Oscar Piastri overhauled his team-mate Lando Norris with a last-gasp effort to grab pole position in Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying in Qatar.
In a Sprint Qualifying in which lap times were deleted left, right, and centre, Piastri kept it within the white line when it mattered to grab a first-ever pole position.
His team-mate Lando Norris made it a McLaren 1-2 ahead of Max Verstappen, the Woking team bouncing back from Friday’s disappointment where both drivers lost lap times.
Track limit violations dominate proceedings in Sprint Qualifying
After Saturday’s 10-minute familiarisation session, everyone covering five or so laps, Sprint Qualifying began with the Ferrari team-mates leading out the field with everyone on the medium tyres.
Charles Leclerc set the early pace with a 1:26.9 while Nico Hulkenberg, Logan Sargeant, and Pierre Gasly found themselves without times on the board after they were deleted for exceeding track limits.
Two of those violations came at Turn 13, one of the corners reprofiled overnight to keep the drivers away from the harsh pyramid kerbs.
Back at the front, Max Verstappen hit the front with a 1:25.5, 0.162s up on Lando Norris. Leclerc, Lance Stroll, Lewis Hamilton, Sargeant, Nico Hulkenberg, and joined the list of those losing times for track limit violations.
As SQ1 played out, George Russell was P1 with a 1:25.4 while out went Stroll, Alex Albon, Yuki Tsunoda, Kevin Magnussen, and Sargeant. Tsunoda and Sargeant had their final lap times deleted, putting them out of qualifying.
Into SQ2 and again on the medium Pirellis, the Mercedes team-mates were the first to make their mark with Hamilton up on Russell with a 1:26.2. Their 1-2 was short-lived with Norris hitting the front with a 1:24.9.
Hamilton lost his lap time for exceeding track limits at Turn 13, Leclerc followed suit as the Ferrari driver again ran wide at Turn 5, Zhou joined the list as too did Carlos Sainz. That dropped him into the bottom five but he was able to rebound with a P6.
The same could not be said of Hamilton, the Mercedes driver’s second deleted time for SQ2 leaving him P12 on the timesheet. He went out along with Gasly, Valtteri Bottas, Liam Lawson and Zhou.
The remaining 10 drivers swapped over to the soft tyres for the pole position shoot-out with Verstappen waiting at the end of the pit lane. He made his mark only to lose his time for exceeding the track limits at Turn 5, Leclerc also lost his opening gambit. And then his second attempt too.
As such Sergio Perez sat top of the timesheet with a 1:25.3. He was overhauled by the McLaren team-mates, Norris up into P1 ahead of Piastri. With two minutes remaining only five drivers, Norris, Piastri, Perez, Sainz and Verstappen had lap times.
Russell jumped up to third place behind the McLarens but then came Verstappen, the reigning World Champion on a hot one and up through the second sector. But losing time in the third sector and his time only good enough for P3, it was a Sprint Qualifying pole position for Piastri with Norris making it an all-papaya front row.
The Aussie rookie put in a last gasp 1:24.454 to overhaul Norris by 0.082s, Verstappen a further tenth down.
1 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren 1:24.454
2 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.082
3 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.192
4 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.387
5 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.505
6 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.701
7 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.793
8 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +0.866
9 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.928
10 Esteban OCON Alpine no time
11 Pierre GASLY Alpine 1:25.686
12 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes 1:25.962
13 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo 1:26.236
14 Liam LAWSON AlphaTauri 1:26.584
15 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo 1:54.546
16 Lance STROLL Aston Martin 1:26.846
17 Alexander ALBON Williams 1:26.862
18 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri 1:26.926
19 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team 1:27.438
20 Logan SARGEANT William 2:05.741