Carlos Sainz took full advantage of Red Bull’s struggles to take his second consecutive pole position, whilst Verstappen was 11th fastest on pure pace.
There were a number of instances of potential impeding throughout Q1. Lance Stroll felt he had been held up on his first run by Logan Sargeant, whilst Max Verstappen appeared to hold others up in the pit lane as he waited for a gap to open up to begin his outlap. There were also many cars all jostling for track position towards the end of Q1. No one would end up being penalised for any potential impeding, though Sargeant and Verstappen were reprimanded for their incidents.
The track was improving rapidly towards the end of Q1, which saw Tsunoda end the session in P1. However, this was partly helped by Stroll having a major crash at the last turn of the lap, which ruined the chances of anyone behind him to improve. Fortunately, he was able to get out of the car unaided, though the incident did mean that Oscar Piastri found himself being a shock elimination in Q1.
16. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo +0.141
17. Oscar Piastri– McLaren +0.234
18. Logan Sargeant – Williams +0.584
19. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo +0.590
20. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin +0.729
Clearing the track had taken a while, and qualifying would resume about half an hour later. Once things got underway, Max Verstappen found himself in another impeding incident, this time with Yuki Tsunoda, and had once again been given a reprimand by the stewards.
Both Red Bull drivers had been struggling since the start of FP1, and this form had continued into qualifying. It appeared to keep slipping out on the rear, with neither driver being able to tame it. This meant that on their final runs in Q2, Perez had spun his car around, whilst Verstappen squirreled his way around the track to initially only go 10th fastest. Moments later, Liam Lawson went faster in only his third ever F1 race to reach his first Q3, demoting Verstappen to 11th. This is the first time neither Red Bull car has reached Q3 since 2018.
11. Max Verstappen – Red Bull +0.007
12. Pierre Gasly – Alpine +0.108
13. Sergio Perez – Red Bull +0.144
14. Alex Albon – Williams +0.981
15. Yuki Tsunoda – Alpha Tauri NO TIME
With the Red Bulls gone, the fight for pole position became wide open. Ferrari had strong pace all weekend long, and Sainz had taken the early advantage by going fastest in his first run, with his teammate provisionally locking out the front row.
Just as it had done all throughout qualifying, the track’s grip continued to improve. Sainz managed to go fastest of anybody in sector 1, though didn’t put in the best sector 2. Whilst this was happening, Norris was generally improving, though did not look like he was going to go pole unless he put in a perfect final sector. Leclerc had gone fastest in sector 2, and there wasn’t much to separate the two Ferraris, though it would be Carlos Sainz who prevailed with a slightly superior sector 3 to Leclerc, taking pole position.
It had been a Ferrari 1-2 for a moment, until Russell managed to make his way onto the front row, going just 7 thousandths quicker than Leclerc, having gained over 7 tenths from his first run.
The mixed up order provides an interesting preview for tomorrow’s race, which could see the first non-Red Bull win of the season, and break Verstappen’s 10 race win streak.
1. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari 1:30.984
2. George Russell – Mercedes +0.072
3. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari +0.079
4. Lando Norris – McLaren +0.286
5. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes +0.501
6. Kevin Magnussen – Haas +0.591
7. Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin +0.631
8. Esteban Ocon – Alpine +0.689
9. Nico Hulkenberg – Haas +0.824
10. Liam Lawson – Alpha Tauri +1.284