Brazil GP sprint qualifying: Hamilton back on top in Brazil

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man on track in Brazil on Friday afternoon after a blistering lap to put his car on pole for the sprint race. A fresh engine on the back of his Mercedes, combined with the flair of the 7-time world champion, meant that the British driver beat his competition by a whopping four tenths of a second. This lap might become highly significant in the course of the championship battle as it shows Mercedes are not going to give up easily in the remaining races.

Hamilton’s main challenger Max Verstappen is ready to start the sprint race from P2 on the grid with the Dutchman admitting that Mercedes were faster than Red Bull and that he was happy to be second. The one thing that Red Bull will be looking forward to in the sprint race is that even if Max Verstappen finishes where he starts and Hamilton beats him, he would be on the pole for the main race as Lewis Hamilton has a five-place grid penalty owing to an engine change.

Hamilton will start five places back from his sprint finishing position due to an ICE change – Courtesy of Mercedes F1 Media

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas is set to start from a handy third place for the sprint race on Saturday. The Finnish driver will be looking to put behind the misery of Mexico and hope for a strong weekend this time around, and the podium hero from Mexico Sergio Perez will be staring alongside him from P4 in the second Red Bull.

Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri continued his stellar form on Friday as he put in a lap which was good enough for him to start the sprint race from P5. The Frenchman is just ahead of the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclrec in P6 and P7 respectively for the Saturday sprint and will be looking to stay there come race day. His teammate Yuki Tsunoda in the other AlphaTauri could only manage a lap good enough for P13 and will be looking to make up places in the sprint race.

McLaren will be looking to make up ground in the sprint race with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo starting at P8 and P9 and crucially behind the Ferraris. As a result, they are already on the back foot for the weekend in their bid to trump the Italian team for third place in the constructors championship.

A positive day for Ferrari means that they will start tomorrow’s sprint ahead of both McLarens – Courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari Press

Fernando Alonso of Alpine will complete the top 10 grid spots for the sprint race tomorrow after his lap in Q2 was good enough for him to just to get into Q3.  Esteban Ocon will be starting the sprint race on P11 from the grid and will be looking to make inroads into the top 10 spots on the grid for the main race on Sunday.

Aston Martin had a  Friday qualifying to forget after Lance Stroll got knocked out of Q1 and the same befell Sebastian Vettel in Q2. They will be starting P16 and P12 respectively and will be hoping for a better Saturday than a Friday. Both the Alfa Romeo cars have got out of Q1 on Friday and will be starting with Kimi Raikkonen P14 and Antonio Giovinazzi P15 respectively. It seems that Alfa Romeo will be playing a bigger role off track during the final days of the season as they are set to announce Bottas’ partner for the next season soon.

George Russell in the Williams was finally beaten by teammate Nicholas Latifi in the knockout format qualifying but it is not all lost for the Briton as he could still pass his teammate and maintain his 100% record vs him in qualifying.  The Williams will line up with Latifi at P17 and Russell at P18 respectively. Both the Haas cars will be starting with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin on the last row of the grid.

With the title fight reaching its climax, every point is set to make a difference from here on. The sprint race is going to be important in this context as the winner is set to get 3 points from it while the 2nd place gets awarded 2 points. With Hamilton and Verstappen starting first and second, this could prove to be important with any points advantage that one could rake up on the other. A short version of what racing in Brazil would be like is set to be the feature tomorrow as fan favorite track Interlagos returns to the calendar after last year’s absence.

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