Race Weekend Central

Max Verstappen Takes Pole Before Rain Cuts Qualifying in Brazil

Reigning Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen took pole for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix right before a monsoon hit the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on Friday (Nov 3).

It is Verstappen’s 31st career pole, and 11th of the season; he is on the hunt for his 17th victory this season.

“We didn’t know when [the rain] would hit in qualifying, we knew it would hit,” Verstappen said in the podium interview. “This is insane weather. I talked to Charles [Leclerc] about it, our laps felt terrible. But the winds started to change and become very strong, we lost a lot of lap time because of it. It was all quite hectic in the last lap.”

“In my whole career, I’ve never experienced something like that,” Leclerc said after qualifying second. “From turn 4 onward, there was no rain. But the car was extremely difficult to drive, no grip. I was thinking in just coming in on our hot lap, but I didn’t and we ended up P2.”

Lance Stroll had his best qualifying effort of the year, scoring third in his Aston Martin before conditions worsened to the point that a red flag was flown before Q3 was officially cut short.

On Saturday evening, George Russell, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were all assessed penalties for impeding other drivers during qualifying, resulting in each of them being set back three places on the starting grid for Sunday’s race.


Oscar Piastri was the last driver out of the pits, and ended up paying for it. The wind and the rain made conditions too slippery in the third sector, making the McLaren rookie go off track in turn 12.

Piastri did not finish his lap but was able to return to the garage undamaged. This was the only incident throughout all of qualifying.

Pos.Car #DriverTeamTime from Leader
1.1VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:10.727
3.18StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes+0.617s
4.14Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes+0.660s
5.44Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.742s
7.4Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes+1.260s
8.55Carlos SainzFerrari+1.262s
9.11Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT+1.594s
10.81PiastriMcLaren MercedesN/A
See also
Bringing the Heat: 2023 Championship Weekend Day 1


All cars except for the Haas duo went out for hot laps immediately, as rain was threatening to come any moment. However, it never did in this round.

Alex Albon initially placed his Williams in position to advance, but had his best time deleted due to a track limits violation. Without enough time to put up another lap, Albon was eliminated in Q2 and will start 15th in Sunday’s race.

Pos.Car #DriverTeamTime from Advancing
11.27Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari+0.172s
12.31OconAlpine Renault+0.187s
1310GaslyAlpine Renault+0.192s
14.20Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari+0.348s
15.23AlbonWilliams Mercedes+0.465s
See also
Romain Grosjean Joins JHR for 2024


This round was delayed by 15 minutes, as the marshals determined there needed to be a bit more clean-up of debris following a support series session. Rain threatened late in the session, but held off until Q2.

Pos.Car #DriverTeamTime from Advancing
16.22Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri Honda RBPT+0.044s
17.3Daniel RicciardoAlphaTauri Honda RBPT+0.050s
18.77Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari+0.162s
19.2Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes+0.242s
20.24Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari+0.482s

2023 F1 Sao Paulo Grand Prix Qualifying Results

Next up for the Brazil Grand Prix weekend will be the Sprint. Lights out for the event, following the Showdown qualifying session to determine its starting order in the morning, will come at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 4th. Coverage will be on ESPN.

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.

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