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Brazilian Grand Prix 2023

Winners and Losers from 2023 F1 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying

As a storm battered Interlagos mid-way through Q3, it was a strange end to qualifying for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix - but who made the list of Winners and Losers?

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To news overview © XPBimages

For the final time in 2023, Formula 1 went qualifying on a Friday ahead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix Sprint weekend.

But it could be the final time the Sprint format as we have come to know it this season could be used as Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has hinted at changes coming after discussions with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

The rumoured idea confirmed by Wolff is to move the Sprint Shootout to Friday, have the Sprint on Saturday morning before Grand Prix qualifying in its usual afternoon slot.

While discussions remain on-going, on-track, qualifying delivered one of those weird sessions where teams knew they were racing the weather, and when it came to it, some stepped up to deliver while others faltered.

We start our Winners and Losers with the chief benefactor.

Winner - Lance Stroll

You make your own luck in Formula 1 - and that's certainly what Lance Stroll did by securing third on the grid for the Grand Prix.

Stroll has received a deserved kicking at times this season for some dreadful performances, so it is only right and fair to play up the Canadian when he pulls a strong result out.

He squeaked through to Q2 - and then unlike others behind him, put a time on the board early.

He beat Fernando Alonso in the sister Aston Martin, Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and George Russell all of whom had quicker cars than an AMR23 which has suffered a plunge in performance and competitiveness over recent times.

Aston was early out in Q3 as the storm charged towards Interlagos. All round, coupled with Alonso's P4, this was an excellent performance by the team at a time it needed such a boost.

What did Stroll say?

"I don't think we were lucky, I think we made our own luck. We did well going at the front of the queue and getting good track position as the weather was coming in, so I think that was smart, but I still really felt like crap in the car."

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	© XPBimages

Loser - McLaren/Sergio Perez

What is written above for Lance Stroll, you can basically flip 180 degrees for McLaren.

Both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri were sent out late in Q3, leaving the team vulnerable to a mistake from one affecting the other or by not getting the best of the track conditions.

In conditions such as those, the most crucial thing is to simply get a time on the board early. No matter if it is a scrappy lap, just get something anything on the board. And McLaren didn't.

From a possible pole position, it will start six-10 on the grid. Qualifying does appear to be McLaren's overall weakness given the pace of the MCL60 and it is still a 'young team' learning after its years in the doldrums.

Better then, to have this now at the end of a end-of-season where it is not going to improve on fourth in the standings, as opposed to next season when the team is going to harbour title hopes.

As for Sergio Perez, being caught out by Piastri's juncao spin, leaving him ninth on the grid just about summed up his season as Max Verstappen grabbed another pole. Them's the breaks.

What did Perez say?

"We were just incredibly unlucky today, I should have been on the front row. My lap was very close to Max's until the last corner and I found Piastri, so I had to back up my lap."

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	© XPBimages

Winner - Max Verstappen

And then we have Verstappen himself.

By no means did pole position look assured heading into Q3, having topped neither segment before nor the sole practice session.

But by simply being on the track at the right time, even with a scruffy lap, was able to bag a comfortable 11th pole of the season.

When you are the World Champion, crushing all before you, these things just sometimes happen to fall into your lap. This was one of those occasions for a driver who described his RB19 as a "kangaroo."

What did Verstappen say?

"It seems that it's all very close so you can see that already in qualifying. I expect the same also in the race around here, there's always quite a lot of degradation from the tyres."

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	© XPBimages

Loser - George Russell, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly

Now, when the race director is trying his hardest to solve a problem entirely of the drivers' own making thanks to their constant inability to gap themselves, the one thing you are going to want to make sure you do is obey his instructions.

Niels Wittich informed all drivers and teams that stopping in the fast-lane of the pit-lane was banned from the Interlagos weekend in qualifying and the Sprint Shootout, but drivers could back up in the long pit-exit - providing they kept to the extreme left.

So what did George Russell, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly do? Plonked themselves right in the middle of the pit-exit and slowed down - and each got slapped with a two-place grid penalty.

The drivers could claim that they weren't told by the team over the radio what was happening, but fundamentally, this comes down to personal responsibility, and a driver doing his own homework.

It is crazy to think it was possible to get away with given Wittich's pretty firm instructions in his event notes.

There is nothing any of the trio can say to justify it and their penalties were fully deserved.

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	© XPBimages

F1 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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