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Norris edges out Verstappen for Sprint pole


Ahead of today's Shootout (groan!), the air temperature is 25 degrees C, while the track temperature is 43 degrees. Though bright and sunny, a million miles away from the biblical scenes witnessed yesterday.

Hopefully lessons have been learned by those drivers who lost out in qualifying after leaving it too late before heading out, a situation not helped by the 15 minute delay to the session.

Another factor that hangs over from yesterday is tyres, with a number of drivers already looking at their remaining sets with concern, and then there's impeding in the pitlane, with Russell, Ocon and Gasly all paying the price of not obeying the rules.

That said, with Interlagos notorious for traffic, it is likely that we will see further violations today... and then there's track limits.

The lights go green but it is a minute or so before the first driver emerges... a certain Mr Verstappen.

He is followed by Perez, Ocon, Leclerc, Albon and Sainz.

The Dutchman crosses the line at 11.888, while Perez responds with a 12.218.

Ocon goes third and Albon fourth, however Leclerc splits the Bulls with a 12.107 before Sainz goes top with an 11.796.

Hamilton goes second (11.870) and Russell fourth.

Piastri goes eighth with a 12.356 while a 12.224 puts Alonso seventh.

Norris goes fifth with a 12.083 but is demoted when Magnussen posts a 12.058.

Ricciardo goes ninth with a 12.175 as Verstappen complains that he was not informed that Perez was about to pass him and thereby compromise his own lap. "That was not expected," the world champion is told.

"I've got something stuck on the left-front wheel deflector," reports Magnussen.

Piastri can only manage 14th (12.356), as Stroll goes sixteenth.

Verstappen goes quickest in S1, but Norris goes quicker as Stroll fails to improve on 16th.

Verstappen aborts his lap while Norris maintains a strong pace. Norris goes second (11.824) as Ocon crashes at Turn 3.

The session is red-flagged as Alonso is shown to have a left-front puncture. That's his second puncture of the weekend.

The session will not be restarted which is bad news for Albon and Stroll, in particular.

"The Haas screwed me middle sector," complains Sargeant of Magnussen. "He can't just sit there, what's he doing?"

Replays show contact between Ocon and Alonso, and while the Frenchman cries "idiot Alonso", the fact is that he was actually fighting his Alpine when passing the Spaniard, the Frenchman seemingly suffering understeer after clouting the kerb at the exit of Turn 2.

Quickest is Sainz, ahead of Norris, Hamilton, Verstappen, Russell, Magnussen, Leclerc, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and Perez.

We lose Ocon, Stroll, Zhou, Albon and Stroll.

In addition to the Ocon/Alonso clash the stewards are to investigate Russell, Norris and Ocon for failing to adhere to the maximum delta time.

As the barriers are repaired, there is a delay to the start of Q2, however it looks unlikely that Alonso will play any part such is the damage to his car. That said, his crew are working hard to get the car repaired.

Of course, fans of a certain vintage will be aware that Ocon has history here - and in that particular complex of corners.

"People were just playing games," says Sargeant, "just really on the limit, moving out of the way at the last possible minute. It's frustrating. We struggled with rear overheating, but I was eight-tenths up on that lap when I got that traffic. The pace has been good all weekend, but nothing to show for it."

At 11:35, race control announces that SQ2 will get underway at 11:40.

Verstappen is first out, followed by Perez, Hamilton, Russell and Norris. Work continues on Alonso's car.

"It's gustier on track," reports Verstappen, who subsequently crosses the line at 11.449.

Perez goes second (11.611) and Hamilton third (11.941).

Aston Martin reports that Alonso will not be able to continue due to the damage, as Piastri goes third and Hulkenberg fourth.

An 11.624 sees Leclerc go third, only to be demoted when his Spanish teammate goes second with an 11.581.

Norris goes seventh, ahead of Magnussen, Hamilton and Norris, as Ricciardo, Gasly, Bottas and Zhou look to be only going for one hot lap.

With just under three minutes remaining all 15 drivers head out, with Verstappen leading the way again.

The Dutchman goes quicker in S1, as Bottas goes seventh with an 11.872. Verstappen improves to 11.262.

Tsunoda goes sixth, Magnussen seventh and Ricciardo second with an 11.423!

Perez goes quickest with an 11.230 as Hamilton goes fourth, Russell fifth and Norris top with an 11.221.

Leclerc goes fifth and Sainz seventh, while Tsunoda clings on to tenth.

"Unfortunately, we could not complete the qualifying," Alonso tells Sky Sports. "It's a shame both cars are out now. A lot of damage for both cars now, I haven't seen the replay but people tell me he lost the car a little bit. Wrong place, wrong moment."

Quickest is Norris, ahead of Perez, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Hamilton, Sainz, Russell, Piastri and Tsunoda.

We lose Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Gasly, Bottas and Alonso.

The eight minute long final session gets underway, but it is a couple of minutes before the first driver emerges... it is Piastri, who leaves the pitlane with 3:20 remaining, enough for one flying lap.

The Australian is followed by Norris, Verstappen, who overtakes a number of drivers leaving the pitlane, Leclerc, Ricciardo and Sainz.

Norris, Perez, Verstappen, Hamilton, Russell and Tsunoda all on fresh softs.

Piastri crosses the line at 11.189, his teammate responds with a 10.622.

Verstappen can only manage 10.683, while Tsunoda goes third (11.019), ahead of Leclerc and Ricciardo.

Perez goes third (10.756), as Sainz goes eighth, ahead of Piastri.

Russell goes fourth, leapfrogging his teammate, as Norris claims pole by 0.061s.

Norris has pole, ahead of Verstappen, Perez, Russell, Hamilton, Tsunoda, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Sainz and Piastri,

Magnussen is eleventh, ahead of Hulkenberg, Gasly, Bottas, Alonso, Ocon, Stroll, Zhou, Albon and Sargeant.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Interlagos City here.


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1. Posted by KKK, 04/11/2023 17:48

"It's quite simple....sprints are meaningless and ruin the grand prix race, what with damage and lack of tyres. Utter stupidity, 70% of fans don't want them, it's just a money making gimmick"

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