Lando Norris showed what was possible in yesterday’s Brazil qualifying, going fastest despite what he described as one of his “worst” F1 laps.
As often happens in shorter circuits, the timing sheets were closely separated at Interlagos. Norris managed to make amends for McLaren’s miscalculation from yesterday, going fastest in the MCL60.
Provided he isn’t awarded a penalty for a failure to follow race directors’ instructions, he will start from P1.
The Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are directly behind, surely eager to take the initiative early on. Based on the limited running so far, McLaren should have strong pace on higher fuel runs. Of course, the Austrian team remains the favourite.
Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo qualified in 6th and 8th, respectively, an impressive recovery for AlphaTauri after Friday. Ricciardo insisted there was more pace in the AT04 after yesterday’s session – and today seems quite concrete proof.
Just ahead were the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell – whose top speed was their Achilles heel. Still, they are well-placed to pick up important points and extend their gap to Ferrari in the standings. The SF-23 failed to execute in the Sprint shootout – partially compromised by a lack of new soft tyres.
Haas performed at their typical level during low-fuel runs. They lacked the pace to fight at the front – but still managed to bother the front-runners. Ignoring the results of their rivals, AlphaTauri, the American outfit can be pleased with their performance. Every session that remains in 2023 will be crucial for the team’s progression for their 2024 concept.
The contact between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon was one of the biggest talking points from the session. Ocon lost his A523 in the S-section, which resulted in contact with Alonso’s AMR23 – which was out of the way. Both drivers were eliminated as a result of this contact, though the Spaniard will surely be the more frustrated – given Aston’s pace.
A handful of drivers, including Lando Norris, face penalisation for failing to follow race directors’ instructions. However, based on recent precedent, all should avoid anything more than a reprimand.