United States Grand Prix – A close-fought qualifying session ended with Charles Leclerc on top after Max Verstappen’s best time was deleted for track limits.
The sole American driver on the grid, Logan Sargeant, was the first to head out into the sunshine as qualifying kicked off at the Circuit of the Americas. The Williams driver headed back to the pits instead of completing a timed lap so it was Pierre Gasly who opened the timesheets with a 1:37.529.
Qualifying Results – 2023 United States Grand Prix
After the opening eight minutes of the session things at the top looked very similar to how FP1 ended, with Max Verstappen a tenth and a half ahead of Charles Leclerc. Only twelve drivers had set times at that point with the reigning champion’s 1:36.470 the best of the bunch so far.
Over the next few minutes Nico Hulkenberg and Gasly managed to go quicker than the Red Bull driver but as the clock ticked down to five minutes left, the Ferraris jumped to the top, Carlos Sainz the first to get into the 1:35s after setting a 1:35.824, almost three tenth quicker than his teammate while Alex Albon, Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo (in his first race back since he broke his wrist at the Dutch Grand Prix), Zhou Guanyu and Sargeant (who was without a time after a track limit infringement meant his first effort was deleted) were in the drop zone.
In the final few minutes Verstappen set a 1:35.346 to go almost half a second up on Sainz’ effort, the Spaniard banking on his time to see him through as he watched the end of the session from his garage.
Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris beat Verstappen’s time at the end, the Mercedes driver setting a 1:35.091, but things didn’t turn out well for Aston Martin or Williams, neither of their cars making it through and they were joined by the earlier timesheet-topper, Hulkenberg.
The Ferraris were the first out as the fight for the top ten began and Leclerc started things off with a 1:35.888. Halfway through the session as all cars retreated to their garages, Verstappen was once again at the top with a 1:35.491, Oscar Piastri was less than a tenth off while the Alpines in P3 and P4 were just over a tenth off the Dutch driver’s time.
Ricciardo, Magnussen, Zhou, Sainz and Norris were the drivers outside the top ten, the McLaren racer without a time as he had his opening lap deleted due to track limits.
Leclerc almost made it into the 1:34s, setting a 1:35.004 in the final couple of minutes as the two Ferraris once again jumped to the top of the times. Verstappen tried to answer that but could only get to 0.004 seconds of the Monegasque driver.
In the end there was no change in the top two, Hamilton’s final lap demoting Sainz to P4 while Yuki Tsunoda, the two Alfa Romeos, along with Magnussen and Ricciardo failed to make it into the top ten and their day ended here.
As the pole shootout started, it was Verstappen who headed out first. He opened proceedings with a 1:35.081 but Leclerc’s first effort was the better as he made it into the 1:34s with a 1:34.829 and while Hamilton then slotted into P2, just half a tenth off the Ferrari driver’s time.
All drivers returned to the pits after the first runs and Russell was the only one without a time after losing his to track limits. Just like the current timesheets, Leclerc was the first to head out for the final laps and Russell the last.
The lead Ferrari driver improved his provisional pole time however, despite a bad opening sector, Verstappen briefly beat him with a 1:34.718, but track limits saw that time deleted and it was Leclerc who would take pole with a 1:34.723.
Norris ended the day in P2 0.130 seconds off the Ferrari racer while Hamilton slotted into P3. Sainz was P4. Russell was P5 just ahead of Verstappen’s first timed lap of Q3 was good enough for P6. The Alpines of Gasly and Ocon took P7 and P8 while the top ten was rounded out by Perez and Piastri.