.

With 3:40 remaining, Hulkenberg, Zhou, Magnussen, Sargeant and Albon comprise the drop zone, with Ricciardo, Ocon and Russell hovering.

And just like that Albon goes fourth with a 10.621.

Despite that time, Leclerc, Piastri and Norris appear to feel that they are safe.

"Drops of rain," warns Stroll.

Despite which Hulkenberg goes quickest in S1.

Sainz goes sixth (10.624), Sargeant 15th and Hamilton fourth. However, he is demoted when Russell posts a 10.340 to go quickest.

Hulkenberg goes third (10.475), Magnussen sixth and then Alonso goes sixth.

Ricciardo fails to improve and misses the cut, while Tsunoda makes it by the skin of his teeth.

Or rather he doesn't as a 10.763 from Ocon drops the Japanese into the danger zone.

A late surge from Verstappen sees the world champion go second with a 10.436.

Tsunoda complains he was impeded in the pitlane by Ocon and Hamilton.

Quickest is Russell, ahead of Verstappen, Leclerc, Hulkenberg, Piastri, Stroll, Alonso, Magnussen, Hamilton and Albon.

We lose Tsunoda, Ricciardo, Bottas, Sargeant and Zhou.

Stroll, Ocon, Gasly and Russell are among those to be investigated after the session.

Verstappen heads the queue in the pitlane, he heads out, followed by Perez, Albon, Alonso and Stroll.

As Guenther Steiner insists that the rain will not affect the session, Verstappen and Russell are both warned of light spots.

Verstappen sets the benchmark... a 10.162. Perez goes second with a 10.370.

Albon goes third (10.840), but is demoted by Stroll who goes third with a 10.388.

Norris splits the Bulls with a 10.323 as Hamilton goes fifth (10.518) and Russell eighth.

Norris and Piastri are both on hot laps, the Briton goes second (10.323) and the Australian third.

Sainz can only manage an 11.065 which puts him thirteenth.

Hulkenberg goes eighth and Magnussen ninth, as Russell joins the Ferrari duo in the drop zone.

Hamilton improves to fourth with a 10.352 however he is demoted when Russell goes second (10.316).

Leclerc goes fifth (10.346) but is demoted when his teammate posts a 10.316 to go third.

Replay shows Hamilton really pushing it as he hangs out the rear of his Mercedes.

Alonso goes second with a 10.237 but a 10.021 from Norris sees him drop to third.

Albon has his time deleted and drops to 15th.

Perez goes third with a 10.219 as Piastri is told to save his tyre, the Australian subsequently pits.

Ocon, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Gasly and Albon comprise the drop zone, the Briton seemingly having given up as he is not leaving the pits.

Hulkenberg fails to improve, as does his teammate.

Ocon aborts in the final sector while his teammate also fails to make the cut.

Hamilton improves to sixth, and Russell eighth.

Quickest is Norris, ahead of Verstappen, Perez, Alonso, Sainz, Hamilton, Leclerc, Russell, Piastri and Stoll.

We lose Hulkenberg, Ocon, Gasly, Magnussen and Albon.

Check out our Friday gallery from Interlagos City here.


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