Verstappen takes top spot in Sprint Shootout in Austin

Ahead of Leclerc and Hamilton


By Franck Drui

21 October 2023 - 20:27
Verstappen takes top spot in Sprint (...)

Max Verstappen will start the Sprint at the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Sprint from the front of the grid after beating Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to top spot by less than a tenth of a second. Lewis Hamilton claimed third place for the 19-lap race with McLaren’s Lando Norris fourth.

Verstappen was to the fore from the start of the session and took top spot in SQ1 with a lap of 1:35.997, ahead of Friday’s race pole winner Leclerc, with Williams’ Alex Albon in third. Ruled out at the end of the opening session were the Haas pair of Nico Hülkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams’ Logan Sargeant.

Verstappen was first out of pit lane at the start of SQ2 and this time on his opening run he crossed the line in 1:35.181. Sergio Pérez, in the second Red Bull RB19, slotted into second place with a lap of 1:35.718, but the gap to his team-mate was too wide and the Mexican was shuffled back to fifth place behind the twin Ferrari’s of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz and the P4 McLaren of Norris.

Verstappen went for a final run at the end of the session and it almost proved his undoing. The Dutchman initially looked on course to go quicker, but as he headed into Turn 9 he got out of shape and spun through 360˚ before regaining control. He trundled back to the pits to see out the last seconds in the garage.

Eliminated at the end of SQ2 were AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, the second Aston of Lance Stroll and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.

After a quiet start to the final session, with the whole field holding fire for the first half of the eight-minutes, Verstappen headed out for a single run on Softs tyres and the champion powered to a lap 1:34.538 that proved to be enough to secure top spot for the afternoon’s Sprint.

Leclerc got closest, six hundredths of a second off Max, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in third ahead of the McLarens of Norris and Oscar Piastri and the second Ferrari of Sainz. That left Pérez with P7 for the 19-lap race, ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell, Williams’ Alex Albon and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.

Pos.DriverTeamSQ1 timeSQ2 timeSQ3 time
01 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:35.997 1:35.181 1:34.538
02 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1:35.999 1:35.386 1:34.593
03 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1:36.393 1:35.887 1:34.607
04 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:36.499 1:35.594 1:34.639
05 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:36.703 1:35.753 1:34.894
06 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF-23 1:36.268 1:35.542 1:34.939
07 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:36.347 1:35.718 1:35.041
08 George Russell Mercedes W14 1:36.281 1:35.847 1:35.199
09 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW45 1:36.230 1:35.947 1:35.366
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault A523 1:36.595 1:35.785 1:35.897
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
11 Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:36.737 1:35.978
12 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:36.365 1:36.087
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A523 1:36.372 1:36.137
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:36.575 1:36.181
15 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:36.554 1:36.182
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
16 Nico Hülkenberg Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:36.749
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:36.922
18 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:36.922
19 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:36.945
20 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes FW45 1:37.186

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