Fernando Alonso said that Aston Martin needed a bit of luck to regain its pace in this final stretch of the Formula 1 World Championship, and what better place than Brazil. Proof that fortune worked in his favor was that, after the already official pole of Max Verstappen and the unsurprising second of Charles Leclerc, the Asturian’s teammate, Lance Stroll, will start third on Sunday in Interlagos.
After what happened in Mexico, many eyes were on Alonso. After a week of being the focus of numerous rumors, each one crazier, the feeling that he had a lot at stake was evident. And the session started with problems for him. Qualifying began 15 minutes later than expected, until the track was cleaned due to the presence of nails, screws and gravel on the track. In fact, the Spaniard punctured one of his rear wheels for this reason, although it all ended in a scare that spurred him on to set a fourth best time which, heading into Sunday, could be gold.
Q1: Without scares and pending time
The forecast of rain with high humidity above 50% made many of the teams consider doing a quick lap to try to get a good time before it started. Although it didn’t end up having an impact, all the drivers achieved a comfortable lap before looking for more. And the track improved noticeably as the laps progressed.
The fastest was George Russell, who improved at the end, ahead of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, but with a surprising Nico Hulkenberg just 3 thousandths off the Monegasque’s time. The German knows what it’s like to take advantage of similar conditions for a pole position, since he did it during his time at Williams.
Fernando Alonso, although he went to Q2 (and then to Q3, and that is already news after the last races), did so not without suffering, with a good lap that allowed him to set the seventh time of the round. Eliminated were Tsunoda, Ricciardo, Bottas, Sargeant and Zhou.
Q2: A rushed session
As the sky darkened, the pilots became anxious as they saw the danger of rain looming over them. There were several scares, such as one involving Carlos Sainz who almost ended up against the wall, and others like Alex Albon saw how his lap was eliminated for exceeding the ever-present limits of the track.
But as happened in Q1, as the time limit approached, the drivers improved their times by a very small margin to be left out. So much so that less than a tenth and a half allowed Lance Stroll to move into an unexpected Q3 that would bring him joy. Hulkenberg, who promised them very happy, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen and Alex Albon did not make it.
Q3: What is Stroll doing there?
It was night in broad daylight in Brazil, so all the pilots were clear that the first attempt was more than likely to be the right one. With an immense and ominous black cloud over Interlagos, Max Verstappen scored a new pole, but the news was not on him. Not even in the second, a Charles Leclerc wanting to make amends and confirm that he has not yet forgotten winning.
What no one saw coming was Lance Stroll’s third period. And seeing Fernando Alonso fourth on this circuit is, as far as possible, something acceptable. The news of the day came when the rain became evident on the track. Oscar Piastri’s exit onto the green, with the McLaren out of control, and starting to shout as if Noé wanted to see Formula 1 live was one. The FIA ordered the session to be stopped with just over four minutes remaining and not resumed, with which Lance Stroll, that driver who is still in competition clinging only to being the son of the team owner, was confirmed as third on the grid.
The Silverstone team will occupy the second row of the grid, surpassing drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Pérez, who has been mired in misery for several weekends and whose runners-up position is significantly in jeopardy.
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