Sprint Qualifying
F1 2021
Round 19


br Autódromo José Carlos Pace

Three Honda-powered cars qualified in the top five for Formula 1’s final Sprint weekend of the season, with Max on the front row for Red Bull Racing.


The Sprint schedule meant there was just one practice session before Friday qualifying, and both teams hit the ground running. Max and Sergio were second and third respectively despite focusing on high fuel runs later in the session, while Pierre was once again best of the rest in fifth and Yuki started strongly on his first visit to Interlagos in 12th.

There were just a few hours before qualifying, and once running began in Q1 it was a very solid start all round. Sergio and Max were fifth and sixth respectively, while Pierre was eighth and Yuki needed just one timed lap to advance in ninth place.

It was an extremely competitive first part of qualifying and remained that way for Q2, where a lock-up for Yuki on his final lap saw him miss out on a spot in the top ten. He’ll start from 13th in the Sprint on Saturday, with a chance to improve his final starting position for the grand prix itself.

Max, Sergio and Pierre all made it through with strong laps and continued their form in the final part of qualifying, where Max did a very good job to secure a place on the front row. Lewis Hamilton was quickest after taking a new power unit this weekend and will start first on Saturday, but has a five-place grid penalty as a result on Sunday.

Sergio will start from the second row after missing out on P3 by just 0.013s, while Pierre is one spot behind him in fifth after replicating his qualifying result from Mexico a week ago.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
Another Sprint Qualifying event with qualifying coming after just one hour of free practice here in Sao Paulo. This format means that we only get two and a half hours after practice to decide on our settings for the weekend, because of the Parc Ferme conditions. It means it’s a busy weekend for the engineers and mechanics, having to analyse the data and optimise PU and chassis settings in much less time than usual. However, the process was very smooth today, partly because we could count on the experience of the two previous events with this format at Silverstone and Monza. It was a decent start to the weekend for us, with three drivers qualifying in the top five: Max second, Checo fourth and Pierre fifth. On his first visit to Interlagos, Yuki unfortunately did not make the cut to Q3 and starts 13th. However, he has shown good pace in practice and in qualifying so we expect him and the other three drivers to make use of the Sprint Qualifying tomorrow to secure a good start position for the Grand Prix itself on Sunday. We can expect it to be very close once again with our main title rivals in both the short and the long races and we will be doing our best to get another good result here in Brazil.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
I’m happy to be second, that’s a good position to start from in tomorrow’s sprint race. I always want to be closer but sometimes you have to be realistic. Mercedes have taken a new engine so naturally they have more power this weekend, so for me it’s not a big shock that they are ahead. There are not many points to gain tomorrow in the sprint race, so I hope we have a good start and we’ll see what happens from there. Of course, the most important race is on Sunday and I think it’s going to be a lot warmer which will change the behaviour of the car as well, so we’ll see.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
It was a bit tricky today, especially in Q1 having to use two sets of tyres, so we started on the wrong foot in qualifying, but we were progressing well and gaining into Q3. Then I think the track cooled down a bit and we didn’t read the conditions as well as we could have. We got it together for our final lap and we only lacked half a tenth or so to be further ahead. That said, fourth is a strong position to start the sprint race from. I think Mercedes’ new engine seems to be working pretty well, Lewis was untouchable today, but we will see tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow we can have a good sprint race because the car has shown some good pace and I think it should be looking good.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
Today I’m really, really happy. FP1 was quite difficult for me and I struggled a little bit in Quali too, but every time I went out I managed to find a little bit more, playing with everything inside of the car and making small improvements each time we ran. I managed to put it all together when it counted and I think it was a really incredible lap in Q3 today, so I’m really pleased with that. It’s really amazing for us to be Qualifying right behind Mercedes and Red Bull, it’s a critical moment in the Championship and the team did a fantastic job today. Of course, it’s only Friday so we’ve got two more days, it’s going to be pretty intense, but we’ve put ourselves in the best place possible.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
This is another new track for me, so practice was really important this morning and I think I managed to get up to speed quite quickly, which was good. The car feels good round this track, so it’s a shame I couldn’t make it through to Q3 today. I think Sprint Qualifying tomorrow is going to be a bit tricky starting from this position, but I’ll try to make my way forward so I can start Sunday’s race in a stronger place.

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