Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton initially claimed pole position for 2021 Sao Paulo Sprint Qualifying with a dominant performance in regular Qualifying, only to be disqualified for a technical infringement.
Following pre-race weekend drama of delayed freight which led to all teams receiving an one-off curfew waiver on Thursday evening to build their cars ahead of FP1, it was Hamilton who proceeded to dominate Friday’s action across Practice and Qualifying.
Title rival, Max Verstappen meanwhile qualified second quickest ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez, although Hamilton ultimately was disqualified post-session for a rear wing infringement whilst Verstappen got a £42.6K fine for touching Hamilton’s rear wing under parc ferme conditions.
Now here is a full roundup of Friday’s action at Interlagos across Practice and Qualifying.
With overcast weather conditions lingering across Interlagos, several drivers were straight out on track with Verstappen setting the initial pace as numerous teams focused on long run simulations in terms of flying laps in-between cooldown laps in the opening twenty minutes.
Verstappen consequently found himself top on 1m 10.189 come the halfway point of session ahead of Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez who was quicker than Hamilton as the Brit struggled with a “bouncing” front end of his Mercedes.
Drizzle briefly affected the session after the opening 20 minutes but failed to make any impact on track surface, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc going second behind Verstappen just after the half-hour mark but 0.005s slower than the Dutchman,
Verstappen responded on the soft tyres with 1m 09.417 ahead of Perez as Hamilton went third on his first soft tyre flier, only to find further time on his next lap to post 1m 09.348 to go top which was further lowered to a session-topping 1m 09.050 ahead of Verstappen and Perez.
Bottas was fourth quickest ahead of Pierre Gasly in fifth, as Carlos Sainz, Leclerc and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top eight with the trip split by just 0.021s whilst Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten.
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1m 09.050|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.367|
|3||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 0.442|
|4||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 0.517|
|5||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 0.830|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 1.074|
|7||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 1.092|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 1.095|
|9||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 1.151|
|10||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 1.302|
|11||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 1.324|
|12||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 1.363|
|13||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.393|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.537|
|15||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.560|
|16||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 1.835|
|17||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 1.852|
|18||George Russell||Williams||+ 1.888|
|19||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 1.940|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 2.292|
Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were first out on track with the latter setting the initial benchmark of 1m 10.780 on used softs for a banker lap, purely in fear of rain which was forecast at 40% chance.
His time was however quickly bettered with Hamilton going top upon completion of first runs before setting a Q1 topping time of 1m 08.733.
Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Leclerc, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin meanwhile were in the elimination zone once opening laps were completed, although Raikkonen quickly climbed out of the bottom five at George Russell’s expense as Schumacher and Mazepin improved to sandwich Giovinazzi.
Ultimately once the checkered flag fell, only Giovinazzi escaped elimination in Q1 whilst both Aston Martin cars of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll flirted with the drop but Stroll eventually was knocked out by Ocon.
Russell meanwhile suffered his first-ever traditional qualifying head-to-head defeat by a Williams teammate as he found himself outqualified by Nicholas Latifi by just 0.056s in 18th as both drivers finished ahead of Haas’ Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
Nobody opted to head out in the opening three minutes of Q2 until Hamilton was first driver to venture out on track, with several drivers quickly following suit.
Hamilton proceeded to set the initial benchmark of 1m 08.659 but his lap was swiftly deleted for exceeding track limits as Verstappen went top with 1m 08.567 with the Brit left bottom of the order behind; Yuki Tsunoda, Vettel, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi.
On his next flier, Hamilton was however able to find more time as he moved top with 1m 08.386 which consequently dropped Ocon into the elimination zone in 11th place.
Once the checkered flag fell, none of the top five could escape elimination as Ocon qualified 11th for the Sprint Qualifying Race ahead of Vettel who found time to demote Tsunoda to 13th whilst Raikkonen outqualified Alfa Romeo teammate – Giovinazzi.
Hamilton meanwhile improved further on his final flier to top Q2 with 1m 08.068 ahead of Bottas and Verstappen.
Nobody opted to head out in the opening two minutes until Leclerc headed out first on track three minutes into Q3.
Leclerc went on to set the initial benchmark time of 1m 09.403 but his time was quickly bettered by everyone else, as Hamilton posted 1m 08.107 to put himself on provisional pole ahead of Verstappen, Bottas, Perez and Gasly.
As the checkered flag waved, few drivers found time as Hamilton clinched pole for Sprint Qualifying with 1m 07.934 as Verstappen and Bottas failed to improve ahead of Perez, Gasly, Sainz, Leclerc, Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo and Alonso.
Controversy however reigned for 21 hours following the conclusion of Qualifying as Hamilton’s DRS failed a test of maximum 85mm measurement of ‘uppermost rear wing’, which consequently meant a breach of Article 3.6.3 and disqualification despite stewards accepting that the failure was ‘unique’.
Verstappen meanwhile was slapped with a £42,681.15 fine after he was caught touching Hamilton’s rear wing under parc ferme, which coincidentally was the part under investigation, although stewards noted that “insignificant force” used in the touch despite “significant potential to cause harm.”
|DSQ*||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1m 07.934|
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.438|
|2||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 0.535|
|3||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 0.549|
|4||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 0.843|
|5||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 0.892|
|6||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 1.026|
|7||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.046|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 1.105|
|9||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 1.179|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||1m 09.189|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 0.210|
|12||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 0.294|
|13||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.314|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.038|
|15||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1m 09.663|
|16||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 0.234|
|17||George Russell||Williams||+ 0.290|
|18||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 0.666|
|19||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 0.926|
*Hamilton was disqualified post-session after his rear wing was adjudged illegal following a failure to meet test of maximum 85mm measurement when open.