Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2019

Verstappen dominates qualifying for Brazilian Grand Prix pole

2019 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying

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Max Verstappen led all three stages of qualifying at Interlagos to take pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver saw off the challenge from Ferrari and clinched his second pole position of the year. He will line up in front of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.


The Williams drivers had been at the bottom of the times all weekend so there was little surprise neither made the cut for Q1. George Russell lapped almost half a second faster than Robert Kubica, despite complaining he didn’t have his tyres at the correct temperature for one run.

Racing Point also lingered in the lower reaches of the times during practice. However Carlos Sainz Jnr’s misfortune handed them a chance to get a car in Q2. The McLaren driver reported a loss of power on his first flying lap and the team brought him into the pits to limit any risk of further damage.

Sergio Perez grabbed the opportunity to scrape through, by just three hundredths of a second, after Daniil Kvyat did not improve by enough on his final run. That put the Toro Rosso driver out along with Lance Stroll in the other Racing Point.

Red Bull signalled their potential in the first session, Max Verstappen leading the way with only Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari separating him from team mate Alexander Albon. The Mercedes pair, however, could do no better than fifth and sixth, Lewis Hamilton complaining his tyres were too hot during his run.

This is the 20th year the Interlagos circuit has been used

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’09.320
17Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’09.536
18George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’10.126
19Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’10.614
20Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-RenaultNo time

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With a 10-place grid penalty hanging over him for the start of the race, Leclerc was the only driver who opted to take medium tyres in Q2, setting his start tyres for the race. Even so he set the second-fastest initial run of anyone.

Verstappen was quicker but Vettel, despite running softs, was almost two-tenths of a second slower than his team mate, perhaps treating his soft rubber more gently, knowing he’ll be starting on it. Hamilton was over half a second slower than the Red Bull on the same rubber.

Haas’s encouraging afternoon continued. Both drivers were in the top 10 after their first runs, and they stayed there as no one managed to improve at the end of the session.

Antonio Giovinazzi spun his Alfa Romeo in front of his team mate, though Kimi Raikkonen secured a place in the final 10. He beat Lando Norris by just a hundredth of a second.

When Norris was told he had gone out the McLaren driver said: “I know. Sorry about that. Didn’t put it together.” Perez and the two Renault drivers missed the cut as well. That meant Pierre Gasly, having left his team mate behind in Q1, took his Toro Rosso into the final round.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’08.868
12Daniel RicciardoRenault1’08.903
13Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’08.919
14Nico HulkenbergRenault1’08.921
15Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’09.035

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As the shoot-out for pole position began, Mercedes closed the deficit to their rivals but couldn’t overcome it. Hamilton set a 1’07.861, and Bottas was just a hundredth of a second slower, but they were beaten by the Ferrari pair and Verstappen.

It was even closer at the front. While Vettel was almost a tenth of a second clear of Leclerc, Verstappen took the fastest time by a mere eight-thousandths. It wasn’t a clean lap, however: Verstappen was slightly slower than he had been in Q2 after he dropped a wheel off the track. He told his team on the radio to check his front wing for damage.

Vettel had also not ended his first lap well, running wide at the final corner. But the track was beginning to cool and all the drivers found it hard to improve on their subsequent runs.

Verstappen managed, however, ekeing out another tenth of a second over Vettel. The Ferrari driver didn’t manage to find any more time. “Damn it,” he said, “it was the last corner on the first run, for fuck’s sake. The second run I just didn’t have the same amount of grip.”

Leclerc was also disappointed after losing third place to Hamilton on his last run, meaning he will line up 14th on Sunday. Gasly took seventh – meaning a sixth-place start – ahead of a very pleased Romain Grosjean.

Top ten in Q3

1Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’07.508
2Sebastian VettelFerrari1’07.631
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’07.699
4Charles LeclercFerrari1’07.728
5Valtteri BottasMercedes1’07.874
6Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’07.935
7Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’08.837
8Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’08.854
9Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’08.984
10Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’09.037

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2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “Verstappen dominates qualifying for Brazilian Grand Prix pole”

  1. Wow what a difference from the previous headline of HAM being 2 tenths ahead.
    Stunning performance from VER. Almost 2 tenths faster than the 6 times world champion.

    1. Merc really did seem to lose something from fp to Q. Hams laps in FP weren’t perfect but the car looked better, whatever happened it was big.
      Getting the car right seems to be extra tricky this weekend, you could see the difference in grip from Max to Albon, max was visually far quicker and to make matters worse on a short track, massive gap. Down Senna, it was like they were driving different cars, Albon seemingly didn’t drive hard enough to get the car working.

      1. For Mercedes to be so far back, something must be wrong with setup.

        Maybe Hamilton doesnt care since he is WDC already and we are missing his extra 2 tenths.

  2. The main thing for Max is stay ahead of Sebastian in the 1st lap. It will be easier for Max as the race goes on. It would be so great if Max and Charles have almost equal points before the final Abu Dhabi GP. Keep fighting, Max!

