The Brazilian Grand Prix weekend promised an exhilarating fusion of speed, strategy, and spectacle. Interlagos, was set to add another chapter to its storied history.
The weekend was poised to deliver motorsport drama at its most intense and visceral and it didn’t disappoint. There were so many developments and advances made by some of the teams, and also apparent regression by others (notably Mercedes.)
As fans from around the globe tuned in, the Brazilian Grand Prix stood ready to unfurl a tapestry of racing magnificence, where legends are made and the limits of man and machine are tested to their thrilling extremes.
Index to This Article
Brazilian Grand Prix F1 Qualifying Session Overview
In an electrifying qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday, November 3, 2023, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen clinched pole position under challenging weather conditions. The session at Interlagos was marked by a massive storm that struck during the final moments, adding a dramatic twist to the event.
Brazilian GP Q1: The Initial Skirmish
George Russell of Mercedes topped the timesheets in Q1 with a lap time of 1m10.0340s, although he faced an investigation for potentially impeding Pierre Gasly’s Alpine at the pit exit.
Close on his heels were Verstappen and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari. The session saw Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Daniel Ricciardo (AlphaTauri), Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo), Logan Sargeant (Williams), and Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) eliminated from the contention.
Brazilian GP Q2: The Battle Intensifies
Lando Norris of McLaren set the fastest time in Q2, clocking in at 1m10.021s, edging out Verstappen by 0.14s.
The session bid farewell to Nico Hulkenberg (Haas), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Pierre Gasly (Alpine), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), and Alex Albon (Williams), with the latter losing his fastest time due to exceeding track limits.
Brazilian GP Q3: The Final Showdown and Nature’s Twist
As the teams anticipated rain, they sent their drivers out immediately in Q3. Verstappen set a leading time of 1m10.727s, three-tenths ahead of Leclerc. Then, as the rain poured down, the session was red-flagged and subsequently not resumed. Aston Martin secured the second row with Stroll leading Fernando Alonso.
The Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Russell took the third row, followed by Norris and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari. Oscar Piastri spun his McLaren as the rain began, affecting Sergio Perez, who ended up ninth. Post-session, race stewards handed grid penalties to Russell, Ocon, and Gasly, altering their starting positions for the race.
The qualifying session set the stage for what promises to be an exciting race, with strategic gambles and weather playing a significant role in the outcome.
Final Brazilian GP Qualifying Results
|1||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||01:10.4||01:10.2||01:10.7||18|
|3||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||01:10.6||01:10.4||01:11.3||16|
|4||Fernando Alonso||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||01:10.6||01:10.2||01:11.4||18|
|7||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||01:10.6||01:10.0||01:12.0||13|
|9||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||01:10.7||01:10.2||01:12.3||17|
|10||Oscar Piastri||MCLAREN MERCEDES||01:10.5||01:10.3||DNF||15|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||HAAS FERRARI||01:10.5||01:10.5||15|
|12||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||01:10.8||01:10.6||15|
|13||Pierre Gasly||ALPINE RENAULT||01:10.8||01:10.6||14|
|14||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||01:10.6||01:10.7||15|
|15||Alexander Albon||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||01:10.6||01:10.8||15|
|16||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||01:10.8||9|
|17||Daniel Ricciardo||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||01:10.8||6|
|18||Valtteri Bottas||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||01:11.0||9|
|19||Logan Sargeant||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||01:11.0||9|
|20||Zhou Guanyu||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||01:11.3||9|
Brazilian GP Sprint Shootout Race Qualifying Sessions
In a surprising turn of events, Lando Norris of McLaren outpaced the Red Bull duo, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, to secure pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix sprint race.
Despite a slower first sector, Norris’s overall lap time was unbeatable, leaving him somewhat bemused at his unexpected performance.
The Brazilian GP Sprint Qualifying Breakdown
The sprint qualifying session, which determines the grid for the sprint race on Saturday, saw McLaren’s strategy of hitting the track first pay off. Norris’s teammate, Oscar Piastri, set an initial benchmark, which Norris significantly improved upon.
The Red Bulls showed promise, especially in the first sector, but ultimately couldn’t match Norris’s pace, with Verstappen and Perez settling for second and third, respectively.
