A single man in command even in the Qatar desert: Max Verstappen takes pole position (the 30th in his career, tenth this year) in Losail and already tomorrow, in the sprint race, he can become world champion for the third time in a row. The Ferraris don’t shine on the Qatari evening: Charles Leclerc, initially seventh, will start on the third row on Sunday with the fifth fastest time after the cancellation of the lap times of the McLarens of Norris and Piastri who had done better than the Monegasque and who had their times (and positions) canceled due to ‘track limits’ while they were being interviewed. Even further behind was Carlos Sainz, eliminated in Q2 with the 12th fastest time.
«I always want to win, let’s try to have a good day tomorrow too» were Verstappen’s words at the end of qualifying. «A great start to the weekend, even if it was quite complicated with the new asphalt. I’m very happy with the pole – he adds – and I want to win the Sprint, let’s try to have a good day tomorrow. The car is going well and I couldn’t hope for anything better.” And tomorrow the Dutchman can already celebrate: 3 points are enough for Verstappen, he will have to have a good Shootout and then finish in the top 6. And if everything goes wrong, on Sunday he will take from pole and will have another opportunity. After the best time achieved in free practice in the afternoon, the Dutchman from Red Bull also confirmed himself in the hour of activity in the evening, obtaining a time of 1’23″778, approximately three tenths faster than Lando’s McLaren Norris, then relegated to tenth place due to a track limit in the last attempt to attack the time, like his teammate Oscar Piastri who was instead relegated to sixth position. Alongside Verstappen there will be George Russell’s Mercedes, then Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, with Aston Martin.
Then Leclerc, followed by Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas. Qualifying on Saturday was disastrous for Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz, both out of Q3. The Mexican also lost his best time in Q2 due to “track limits”, and will start 13th while the Spaniard – struggling due to the lack of grip offered by the SF-23 – obtained the 12th time and will be forced to race comeback on the Qatari Losail track. “I suffered a lot when the track cooled down – commented Sainz – It’s no wonder I was eliminated in Q2″. Team principal Frederique Vasseur is aware that the Ferraris would have had difficulties: «The behavior of the car did not take us by surprise – he commented – We had foreseen difficulties on this track. We had some complications in particular sectors of the track. We lacked the necessary grip in Turn 1 and we identified some technical problems in Turn 13 » he explained. «The Sprint Race will be fundamental. Not only to earn points, but also to analyze our performance in the long term. And then there will be another qualifying session under the scorching sun,” concludes Vasseur.