Max Verstappen takes pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix after rain

Max Verstappen takes pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix after rain dominates final qualifying session with drivers only able to log one lap

  • Verstappen got out early in the final session and his time of 1:10.727 was enough
  • Rain arrived causing grip issues on the track for drivers trying to set their times
  • Lando Norris qualified only seventh despite looking like he could challenge

A black sky was closing in like night, a prelude to a deluge, but by then Max Verstappen had produced his latest exhibition of greased lightning to claim pole position for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

It turned out to be a one-lap shootout as the gathering storm brought an end to proceedings. Verstappen finished qualifying three-tenths ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll a surprise third best.

Anyone who dithered in the pits was doomed. Both McLarens were hobbled by their tardiness, especially so Lando Norris, who had been quick throughout and might have threatened pole – ‘easily quick enough,’ said the Briton. Instead, he qualified seventh.

‘It’s night,’ said Fernando Alonso, fourth in the other Aston, of the darkness that stalked Interlagos. The session was called off at 4.11pm local time. 

Max Verstappen will be on pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday after a rain-impacted qualifying on Friday

The skies darkened as qualifying went on, with heavy rain hitting the track minutes into Q3

Lando Norris could only manage seventh with his one lap despite looking threatening earlier on in qualifying

Thunder and lightning started moments later. It was an eerie scene, like something out of a film studio.

Verstappen, ironically, was unhappy with his Red Bull early on, complaining: ‘My car is jumping around like a kangaroo.’ But like everywhere, he came up just fine.

‘We did not know when the weather would hit but this is insane,’ said Verstappen, who had taken his 11th pole of the season.

‘It seems it will be very close in the race.’

Charles Leclerc (right) will start second for Sunday’s race after Saturday’s sprint sessions

Leclerc said: ‘In my whole career I have never experienced anything like that. From Turn 4 there was no rain but the car was very difficult to drive. The change in the wind was unbelievable. There was no grip and I was thinking about coming in at the end of the lap.’

As for the Mercedes pair, Lewis Hamilton was fifth best and George Russell sixth, which was pretty much representative of their pace across the session.

So much for Daniel Ricciardo’s revival in Mexico a week ago! There, he qualified a startling fourth and finished a fine seventh to pile pressure on Red Bull’s out-of-form Sergio Perez (who was ninth fastest).

But here the Australian qualified a disappointing 17th, a place behind his AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.

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