Ferrari's Charles Leclerc dominated qualifying for Formula 1's 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix, as he led team-mate Carlos Sainz and world champion Max Verstappen in Q3.
Leclerc led all three segments of qualifying, which featured Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez not making the finale and both McLarens being knocked out in Q1.
In the first two segments, the cars completed multiple runs on the same set of softs to build temperature and gain grip on the slippery, cool new Vegas track surface, but in Q3 the frontrunners completed typical single-lap efforts.
After Leclerc had established provisional pole with a 1m33.021s first lap in Q3, Sainz was the outlier in trying two warm-up laps for his second go, which meant Leclerc and Verstappen would set their laps ahead of him even as they left the pits late on to try and catch the best of the dramatic track evolution factor here.
But the one-lap efforts did not produce the usual excitement as the tyres did not fire up – as widely expected – with Leclerc able to improve best being slower than his personal best in sector one and Verstappen abandoning his second Q3 attempt as he failed to gain any time in the opening two sectors.
Leclerc stayed on it and eventually found enough tyre temperature to improve to a 1m32.726s, which was still barely quicker than he went in Q2.
Sainz's alternative approach also paid off as he went faster and maintained the second place he had taken on the first Q3 attempts, but he will drop to 12th for the race as a result of his controversial penalty for taking a new battery following his FP1 water valve cover strike.
Behind Verstappen, efforts coming in during Q3's dying seconds put Pierre Gasly and Williams pair Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant into sixth and seventh – Gasly and Albon unable to dislodge George Russell from fourth after he had completed his final Q3 run just ahead of them.
Valtteri Bottas took eighth ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Fernando Alonso.
In Q2, which the Ferrari drivers started on used softs before switching to a fresh pair, while Verstappen waited to just complete a later stint on new softs, ended with late improvements for Albon and Gasly knocking out Hamilton.
These gains also eliminated Sergio Perez – the second Red Bull having been wheeled back into its garage with over two minutes of the session remaining and Perez already sitting down in sixth and with just a 0.4s margin to 11th.
Also knocked out in Q2 were Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo.
In Q1, Stroll's last-gasp improvement knocked out Lando Norris in 16th, ahead of fellow fallers Esteban Ocon, Zhou Guanyu, Oscar Piastri in the other McLaren and AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda.
Stroll faces a post-qualifying investigation for possibly failing to slow under yellow flags brought out to cover Tsunoda's Turn 5 off late in Q1, with the Canadian already set to drop five places for the race overtaking under yellows in FP3.
Hamilton, Russell, Albon, Zhou, Gasly and Bottas also have to explain to the stewards why they were clocked going too slowly at stages in Q1 – part of the attempt brought in since Monza to reduce traffic issues in qualifying but has typically always ended with drivers in question only being handed warnings.
|Driver Info|| |
|1||C. Leclerc Ferrari||16||Ferrari||Ferrari|| |
|2||M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing||1||Red Bull||Red Bull|| |
|3||G. Russell Mercedes||63||Mercedes||Mercedes|| |
|4||P. Gasly Alpine||10||Alpine||Renault|| |
|5||A. Albon Williams||23||Williams||Mercedes|| |
|6||L. Sargeant Williams||2||Williams||Mercedes|| |
|7||V. Bottas Alfa Romeo||77||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari|| |
|8||K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team||20||Haas||Ferrari|| |
|9||F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing||14||Aston Martin||Mercedes|| |
|10||L. Hamilton Mercedes||44||Mercedes||Mercedes|| |
|11||S. Perez Red Bull Racing||11||Red Bull||Red Bull|| |
|12||C. Sainz Ferrari||55||Ferrari||Ferrari|| |
|13||N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team||27||Haas||Ferrari|| |
|14||D. Ricciardo AlphaTauri||3||AlphaTauri||Red Bull|| |
|15||L. Norris McLaren||4||McLaren||Mercedes|| |
|16||E. Ocon Alpine||31||Alpine||Renault|| |
|17||G. Zhou Alfa Romeo||24||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari|| |
|18||O. Piastri McLaren||81||McLaren||Mercedes|| |
|19||L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing||18||Aston Martin||Mercedes|| |
|20||Y. Tsunoda AlphaTauri||22||AlphaTauri||Red Bull|| |
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