George Russell of Mercedes also contended for pole, matching Norris’s middle sector time, but lost ground in the final sector.
Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri secured an impressive sixth, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc managed only seventh.
Dramatic Moments and Stewards’ Summons
The session was not without drama, as several drivers, including Norris, were summoned by the stewards for allegedly not following maximum lap time instructions.
The sprint qualifying stages also saw a premature end to the first stage when Esteban Ocon’s Alpine collided with Fernando Alonso, causing a red flag and leaving Lance Stroll, who had shone in Friday’s qualifying, in 17th position for the sprint grid.
The Impact of the Brazilian GP Sprint Qualifying
Norris’s pole position added an exciting layer to the sprint race, with the potential for strategic plays and a shake-up in the usual grid hierarchy. The sprint race results set the stage for the main event.
The Final Brazilian GP Sprint Shootout Results
|1||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||01:11.8||01:11.2||01:10.6||15|
|2||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||01:11.9||01:11.3||01:10.7||16|
|3||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||01:12.2||01:11.2||01:10.8||16|
|6||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||01:12.4||01:11.7||01:11.0||12|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||01:12.2||01:11.4||01:11.1||11|
|10||Oscar Piastri||MCLAREN MERCEDES||01:12.4||01:11.6||01:11.2||14|
|11||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||01:12.1||01:11.7||10|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||HAAS FERRARI||01:12.1||01:11.8||10|
|13||Pierre Gasly||ALPINE RENAULT||01:12.2||01:11.8||8|
|14||Valtteri Bottas||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||01:12.3||01:11.9||8|
|15||Fernando Alonso||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||01:12.2||6|
|16||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||01:12.4||5|
|17||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||01:12.5||6|
|18||Zhou Guanyu||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||01:12.5||5|
|19||Alexander Albon||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||01:12.5||5|
|20||Logan Sargeant||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||01:12.6||6|
Brazilian GP Sprint Race
The Brazilian Grand Prix sprint race on Saturday, November 4, 2023, was a showcase of Max Verstappen’s dominance as he clinched victory, signaling concerns for Mercedes ahead of Sunday’s main race.
The sprint race, which sets the grid for the Grand Prix, was a strategic battle that saw significant position changes and hinted at the competitive dynamics for the upcoming race.
Verstappen’s Commanding Performance
Max Verstappen, starting from second, quickly took the lead from Lando Norris in the opening lap and maintained his position throughout the race.
His victory marked his fourth sprint win of the season, further cementing his status in the championship.
For Mercedes, the sprint race was less than ideal. Lewis Hamilton, who started well on soft tires, could not sustain his pace and finished more than 20 seconds behind Verstappen.
Hamilton was even passed by Yuki Tsunoda in the Alpha Romeo.
His teammate, George Russell, also faced challenges, losing positions to both Norris and Sergio Perez.
Norris and Perez on the Podium
Despite losing the lead to Verstappen, Lando Norris managed to secure a podium finish, coming in second.
Sergio Perez, who initially fell behind but recovered positions, completed the podium, which could be crucial in his battle for second place in the championship standings.
The Brazilian GP Sprint Race’s Implications
The results of the sprint race have set a dynamic grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix, with Verstappen leading the pack.
The performance of the drivers and their respective strategies during the sprint race have provided insights into what can be expected in the main event, with tire choices and race pace likely to be critical factors.
Final Brazilian GP Sprint Race Results
|1||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||24||30:07.2||8|
|2||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||24||+4.287s||7|
|3||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||24||+13.617s||6|
|6||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||24||+29.210s||3|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||24||+35.303s||0|
|10||Oscar Piastri||MCLAREN MERCEDES||24||+38.219s||0|
|11||Fernando Alonso||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||24||+39.061s||0|
|12||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||24||+39.478s||0|
|13||Pierre Gasly||ALPINE RENAULT||24||+40.621s||0|
|14||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||24||+42.848s||0|
|15||Alexander Albon||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||24||+43.394s||0|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||24||+56.507s||0|
|17||Zhou Guanyu||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||24||+58.723s||0|
|18||Nico Hulkenberg||HAAS FERRARI||24||+60.330s||0|
|19||Valtteri Bottas||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||24||+60.749s||0|
|20||Logan Sargeant||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||24||+60.945s||0|
Main Brazilian GP Race
The Brazilian Grand Prix at the iconic Interlagos circuit was a race that encapsulated the very essence of Formula 1.
