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Formula 1 Las Vegas GP

F1 Las Vegas GP: Leclerc beats Sainz, Verstappen to pole position

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc dominated qualifying for Formula 1’s 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix, as he led team-mate Carlos Sainz and world champion Max Verstappen in Q3.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Leclerc led all three segments of qualifying, which featured Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez not making the finale and both McLaren drivers being knocked out in Q1.

In the first two segments, the cars completed multiple runs on the same set of softs to build temperature and gain grip on the slippery, cool and new Vegas track surface, but in Q3 the frontrunners completed typical single-lap efforts.

After Leclerc had established provisional pole with a 1m33.021s first lap in Q3, Sainz was the outlier in trying two warm-up laps for his second go, which meant Leclerc and Verstappen would set their laps ahead of him even as they left the pits late on to try and catch the best of the dramatic track evolution factor here.

But the one-lap efforts did not produce the usual excitement as the tyres did not fire up – as widely expected – with Leclerc able to improve best, being slower than his personal best in sector one, and Verstappen abandoning his second Q3 attempt as he failed to gain any time in the opening two sectors.

Leclerc stayed on it and eventually found enough tyre temperature to improve to a 1m32.726s, which was still barely quicker than he went in Q2.

Sainz’s alternative approach also paid off as he went faster and maintained the second place he had taken on the first Q3 attempts, but he will drop to 12th for the race as a result of his controversial penalty for taking a new battery following his FP1 water valve cover strike.

Behind Verstappen, efforts coming in during Q3’s dying seconds put Pierre Gasly fifth and Williams pair Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant into sixth and seventh – Gasly and Albon unable to dislodge George Russell from fourth after he had completed his final Q3 run just ahead of them.

Valtteri Bottas took eighth ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Fernando Alonso.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

In Q2, which the Ferrari drivers started on used softs before switching to a fresh pair, while Verstappen waited to just complete a later stint on new softs, ended with late improvements for Albon and Gasly which knocked out Hamilton.

These gains also eliminated Perez – the second Red Bull having been wheeled back into its garage with over two minutes of the session remaining and Perez already sitting down in sixth and with just a 0.4s margin to 11th.

Also knocked out in Q2 were Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo.

In Q1, Stroll’s last-gasp improvement knocked out Lando Norris in 16th, ahead of fellow fallers Esteban Ocon, Zhou Guanyu, Oscar Piastri in the other McLaren and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.

Stroll faces a post-qualifying investigation for possibly failing to slow under yellow flags brought out to cover Tsunoda’s Turn 5 off late in Q1, with the Canadian already set to drop five places for the race overtaking under yellows in FP3.

Hamilton, Russell, Albon, Zhou, Gasly and Bottas also have to explain to the stewards why they were clocked going too slowly at stages in Q1 – part of the attempt brought in since Monza to reduce traffic issue in qualifying but has typically always ended with drivers in question only being handed warnings.

F1 Las Vegas GP - qualifying result

 
 
     
Driver Info
 
 
 
   
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Time km/h
1 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari

1'32.726

240.748
2 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull

+0.378

1'33.104

239.770
3 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes

+0.386

1'33.112

239.749
4 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault

+0.513

1'33.239

239.423
5 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes

+0.597

1'33.323

239.207
6 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes

+0.787

1'33.513

238.721
7 Finland V. Bottas Alfa Romeo 77 Alfa Romeo Ferrari

+0.799

1'33.525

238.691
8 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari

+0.811

1'33.537

238.660
9 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes

+0.829

1'33.555

238.614
10 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes

+1.111

1'33.837

237.897
11 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull

+1.129

1'33.855

237.852
12 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari

+0.044

1'32.770

240.633
13 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari

+1.253

1'33.979

237.538
14 Australia D. Ricciardo AlphaTauri 3 AlphaTauri Red Bull

+1.582

1'34.308

236.709
15 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes

+1.977

1'34.703

235.722
16 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault

+2.108

1'34.834

235.396
17 China Z. Guanyu Alfa Romeo 24 Alfa Romeo Ferrari

+2.123

1'34.849

235.359
18 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes

+2.124

1'34.850

235.356
19 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes

+1.473

1'34.199

236.983
20 Japan Y. Tsunoda AlphaTauri 22 AlphaTauri Red Bull

+3.721

1'36.447

231.459

 

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