Max qualifies third for Las Vegas Grand Prix: 'We have maximized today'
Published on 18 November 2023 by Misha van der Kroon
Max Verstappen finished third in the qualifying session for the Las Vegas Grand Prix. In the streets of Las Vegas, only the Ferraris were faster than Max. Charles Leclerc was the fastest, ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz. Sergio Perez, Max’s teammate at Oracle Red Bull Racing qualified in P12.
“It was enjoyable out there,” Max says after the session. “I think we maximized today. The whole weekend so far we have been lacking a bit of one-lap performance, and that was quite clear in qualifying. I hope that tomorrow in the race we’ll be good on the tyres again and can work our way forward.”
Max is confident about the race, but also knows that there are many uncertainties. “The car felt good yesterday. Of course I had hoped for a little bit more pace today, but we know that the points are scored tomorrow. It will be a tough race, the first one here. There might be some safety cars and it’s of course a very long straight where a lot of racing will happen.”
At the start of Q1, most drivers leave their garage immediately and take to the track. Many drivers were unable to do some good qualifying laps in FP3, due to a red flag caused by Alexander Albon late in that session. As a result, there are still many open questions about the actual qualifying speed of the teams on this new circuit. In any case, the Ferraris seem fast, which is proven by Leclerc in his first run in Q1 as he clocks the fastest time. In his first run, Max clocks the second fastest time of just one tenth behind the Monegasque. And surprisingly Logan Sargeant sets the third fastest time on the clock.
After these first runs, many drivers stay out on track to build up more temperature in their tyres, which is definitely necessary as it’s only 15 degrees. Verstappen also stays out, and that decision pays off when his second run is eight tenths faster than his previous clocked time.
At the end of Q1, Leclerc is on top of the timesheets, followed by Carlos Sainz and George Russell. Verstappen ends Q1 in fourth, more than half a second behind Leclerc. The drivers knocked out in this part of qualifying are Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Guanyu Zhou, Oscar Piastri and Yuki Tsunoda.
At the start of Q2, many drivers again go out immediately, but Verstappen decides to wait. He takes to the track after more than six minutes, when the majority of the drivers has already set a lap time. Fernando Alonso is the fastest halfway through the session, just ahead of Perez, Leclerc and Sainz. In his first flying lap, Max immediately shows that he is fast. He sets the fastest time, but is pushed back to third shortly after, when Leclerc and Sainz take P1 and P2.
The track is getting better and faster by the end of Q2, and Perez falls victim to that. With three minutes on the clock, the Mexican drives into the pitlane where he stays until the end of the session. Many drivers improve their times, knocking out Perez, who will have to start the race from P12. Also knocked out in this part of qualifying are Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo. At the top of the timesheets we find Leclerc, Sainz and Russell. Max is in P5, more than seven tenths behind Leclerc.
In Q3 the real fight for pole position starts, and the Ferraris are immediately fast. Leclerc sets the fastest time, followed closely by Sainz and Verstappen. The top three are within 0.083 seconds of each other. Max pushes his car to the limits, and almost hits a wall when exiting a corner. “That was close,” the three-time World Champion calls over the radio to his team.
Everybody prepares for the final runs in Q3. The Ferraris have put a new set of soft tyres on their cars, Verstappen did not. The Dutchman unfortunately is not able to improve his time and remains in third place. Leclerc and Sainz improve their time, securing their first and second places. However, the Spaniard received a ten-place grid penalty after FP1, so he will have to start the race from the mid-field.
During the Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend, Max will sport a special helmet design. His RB19 features a Las Vegas inspired livery. You can pre-order the scale models for both helmets and cars on Verstappen.com.
|3||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:34.190||1:33.572||1:33.104|
|5||Pierre Gasly||GAS||Alpine Renault||1:34.272||1:33.494||1:33.239|
|6||Alexander Albon||ALB||Williams Mercedes||1:34.634||1:33.588||1:33.323|
|7||Logan Sargeant||SAR||Williams Mercedes||1:34.525||1:33.733||1:33.513|
|8||Valtteri Bottas||BOT||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:34.305||1:33.809||1:33.525|
|9||Kevin Magnussen||MAG||Haas Ferrari||1:34.337||1:33.664||1:33.537|
|10||Fernando Alonso||ALO||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:34.422||1:33.617||1:33.555|
|12||Sergio Perez||PER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:34.574||1:33.855|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||HUL||Haas Ferrari||1:34.265||1:33.979|
|14||Lance Stroll||STR||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:34.504||1:34.199|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||RIC||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:34.683||1:34.308|
|16||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Mercedes||1:34.703|
|17||Esteban Ocon||OCO||Alpine Renault||1:34.834|
|18||Zhou Guanyu||ZHO||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:34.849|
|19||Oscar Piastri||PIA||McLaren Mercedes||1:34.850|
|20||Yuki Tsunoda||TSU||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:36.447|