The first qualifying of the new championship showed that the main favorites to win remain the Red Bull drivers, and their main rivals are the Ferrari drivers.
Aston Martin fastest in third practice
The speed of the AMR23 surprised many in the paddock on Friday, Fernando Alonso continued to surprise on Saturday. The third session of free races is not particularly informative, since it took place during the day and in completely different conditions to those of the race. Therefore, the teams took advantage of the hour, mainly to test certain technical solutions, give them the opportunity to practice, work with tires. However, the results were interesting. Alonso was 0.005 seconds ahead of Verstappen and 0.106 seconds ahead of Pérez. They are followed by Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz. Rounding out the top ten were Oscar Piastri and Pierre Gasly. It is too early to say that the “Big Three” have become a four. However, Aston Martin will have a say in the fight for the podium.
Two segments for Ferrari
Qualifying for the first stage of the World Championship made it possible for the first time to compare the real speeds of the cars under the same conditions. The fight for the starting places forces us to reveal everything that is in the cars.
In the first segment, only the Ferrari drivers used harder medium tyres. Everyone else worked for Soft. At some point, the session was halted after Leclerc’s Ferrari lost a piece of the aerodynamic body kit. Then Sainz’s time was also taken for going off track.
After that, Ferrari decided not to take risks and turned to Soft. Sainz sets the best time in the segment, and Gasly (20th), de Vries (19), Piastri (18), Magnussen (17) and Sargent (16) were left out of the fight. Also, the Formula 1 rookie showed the same time as Lando Norris, but the McLaren driver showed it earlier, meaning he took a higher place, allowing Lando to go further.
In the second segment, everyone chose Soft and the results became denser. According to the results of the segment, the top ten was reduced to eight tenths. The best time in the segment is once again with the Ferrari driver. This time it was shown by Charles Leclerc. Albon (15), Tsunoda (14), Zhou (13), Bottas (12), Norris (11) did not make it to the final.
21st pole of Verstappen’s career, Alonso is fifth
On the first attempt of the final segment, Verstappen immediately set the bar high, for the first time all weekend in one and a half minutes: 1.29.897. Sainz made a mistake on a flying lap, Leclerc made a go, did the lap in exactly one and a half minutes and never started again. Haas driver Niko Hulkenberg also went to just one attempt, made a mistake going off the track, his time was disallowed and the German was tenth.
On the second attempt, Verstappen added another: 1:29.708. Perez also added -1,29,846. The Red Bull drivers were the only ones to complete a lap of the track in less than a minute and a half. No wonder they have the front row, and Verstappen has the 21st pole position of his career. Behind them are two Ferrari drivers, Leclerc and Sainz.
Free practice hero Fernando Alonso starts fifth, just 0.004 seconds ahead of Russell. Next up is another Mercedes driver: Hamilton. Rounding out the top ten were Stroll, Okon and Hulkenberg.