The drama unfolded from the very first lap to the last. Max Verstappen’s victory was a masterclass in control and pace, but the race was about much more than just the winner’s trophy.
The Opening Act and the First-Lap Chaos
As the lights went out, Verstappen maintained his lead, but it was Lando Norris who made a stunning start, catapulting from sixth to second by the first corner.
The field bunched up behind them, and amidst the jostling for positions, disaster struck. Alex Albon and Kevin Magnussen collided, sending debris across the track and bringing out the safety car.
The incident was significant enough for race control to red flag the race, halting the action and allowing teams to regroup.
The Restart: A New Order
Upon the restart, Verstappen again held firm, but Lewis Hamilton, who had been eyeing a move on Norris, locked up and lost momentum. This allowed Fernando Alonso to sneak past, setting the stage for a series of battles that would define the race.
Hamilton’s error was a prelude to a difficult afternoon for Mercedes, with strategy woes compounding their troubles.
Verstappen vs. Norris: A Duel at the Front
At the front, Verstappen and Norris were in a league of their own. The Red Bull driver’s pace was relentless, but Norris was not willing to relent, keeping Verstappen honest throughout the race. Despite the McLaren driver’s valiant efforts, Verstappen’s management of the tyres and his car’s superior performance allowed him to gradually extend his lead, showcasing why he is the reigning world champion.
Alonso, Hamilton, and Perez: A Triad of Talent
Behind the leading pair, the race was alive with competition. Alonso, after his opportunistic move on Hamilton, was displaying the racecraft that has made him a double world champion.
However, he had the ever-persistent Sergio Perez on his tail. The Red Bull driver, known for his tyre management, was a constant presence in Alonso’s mirrors.
Hamilton, meanwhile, was struggling to recover from his earlier error. The Mercedes driver found himself in an unusual position, battling in the midfield rather than fighting at the front.
His duel with Alonso and Perez was a highlight, with each driver showcasing their unique strengths. Alonso’s defensive driving, Perez’s strategic thinking, and Hamilton’s raw speed made for a captivating watch.
The Aftermath of the Red Flag
The red flag period seemed to have affected the teams differently. While Red Bull and McLaren capitalized on the pause, Mercedes appeared to lose their way.
The strategic decisions made during this period were crucial, with some teams opting for aggressive tyre strategies that would later play out during the race.
The Final Stages: Strategy and Stamina
As the laps ticked down, the importance of strategy came to the fore. Verstappen’s Red Bull was a perfect symphony of speed and strategy, while Norris’s McLaren was the plucky underdog, refusing to give up.
Alonso and Perez continued their dance, with the Aston Martin driver eventually securing a podium finish by the slimmest of margins, a mere five one-hundredths of a second ahead of Perez.
The Brazilian Grand Prix was a testament to the unpredictability and excitement of Formula 1. Verstappen’s victory may have seemed straightforward, but the battles throughout the field, the strategic nuances, and the sheer will of the drivers made it a race to remember. F
rom the first-lap incident to the strategic duels, Interlagos delivered a spectacle that will be talked about for seasons to come.
Brazil Grand Prix – Final Results
|1||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||71||56:48.9||25|
|2||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||71||+8.277s||19|
|3||Fernando Alonso||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||71||+34.155s||15|
|4||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||71||+34.208s||12|
|5||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||71||+40.845s||10|
|7||Pierre Gasly||ALPINE RENAULT||71||+56.093s||6|
|9||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||71||+69.880s||2|
|10||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||70||+1 lap||1|
|11||Logan Sargeant||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||70||+1 lap||0|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||HAAS FERRARI||70||+1 lap||0|
|13||Daniel Ricciardo||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||70||+1 lap||0|
|14||Oscar Piastri||MCLAREN MERCEDES||69||+2 laps||0|
|NC||Valtteri Bottas||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||39||DNF||0|
|NC||Zhou Guanyu||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||22||DNF||0|
|NC||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||0||DNF||0|
|NC||Alexander Albon||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||0||DNF||0|
|* Provisional results. Note – Norris scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.|