Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Leclerc pole in Las Vegas, with Sainz within thousandths

He Las Vegas Grand Prix did not have the best start, with some free practice marked by the Sainz incident with a sewer, but qualifying on the new Strip circuit has been pure spectacle. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) took the penultimate pole position of the season, fifth for him in 2023, after an intense session, which has left Carlos only 44 thousandths behindalthough the Madrid native drags ten penalty spots on the grid for the unfortunate accident on Friday.

Fernando Alonso He has reached Q3, but has failed in his last round, so tomorrow he will start ninth. Max Verstappen, who will be looking for his eighteenth victory of the season, has not been as incisive as usual and has placed thirdalthough Sainz’s sanction leaves him second on the grid.

Q1: Double KO of McLaren

With only five brakes, but very strong after long straights, he Las Vegas circuit forces you to squeeze the tires as much as possible in each curve without wasting time on the straight. A circumstance that on the first day favored Ferrari and when push came to shove, qualifying started with clear dominance of Leclerc and Sainz.

(Formula 1 World Cup Classification)

The two Maranello drivers took the lead in Q1 and were the only ones to drop below the barrier of 1.34 (1.33.617 for the Monegasque, with the Spaniard 2 tenths behind). Verstappen, less comfortable than usual, took advantage of the improvement of the track to place provisional third and Fernando Alonso has passed the cut in tenth position.

His teammate Lance Stroll, who has a penalty of five places on the grid after Free Practice 3, has also secured a place in the next round, from which Ocon and Zhou have been left out. Tsunoda and… first surprise, the two McLarens! Norris and Piastri, who a priori started among the pole candidates, have been ruled out at the first opportunity.

Q2: Pérez and Hamilton, out of the fight

Leclerc and Sainz started Q2 with used tires, conservatively, while Alonso did so with new ones. Sainz has marked the first reference on the track (1.33.146) despite the nine laps of their Pirellis, which gave an idea of ​​Ferrari’s superiority in Las Vegas. Alonso has beaten that time to take the lead in his first attempt (1.33.880).

The second round once again showed that Leclerc is the fastest on the ‘Strip’ and that the Monegasque still had a lot of room for improvement (1.32.775). Sainz was half a second behind his teammate and Russell was third. Alonso has passed in fifth place.

(Formula 1 season schedule)

Also in this round there was a coup: Hamilton and Pérez have been left out of the battle for pole, along with Hülkenberg, Stroll and Ricciardo. The seven-time Mercedes champion has been confident in not resorting to new tires and unlike his teammate, the strategy has gone wrong.

Q3:Pole for Leclerc

The final fight for pole has started with unexpected guests, such as Magnussen, Bottas or the two Williams of Albon and the American Sargeant.

Leclerc has maintained the lead in the first attempt (1.33.021) with Sainz, 22 thousandths away, closer than ever and Verstappen in the same tenth. Alonso started fourth on used tires, with a good feeling and ahead of Russell.

The last attack has given the pole to Leclerc, with Sainz at 44 thousandths, although with a penalty of ten places on the grid for his sewer incident. A shame. Verstappen finished third after aborting his decisive lap and Alonso fell to tenth place, although he will start ninth on Sunday due to Sainz’s suspension.


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