Carlos Sainz secured his second Formula 1 pole position in a poignant qualifying session for the United States Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver also started from P1 at this year’s British Grand Prix and went on to win – and will be aiming to maintain that 100% record when he starts alongside Max Verstappen on the front row, with Charles Leclerc dropping down the order due to engine penalties.
Less than an hour before the start of qualifying, news was confirmed that Red Bull company founder Dietrich Mateschitz had died after a long illness at the age of 78.
Verstappen and fellow driver Sergio Perez were among the entire team staff who were called together for a sombre meeting to inform them of the sad development.
But then attention quickly had to revert to matters on track, with Perez knowing he was facing a five-place grid penalty for taking new engine parts more than the permitted maximum for the season. His drop was the same as those affecting Fernando Alonso and Zhou Guanyu – but Charles Leclerc had a 10-place penalty for he took a new turbo as well as an ICE.
As the air temperature reached its peak for the day, drivers were having to eke out the limited life of their soft tyres and Sainz did that superbly as he went almost half a second faster than anyone in Q1 entering the final seven minutes and remained at the top of the standings.
In contrast, Daniel Ricciardo, who had a troubled FP3, needed a stellar final run to make it through to Q2 but failed to do so and joined another shock casualty, Esteban Ocon in the Alpine. They were joined by Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher – who had a spin – and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, the Canadian dropping from 15th to last on the final run.
🚨 OUT IN Q1 🚨
16. Kevin Magnussen
17. Daniel Ricciardo
18. Esteban Ocon
19. Mick Schumacher
20. Nicholas Latifi
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) October 22, 2022
In Q2, Leclerc and Verstappen rose to the top with Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell confirming they were contenders for the front two rows due to the penalties affecting their rivals.
Alex Albon was threatening to get the Williams into Q3 as he sat an excellent 11th heading into the final hot laps, while Sebastian Vettel had only one shot at claiming the place in the top-10 shootout that had looked likely given the Aston Martin’s impressive pace previously during the weekend.
High hopes for Albon when he rose to eighth, but he slipped to 11th and bowed out along with Vettel. AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda also exited along with Zhou Guanyu – who thought he was through but lost a lap time due to exceeding track limits.
That gave a reprieve to Lando Norris, putting one McLaren into the top 10, while Lance Stroll and Valtteri Bottas could also be pleased with their afternoon’s work so far as they too advanced.
🚨 OUT IN Q2 🚨
11. Alex Albon
12. Sebastian Vettel
13. Pierre Gasly
14. Zhou Guanyu
15. Yuki Tsunoda
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) October 22, 2022
As the sun began to set and Ed Sheeran thought about tuning up for his post-qualifying concert at COTA, Ferrari set the two fastest times of the opening runs in Q3, Leclerc ahead of Sainz – and Hamilton was in third ahead of Verstappen.
The reigning double World Champion was out early for his last shot at pole and eased in his tyres with an out-lap and a prep lap, allowing most of his rivals to come past and set their final time first.
Leclerc improved but was outpaced by Sainz, the 28-year-old securing pole and will be joined on the front row by Verstappen who could only manage third fastest.
Perez was fourth but drops five places, which means an all-Mercedes second row of Hamilton and Russell ahead of Stroll, an excellent fifth on the grid.
1 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari 1:34.356
2 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.065
3 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull +0.092
4 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull +0.289
5 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.591
6 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.632
7 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +1.242
8 Lando NORRIS McLaren +1.334
9 Fernando ALONSO Alpine +1.520
10 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +1.963
11 Alexander ALBON Williams +1.122 (Q2)
12 Sebastian VETTEL Aston Martin +1.152
13 Pierre GASLY AlphaTauri +1.494
14 ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1.724
15 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +1.901
16 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas +1.652 (Q1)
17 Daniel RICCIARDO McLaren +1.749
18 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.771
19 Mick SCHUMACHER Haas +1.814
20 Nicholas LATIFI Williams +1.947