Winners and losers from qualifying for the United States GP

Henry Valantine
Carlos Sainz salutes the crowd. United States GP October 2022.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz waves to the crowd after taking pole position. United States October 2022.

The United States GP threw up an entertaining qualifying session, though it came under a mournful cloud just a matter of minutes after the death of Red Bull co-founder and owner Dietrich Mateschitz was announced.

All of Red Bull’s staff members were pulled into their team’s motorhome to be informed of the news ahead of the qualifying session, but there was not long before the cars would head out on track at the Circuit of The Americas.

Formula 1 pressed on and a grid was formed for the race, so here is who caught our attention for better or worse…


Carlos Sainz

Put simply, on-board footage of Sainz’s pole lap looked next to flawless in Austin, the Smooth Operator living up to his nickname in taming the bumpy COTA track surface.

He looked on form from the start in qualifying, taking an extra lap to warm his tyres and subsequently going half a second faster than everyone else in Q1.

The fight with Red Bull was a tight one throughout in Q3, but Sainz was able to eke out the extra hundredths he needed to beat Charles Leclerc fair and square – despite the fact his team-mate will be dropping 10 places for the race on Sunday.

He converted his pole at Silverstone into his first Formula 1 victory, so a repeat of that on Sunday will be most welcome for Sainz as he looks to reel in some of his 50-point deficit to Leclerc.

Red Bull and AlphaTauri

Less than an hour after the whole team was gathered to be informed of the death of Red Bull co-founder and owner Dietrich Mateschitz aged 78, Red Bull and AlphaTauri had to get straight back to business for qualifying.

This in itself will have been a tough task after news which will have rocked both teams, with the entrepreneur whom Christian Horner described as their “backbone” having been behind their entire involvement in the sport.

Mateschitz himself will have wanted the team to go about their business as usual and, even though he had been suffering from a long-term illness, for both teams to get back to work immediately and perform is testament to everyone involved at both Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

They were not the team’s best results on track in qualifying this season by any means, but Max Verstappen will be more than motivated from the front row to honour Mateschitz with another win on Sunday.

Lance Stroll

Stroll took on the tag of ‘best of the rest’ as he qualified a season-best seventh on Saturday, and with penalties for Leclerc and Sergio Perez he will be promoted to P5 for lights out on Sunday.

The Aston Martin driver looked assured in free practice and took that form through into qualifying, putting his AMR22 in the right places and clocking an excellent lap in Q3 to be in the mix at the start.

Given that Aston Martin now have sixth in the Constructors’ standings very much in their sights after a recent upturn in form, now just seven points behind Alfa Romeo, holding onto a strong points haul is no longer a pipe dream for Stroll and Aston.


Even though Mercedes’ pace in practice and the early part of qualifying threatened them being even closer to the front, they can still take heart from a stronger performance nonetheless.

Lewis Hamilton will have been left disappointed after his final lap following a slower first sector, but the Leclerc and Perez penalties will see both Mercedes cars start on the front two rows for the first time this season.

An honourable mention to round off as well to Williams driver Alex Albon, who will move up to the fourth row once penalties are applied in another strong session for him.



Both Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher dropped out in Q1 and, with practice problems that hampered both cars, they did not come into the session in the best shape.

Antonio Giovinazzi’s trip into the barrier in FP1 forced a gearbox change on Magnussen’s car, while an issue with the #47 of Schumacher in FP3 heavily limited his running.

Their chances were far from optimal before the session started and, despite Magnussen’s hopes that track limits could come into play and delete lap times from quicker drivers to put him back in play, his optimism was in vain.

Schumacher completed his session with a spin on the exit of Turn 1. His is now the only ‘free’ seat remaining for 2023, and he admitted to German media after the session that Q2 should have been possible in his Haas – possibly even Q3.

But while his driving is under the microscope, the team have been far from perfect themselves lately. He should not hold blame fully on his shoulders.

Esteban Ocon

It was an off-colour session from Ocon, who did not make the most of his Alpine’s pace as he failed to get out of Q1.

He admitted he “didn’t feel at ease” in qualifying, and hasn’t done so all weekend so far at the Circuit of The Americas.

The Frenchman said it was “difficult to digest” to be out on media duties so soon while Fernando Alonso made it through to Q3, though he has questions to answer overnight to see if he can climb back into the points on Sunday.

Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo’s entrance on horseback raised eyebrows and smiles as he arrived at his beloved Austin ahead of the weekend, but that has been the peak of his time so far.

Another Q1 exit – his third in the past five races – compounds another tough time as he edges towards the exit door from the 2023 grid, with a reserve role reportedly close to being agreed.

Oversteer was his particular nemesis at Austin on Saturday, and he sounded more downbeat than usual as he was another to mourn the loss of Red Bull owner Mateschitz, Ricciardo saying he owes a large part of his own Formula 1 career to the Austrian.

Pierre Gasly

Tell us how you really feel, Pierre…

With his AlphaTauri having struggled in heavy braking zones in qualifying, Gasly made his feelings known in no uncertain terms over team radio, and despite “trying his best”, peak performance was not quite there for him on Saturday, ending his session in Q2.

A pretty bad day all round for next season’s Alpine pair.

Read more: Christian Horner pays tribute to Dietrich Mateschitz, the ‘backbone’ of Red Bull