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  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Ferrari denied an all-red front row as grid penalties turn Las Vegas qualifying into a gamble

Charles Leclerc stormed to his fifth pole position in 2023 after a dominant performance in the first-ever qualifying at the new Las Vegas street circuit.

Leclerc in his special liveried Ferrari stormed to first with a time of 1:32.726, beating teammate Carlos Sainz by 0.044s.

Sainz however will start the race in 12th place after a grid penalty for a battery change during Thursday’s FP1, in which the Spaniard damaged his Ferrari after driving over a loose manhole cover.

This benefits Max Verstappen, who will now line up on the front row next to Leclerc after qualifying in third.

(Photo by Grand Prix 247)

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez was one of the many victims in a mixed-up qualifying session, failing to make it out of Q2 and will now start 11th after Sainz’s penalty.

George Russell will move up to third after qualifying fourth, ahead of the impressive Pierre Gasly for Alpine and the even more impressive Williams pair of Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant who will now start fifth and sixth, giving Sargeant his best-ever qualifying start in Formula 1.

Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen were also both impressive to qualify well in the top ten, ahead of Fernando Alonso who will start ninth after qualifying in tenth. Lewis Hamilton will now take tenth after being another big victim of Q2.

There were plenty of other surprises down the field, with both McLarens failing to get out of Q1, alongside the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon.

Lando Norris will start 15th for McLaren ahead of Ocon in 16th with Oscar Piastri languishing in 18th, only ahead of Yuki Tsunoda on the road in qualifying but will also start ahead of Lance Stroll who will drop back five places with a grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags in FP3.

Tsunoda’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo did manage to scrape out of Q1, but will start the race in 14th.

All eyes will be on the glittering Vegas strip tomorrow at 5pm AEDT to see if Leclerc can finally break through for his first win of the season, or if Verstappen will once again continue to dominate 2023 like he has all season.


1 Charles LECLERC Ferrari 1:32.726

2 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.044**

3 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull +0.378

4 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.386

5 Pierre GASLY Alpine +0.513

6 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.597

7 Logan SARGEANT Williams +0.787

8 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +0.799

9 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas +0.811

10 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.829

11 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes 1:33.837

12 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull +0.018

13 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +0.142

14 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.362*

15 Daniel RICCIARDO AlphaTauri +0.471

16 Lando NORRIS McLaren 1:34.703

17 Esteban OCON Alpine +0.131

18 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +0.146

19 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.147

20 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +1.744

This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here


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