  3. The Honda must have had some decent power up the hill, Verstappen was only 0.023s slower than the quickest car (Leclerc) in S3. Might have made up some in the corner, but still closer than I’d have expected.

    1. Is that really a surprise now Ferrari had to take off their trickery?

    2. yeah, and keep in mind that Charles’s PU is fresh, they can push it very very hard given there’s only two races left. Good stuff from Honda this year.

      1. Maybe Redbull just have started cheating! Now with Merc research they know how to do it

        1. What Merc research?

          Maybe now Honda has same work around the rules Ferrari are doing.

          1. Helmut Marko said Merc made reserach and got knowledge and rbr dare to take action that’s why they teaming up against Ferrari.

  4. Wow, judging by Albon’s lap (who is no slouch) he just put that car where it didnt belong once more… this is why I love his driving.

    1. What? 4 tenths behind his teammate?

      1. @tonyyeb

        No the driver in the headline

        1. Still think it an odd comment considering Verstappen has been this kind of distance ahead for most of their pairing. If anything I’d have thought this comment was actually about Gasly?

    2. Blaize Falconberger (@)
      16th November 2019, 20:58

      Don’t worry, I know what you mean…

      1. @jelle-van-der-meer Cooling track, which is a bit weird, considering the weather, but I beleive it dropped 7-8 degrees C throughout qualification. That’s also why most didn’t really improve on their second runs in each session.

        1. Errrr, not sure how that ended up here…. It was a reply for much further down in the comments :-)

    3. Moi, with the exception of the Japanese GP, Albon has been consistently slower than Verstappen in qualifying.

      Now, excluding the races where engine penalties for either Albon or Verstappen meant they didn’t put in representative qualifying laps, the gap between Albon and Verstappen in Q3 is as follows.
      Singapore: 0.598s (0.6% slower)
      Japan: Same time
      Mexico: 0.580s (0.8% slower, albeit with Albon not getting a second lap in due to yellow flags)
      USA: 0.452s (0.5% slower)
      Brazil: 0.427s (0.6% slower)

      Percentage wise, Albon’s been lagging fairly consistently about 0.6%, which has worked out at about 0.45-0.6s for recent tracks, behind Verstappen in terms of lap time. It means there have been races where some midfield drivers have been closer to Albon than Albon has been to Verstappen: for example, in Singapore Sainz was only 0.407s behind Albon, or 0.4% slower than Albon, whilst in the USA that gap was 0.299s or 0.3% between Albon and Sainz.

      In that respect, the performance we’ve seen in Brazil is right in line with what we’ve seen in previous races – Albon qualifying 6th again and 0.6% slower than Verstappen. If anything, the consistency of that gap suggests this is more of a case of Verstappen delivering the expected performance of the car and Albon underperforming instead, as that gap points towards a fairly consistent performance deficit on Albon’s part.

      1. More like Verstappen is super fast when he gets it right. Temps were falling setups were deteriorating and Max could hook it up.

        1. @jureo, to me, it would seem to be more logical that the gap you are seeing in Brazil is the normal long term gap between the two drivers, with Japan being a case where Verstappen was either a bit slower than normal, or Albon was having a particularly strong weekend.

          I know that a lot of fans want to paint a heroic picture of their favourite driver pulling some sort of miracle lap out of the car, but realistically I don’t believe that happens anywhere near as often as people like to claim is the case – and this feels like another case of people wanting to claim that this was a “miraculous lap” when it looks a lot more like a fairly normal performance.

          Let’s be blunt – if a midfield driver puts in a supposedly comparable “miraculous” performance in qualifying, nobody cares less because the gap between the top three teams and the rest is such that the best that midfield driver can realistically hope for at most circuits is 7th place.

          Just look at the indifference over Gasly’s performance at Toro Rosso, where he had a similar gap over Kvyat in qualifying and has ended up as “best of the rest”. We’re not seeing people fawn over his laps and say “oh, what a wonderful performance, he’s really put that car where it didn’t belong” – barely anybody seems to have even acknowledged that performance, and those few who did comment on it mostly commented “how come he couldn’t perform like that at Red Bull?”.

          Just like I feel a lot of the “comeback drives” by drivers in the top three teams over the past few years have received a lot more praise than I think they deserved, so too I feel that fans have a tendency to over praise the qualifying performances of drivers in the top three teams and to underrate those in midfield teams, given that midfield teams aren’t given the media attention or lavish commentator praise that those top three teams get.

  5. Why do I get the feeling that Mercedes is feeling very comfortable with 2 cars in the 2nd row?
    LEC is starting 14th so it will be a very challenging day for him.

    1. Yep, the season is over

  6. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    17th November 2019, 5:17

    Found it strange that there was so little or no improvement in times from Q2 to Q3, Max was even slower than his Q2 time by 0.005 of a second (Q2 1.07.503 and Q3 1.07.508)

    Ferrari & Mercedes still have a bigger party mode but their times improvement only by max 0.4 second, Albon improved by 0.2 second.

    Gasly, Grosjean, Raikonnen and Magnussen were all also slower by 0.067 – 0.234.

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