Charles Leclerc Dominates Qualifying to Secure Pole Position for the Las Vegas Grand Prix

November 18, 2023Ramon Jones
Formula 1

At the start of the session both Calros Sainz and Lance Stroll were eliminated from being able to secure pole position. Sainz received a 10 place grid penalty due to having to change a power unit after his incident in FP1. Lance Stroll was handed 5 place grid penalty for overtaking under a double yellow flag during practice.

Q1 – Both McLarens Eliminated

Q1 got off to a quick start with the Haas cars heading out first in the session. It wasn’t long before Charles Leclerc topped the table with a flyer setting a 1m33.617s which was soon challenged by Max Verstappen but Verstappen fell short in the first session. A number of drivers had lap times deleted for track limits. 1m34.7XXs was the benchmark for Q2. Both the McLarens failed to make it out of Q1 which was a huge blow to their championship fight with Aston Martin. The McLarens never seemed to fire up their tires and thus fell behind on pace.

Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) and Zhou Guanyu (Alpha Romeo) were eliminated from the session along with the McLarens. Perez was suspected to be under investigation for impeding. However, no official action was issued by the stewards at this point. Lance Stroll was summoned for failing to slow under a yellow flag.

Q2 – Perez and Hamilton Fail to Progress

In Q2 the lap times started to drop dramatically. The Haas’ looked good early on in the session again. However, they were not able to improve on Q1 times. It was noted that the rate of rubbering in on the track was slower than normal which was likely an artifact of the cool track temperatures. Track temperatures at the start of the session were around 60 degrees Fahrenheit; 4 degrees lower than in FP3.

STREETS OF LAS VEGAS, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – NOVEMBER 17: Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23 during the Las Vegas GP at Streets of Las Vegas on Friday November 17, 2023, United States of America. (Photo by Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images)

Charles Leclerc was the first to dip into the 1m32s, setting a 1m32.834s. Sainz followed a half second behind Leclerc with Russell running in third. Surprisingly Sergio Perez made the decision to pit with 2 minutes to go which ultimately left him vulnerable in P6 as the lap times began to fall. By the end of the session Perez was below the cut off and failed to make it to Q3. Lewis Hamilton also suffered the same fate after failing to get a clean lap in the 1m32s range.

Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg were eliminated from the session. Stroll will effectively start from P19 after his grid penalty is added to his finish. He may face further action depending on if the stewards hand down another punishment his failure to slow under a yellow in Q1. Both Williams cars made it into Q3 which will put them in possible point scoring territory come Saturday.

Q3 – Leclerc Secures Pole

The Ferraris made it clear in Q3 that they brought the best package this weekend. Charles Leclerc topped the table once again as the driver went out for their opening laps. With 3 minutes to go the top three were separated by less than 1 tenth of a second. By 1 and a half minutes the Williams cars both had not yet set a lap time. Essentially the Williams cars had one lap to determine their starting grid position. Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant secured P6 and P7 in the session.

STREETS OF LAS VEGAS, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – NOVEMBER 17: Alex Albon, Williams FW45 during the Las Vegas GP at Streets of Las Vegas on Friday November 17, 2023, United States of America. (Photo by Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images)

Charles Leclerc’s pace remained unanswered and he secured pole position after setting a 1m32.726s lap. His teammate Carlos Sainz finished the session P2, but with his grid penalty will drop him out of the top 10. Max Verstappen will inherit P2 due to the Sainz penalty handing him a front row start. George Russell will move up to P3 with the rest of the grid shifting up one position up to 12th where Carlos Sainz will start the race barring any potential penalties from the stewards that have yet to be announced.

Preliminary Qualifying Results are Below

1Charles LeclercFERRARI1:33.6171:32.7751:32.72623
2Carlos SainzFERRARI1:33.8511:33.3381:32.77023
3Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:34.1901:33.5721:33.10419
4George RussellMERCEDES1:34.1371:33.3511:33.11222
5Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT1:34.2721:33.4941:33.23925
6Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:34.6341:33.5881:33.32321
7Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:34.5251:33.7331:33.51323
8Valtteri BottasALFA ROMEO FERRARI1:34.3051:33.8091:33.52519
9Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:34.3371:33.6641:33.53723
10Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:34.4221:33.6171:33.55524
11Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:34.3071:33.83715
12Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:34.5741:33.85514
13Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI1:34.2651:33.97917
14Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:34.5041:34.19918
15Daniel RicciardoALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT1:34.6831:34.30818
16Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES1:34.7039
17Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT1:34.83410
18Zhou GuanyuALFA ROMEO FERRARI1:34.84910
19Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES1:34.85010
20Yuki TsunodaALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT1:36.4479
*Pending final grid penalties.