Red Bull suffered a rare defeat on Friday. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez finished only sixth and ninth in qualifying for the main race. By Red Bull standards, this is a disaster. The answer came after only one day. This time Verstappen did not conflict with the track limits either. It may also be because the FIA, after consultation with drivers and teams, widened the white line of the track boundaries at turns 9, 12 and 19. This gives pilots more space.
For the world champion, the clock stopped in the final penalty shootout attempt, after a time of 1:34.538 minutes. That was enough for first place. His teammate Perez finished seventh, half a second behind. The Mexican is once again struggling with the balance of his car this weekend. To his credit, he no longer had a new set of soft tires available for the mini-qualifying finals. This explains part of the gap.
Verstappen spins without consequences
Offers Red Bull Melts. That led to a defeat on Friday and a narrow victory in the Sprint Shootout on Saturday. The second round showed that Verstappen had to push himself to the limit. There the world champion spun on his axis in turn nine. It was a turnaround for the show without any negative consequences.
Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren were hot on the heels of the class leader. In the end, the top four were only separated by a tenth of a second. Charles Leclerc missed his second pole of the weekend by just 55k. Things continue to go well for Ferrari, at least on one side of the garage. The starting position is good for both a sprint and a main race.
Carlos Sainz continues to falter. His tires warmed up, especially in the final section. As in qualifying on Friday, the Spaniard also found himself trailing in the Sprint Shootout. He lost three-tenths and a half of a second to Leclerc. This makes up four locations on the starting grid. Sainz starts the 19-lap race in sixth place.
Mercedes and McLaren are close
Mercedes had a tough time with the medium tires required for the SQ1 and SQ2. However, on soft tires, the silver-black arrow begins to fly. Lewis Hamilton came close to the pole with a 69k lead. As happened on Friday, that was enough for a strong third place finish.
Teammate George Russell finds fast laps more difficult. He ranked eighth. His problem: Like Perez, he didn’t have a new set of C4 tires, and only used sets. Above all, he is threatened with problems. In the first part, Russell confronted Ferrari Leclerc in the penultimate corner. It smelled like net punishment. I met Russell between qualifying and the sprint: the stewards allowed him to move back to three starting positions.
Lando Norris once again stepped in to award first place. But this time, the English driver had to settle for fourth place on the grid. The polar time was just 0.101 seconds away. His stable rival Oscar Piastri improved. The result was fifth place in the Sprint Shootout. Alexander Albon (9th) and Pierre Gasly (10th) arrived in SQ3.
Aston Martin is out of shape
Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest AlphaTauri driver in mini-qualifying. The Australian improved on the second day of his return and moved up to eleventh place. Confidence grows, and the rhythm slowly returns. It was almost enough to get a place in SQ3. To achieve this, Ricciardo had to be three hundredths faster.
Heads hanging in Aston Martin. The new parts brought to the United States actually promise progress in all aspects. But with limited training time, engineers and drivers are unable to implement it on the race track. At least Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll didn’t fail at the first hurdle like they did on Friday. 12th and 14th place are still disappointing. There is a risk of losing fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship to McLaren.
Alpine lost a car in SQ2. The car hit Esteban Ocon, who once again lost out to his neighbor Gasly in the garage. Guanyu Zhou completed the list of drivers eliminated in the second qualifying segment. As a small consolation, the Chinese achieved his second qualifying victory this weekend over his teammate.
Haas was eliminated in SQ1
The home game still didn’t go according to plan for Haas. Despite the extensive upgrade. The car behaves as expected. There were no bad surprises. But there is a lack of speed on the Circuit of the Americas. Yesterday, Friday, at least one American car jumped into the second quarter. A day later it was over after the first round.
It was very close. Nico Hulkenberg (16th) missed out on promotion by twelve thousandths. Teammate Kevin Magnussen starts the sprint one place behind him. The next Ferrari customer car follows, this time in the form of an Alfa Romeo. Valtteri Bottas (18th), who was a thousand quicker than second-placed Haas driver Magnussen, trails teammate Zhou this weekend. Finn complained over the radio that the car was jumping too much and not having enough grip. The veteran can’t settle for 18th place. The final row in the race is Yuki Tsunoda and Logan Sargeant.
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