'Brilliant' Verstappen snags second pole at Brazilian Grand Prix

accreditation
Max Verstappen (Getty Images)
Max Verstappen (Getty Images)

Sao Paulo - Max Verstappen secured the second pole position of his career to mark his Red Bull boss Christian Horner's 46th birthday in style on Saturday when he topped the qualifying times for Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.

The 22-year-old Dutchman produced a best lap in one minute and 7.508 seconds to outpace four-time champion Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari in a final flurry while newly-crowned six-time champion Lewis Hamilton settled for third for Mercedes.

Vettel's Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc qualified fourth, but faces a 10-place grid penalty after taking a new engine, ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes and Alex Albon in the second Red Bull.

Pierre Gasly was seventh for Toro Rosso ahead of Haas's Romain Grosjean, Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo and Kevin Magnussen in the second Haas.

"Yes boys, that was really good!" said Verstappen on team radio. "That's the best birthday present - isn't it Christian?"

Horner praised Verstappen for topping the times in all three parts of qualifying with a dazzling display of his speed at the undulating Interlagos circuit. "That was the best birthday present," he said. "You were brilliant in all three sessions."

"The car was really good," said Verstappen. "The track temperature was changing and we had to adjust a little bit for that, but the car was really flying - I'm really happy with pole position.

Vettel said: "I had a bit of a wobble on the exit on my first run, but I think Max improved his time so fair play - it's his pole position. He did it and let's see what happens and what we can do tomorrow."

Hamilton said: "Congratulations to Max. That was a great lap by him. We seemed to be quite competitive in Q3 and then we seemed to lose some ground - or they gained! I think we've been down on power compared to the others, but I have it everything I had.

"My best lap of the session was at the end so it was awesome. This is such a tough race to win - the track is very challenging!"

In dry and warm conditions, Q1 began with the Williams drivers out first in front of an appreciative crowd at the atmospheric Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, many of the noisy and colourful fans having queued to enjoy a session bereft of Brazilian drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg, in what may be his penultimate Grand Prix, squeezed through to Q2 with a last-gasp lap that lifted him to 10th ahead of his Renault team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, but out went Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso, Racing Point's Lance Stroll, both Williams men George Russell and Robert Kubica and McLaren's Carlos Sainz.

Spaniard Sainz was unable to clock a time after pulling in with an engine problem while, up front, Verstappen led the way ahead of Leclerc and Albon. Bottas was fourth, Vettel fifth and Hamilton down in sixth.

Bottas and Hamilton led the way in Q2, the champion going top with 1:08.088 before Leclerc, on mediums, and then Verstappen took over, the Red Bull lapping in 1:07.503 to move half a second clear of the Mercedes men.

Facing an expected 10-place grid penalty for Sunday's race after taking a new engine, Leclerc switched back to softs for his second Q2 run, but will start on the mediums he had used earlier.

Out from Q2, in rapidly falling track temperatures, went Lando Norris of McLaren, the two Renaults of Ricciardo and Hulkenberg, either side of Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi, and Racing Point's Sergio Perez.

On their first flying runs, Verstappen found the pace to beat Vettel by 0.008 seconds for provisional pole ahead of Leclerc, Hamilton and Bottas with Albon sixth.

The top six were separated by three-tenths of a second with Grosjean 1.8 seconds adrift in seventh for Haas.

It was a near-perfect scenario for a closely-fought finale in the final minutes of a tense and dramatic session with Verstappen setting the pace.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
loading... Live
Australia 0
England 147/10
Voting Booth
What are your views on the World Rugby men's Player of the Year nominations for 2021 not including any Springboks?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
It's a disgrace! Both Siya Kolisi AND Eben Etzebeth should have been nominated!
39% - 5640 votes
Siya, at the very least, should have been included after a superb season
7% - 939 votes
Etzebeth has been SA's best player this year and should feel hard done by
21% - 2965 votes
Get over it! Moaning about this just sounds like sour grapes!
33% - 4794 votes
Vote