Piastri takes top spot in Qatar Sprint Shootout
Ahead of Lando Norris and Max Verstappen
Oscar Piastri took top spot in the Sprint Shootout the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix, beating team-mate Lando Norris by eight hundredths of a second as championship leader Maxc Verstappen had his first lap of SQ3 deleted and then could only reach third place behind the McLarens.
At the start of SQ1 Norris established the early target at 1:26.464. That time was soon eclipsed by Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and by Mercedes’ George Russell who took P1 with a lap of 1:26.359.
Verstappen was a on a good lap, however, and after going quickest in the first and last sectors, he took P1 with a lap of 1:25.510, 0.849 clear of Russell.
The Dutch driver then retreated to the garage and in the final runs Russell took top spot, just under a tenth ahead of the Red Bull driver. Norris finished third ahead of Gasly and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Out at the end of the opening session were Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, Williams’ Alex Albon, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and the second Williams of Logan Sargeant.
At the start of SQ2, Verstappen was again to the fore and he set the benchmark at 1:25.199. However, the Dutchman was edged out of P1 by Norris who dipped below the 1m25s mark by 0.053s. Piastri then slotted into third place ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Both Verstappen and Norris opted to sit out the final laps, and while Norris held onto top spot, Russell snuck through to claim P2 ahead of Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Pérez who claimed third with his final flyer.
The major casualty of SQ2, however, was Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. Struggling at the edge of the top 10, the Briton had a slow final flyer deleted and when Sainz took P7, Hamilton slid towards the exit, eventually qualifying in P12, behind Gasly. Also eliminated behind Hamilton were Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, AlphaTauri’s Liam Lawson and the second Alfa Romeo of Zhou Guanyu.
At the start of SQ3, Verstappen was first out on track and he stopped the clock at 1:24.543. However, his lap was quickly deleted for going over track limits at Turn 5 and when Norris took P1 with a lap of 1:24.536, 0.007s ahead of the Dutchman’s deleted lap, the pressure was on. In the end the task was too much. Verstappen was quicker over the first sector of his final flyer but as the lap developed his advantage slipped away and he crossed the line in 1:24.646, a tenth off his deleted opener.
It was Piastri who seized the opportunity and he took P1 in the very last moments, little under a tenth of his team-mate as Norris slid wide at the final corner. Verstappen was left with P3 on the grid for the Sprint, ahead of Russell, Sainz and Leclerc, while Nico Hülkenberg was seventh for Haas. That left Checo with eighth place for Saturday night’s 19-lap race ahead of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
|Pos.||Driver||Team||SQ1 time||SQ2 time||SQ3 time|
|01||Oscar Piastri||McLaren Mercedes MCL60||1:25.979||1:25.496||1:24.454|
|02||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes MCL60||1:25.672||1:24.947||1:24.536|
|03||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19||1:25.510||1:25.199||1:24.646|
|04||George Russell||Mercedes W14||1:25.413||1:25.027||1:24.841|
|05||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari SF-23||1:25.872||1:25.433||1:25.155|
|06||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF-23||1:26.266||1:25.367||1:25.247|
|07||Nico Hülkenberg||Haas Ferrari VF-23||1:26.450||1:25.499||1:25.320|
|08||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19||1:26.123||1:25.143||1:25.382|
|09||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23||1:25.936||1:25.344||-:—.---|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A523||1:26.072||1:25.510||-:—.---|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault A523||1:25.829||1:25.866|
|12||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W14||1:26.424||1:25.962|
|13||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43||1:26.449||1:26.236|
|14||Liam Lawson||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04||1:26.202||1:26.584|
|15||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43||1:26.669||1:54.546|
|16||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23||1:26.849|
|17||Alex Albon||Williams Mercedes FW45||1:26.862|
|18||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04||1:26.926|
|19||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-23||1:27.438|
|20||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes FW45||2:05.741|