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Max second after sprint shootout in Brazil: 'Always tough to risk it all'

Published on 04 November 2023 by Florence Cobben

Max Verstappen will start the sprint in Brazil from second place. Lando Norris was six hundredths faster than the Dutchman. On the ever-improving Autódromo José Carlos Pace track, the drivers who made it through to SQ3 had to wait until the very last moment to set a fast lap. Sergio Pérez took to the track quickly but eventually settled for third place. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton completed São Paulo’s top five.

“I think in my last lap, sector one and sector two, I was just not really on it”, Max explains after the shootout. “A mistake in turn two… lost the rear. And then, in turn four, just too slow. So it’s always a bit tough when you have that one tyre set. To risk it all… of course, you might get a reward if you risk it all, today I think I was a bit under it.” 

On driving out of the pitlane for his last run, Max overtook several drivers to create a clear lane for himself. When asked, he explains: “It’s the new rule. If you’re driving slowly you have to stay on the left, I wanted to go quick so I tried to pass a lot of cars.”

After the heavy storm that assailed the track yesterday, peace had returned to the Autódromo José Carlos Pace. It is 24 degrees with a track temperature of 45 degrees. Max opens the sixth and final SQ1 of this season with a 1:11.888. Both Hamilton and Sainz improve on his time: Verstappen is seven hundredths slower than the Ferrari in first position. Norris manages to claim a spot in between the drivers and moves to second place. With half a minute to go, Esteban Ocon prompts a red flag. The Frenchman hit Fernando Alonso and landed in the wall. Alonso drives back into the pits with significant damage. SQ1 ends without allowing the drivers back onto the track, resulting in Logan Sargeant, Alexander Albon, Zhou Guanyu, Lance Stroll, and Ocon dropping out of qualifying. Sainz, Norris, Hamilton, Verstappen and Russell are the fastest five.

In addition to the bottom five, Alonso will also not appear in SQ2 - the damage to his car from the collision with Ocon is too severe to repair in time. The incident between the Spaniard and Ocon is still under investigation after the shootout. Max starts this second part of the sprint shootout by setting a 1:11.449. Sainz pushes hard and places his Ferrari between Max and Pérez’ Red Bulls. Charles Leclerc follows in fourth place. In the final moments of SQ2, the track improves and Pérez and Norris set faster times than Max. Norris tops the timesheets with a 1:11.221, while Pérez takes second place. Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, and Leclerc complete the top five. The shootout ends early for Alonso, Valtteri Bottas, Pierre Gasly, Nico Hülkenberg and Kevin Magnussen.

In SQ3, the strategy is the waiting game. Because the track keeps improving over time, the drivers want to get out as late as possible. With less than four minutes to go, we see the first cars appear on the track. Verstappen overtakes several drivers as he exits the pits to create a clear lane for himself. Piastri and Norris cross the line first. Norris is fastest with a 1:10.622. Max is not quite as speedy and has to settle for second place, six hundredths slower than Norris. Pérez takes third, despite a very good first sector. No one can match Norris' time, giving the Briton pole position for the sprint race. Max starts next to him, while the second row is represented by Pérez and Russell. Hamilton and Yuki Tsunoda complete the top six. Norris and Tsunoda will have to report to the stewards after the session because their out-lap was too slow.

Contest Brazilian GP: win a by Max Verstappen signed Red Bull Racing Driver Cap 2023! 

Results sprint shootout Brazil:

1Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:11.8241:11.2211:10.622
2Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:11.8881:11.2621:10.683
3Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:12.2181:11.2301:10.756
4George RussellRUSMercedes1:11.9761:11.5161:10.857
5Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:11.8701:11.4761:10.940
6Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:12.3581:11.6761:11.019
7Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:12.1071:11.4731:11.077
8Daniel RicciardoRICAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:12.1751:11.4231:11.122
9Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:11.7961:11.4911:11.126
10Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:12.3561:11.6481:11.189
11Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:12.0581:11.727
12Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:12.1361:11.752
13Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:12.2291:11.822
14Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:12.3031:11.872
15Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:12.224
16Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:12.388
17Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:12.482
18Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:12.497
19Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:12.525
20Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:12.615