Verstappen claims pole for US Grand Prix Sprint event

© XPB 

Max Verstappen was pushed all the way in Saturday’s sprint qualifying but the Red Bull driver still came out on top to start this afternoon’s race from pole position.

Verstappen led all three segments of the session, but the top four drivers – Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris – were separated by just a tenth of a second in SQ3.

Meanwhile, it was another disappointing session fro Aston Martin with Fernando Alonso failing to make the SQ3 cut while Lance Stroll was classified P14.


Last time out in Qatar, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri took pole for the Sprint event after a standout performance. However, the Australian charger’s performance in qualifying on Friday, when he finished P10, did not bode well for his chances of repeating his Lusail feat.

On the other hand, yesterday’s poleman Charles Leclerc was keen to pick up where he had left off the day before. But the Monegasque was sure to endure a strong challenge from a revengeful Max Verstappen after a track limit infringement set the Red Bull driver back to P6 on Friday.

SQ1: Verstappen goes top - Haas drivers get knocked out

The condensed 12-minute session got underway with all drivers heading out onto the track on the medium tyre as the rules mandate. The soft rubber will only be allowed in the third and final segment of the shootout.

Lewis Hamilton put the first flying lap on the board, but the Mercedes driver was quickly overhauled by both Ferraris as the field settled in and upped the pace.

A minute later Verstappen went top with a 1m35.997s that put him 0.3s clear of Leclerc.

With three minutes to go Bottas, Magnussen, Ricciardo, Stroll and Sargeant lingered in the elimination zone.

But Ricciardo and Stroll were able to squeeze through into SQ2, leaving Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Bottas, Tsunoda and Sargeant to contemplate would could have been.

Meanwhile an incident between Leclerc and Russell was set to be investigated after the session, while Russell, Albon, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Gasly, Piastri, Bottas, Tsunoda and Perez were all set to be investigated for failing to follow the race director’s instructions on the maximum delta time.

SQ2: Verstappen rules again - Aston drivers tumble

The second segment kicked off with 10 minutes for 10 cars to make it through to SQ3, and with Verstappen setting a 1m35.181s new benchmark.

The Dutchman was followed by Leclerc and Sainz, while a clear running order had yet to be established among the bottom five.

A gasp from the grandstands around COTA’s Turn 9 signaled a spin for Verstappen who swept across the grass before rejoining the track stirred but not shaken.

The final rush saw Albon and Gasly knock respectively Alonso and Ocon into the drop zone where the pair remained along with Riccardo in P11, Stroll and Zhou.

SQ3: Verstappen pushed all the way but gets it done

A switch to the soft tyre delivered the promise of faster lap times in the final 5-minute mad dash.
Verstappen was the first man out, with his rivals following suit.

Once again, but predictably so, Verstappen lowered the benchmark to 1m34.538s. Norris’ best effort landed the McLaren driver 0.101s adrift from the Dutchman.

Leclerc appeared in contention for pole only to for the Ferrari driver to come up short by 0.055s.

Hamilton confirmed Mercedes’ progress as he slotted in third, 0.069s behind Verstappen.

Thereafter followed Norris and Piastri who rounded off the top five, with Sainz, Perez, Russell, Albon and Gasly making up the second half of the top-ten.

However, the 0.101s spread between the top four boded well for a tight battle in this afternoon’s 30-minute mad dash. Verstappen claimed his third Sprint Shootout pole of the season but the reigning world champion will have a few furious chargers snapping at his heels.

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