Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc ended the qualifying session for the 2023 Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix in seventh place, on a track that did not seem to be favourable to the characteristics of the SF-23 car, but will start the race from fifth position as both McLaren drivers had their lap times deleted.
The final fast lap was very very close for Lando Norris over the kerbs. And the stewards later confirmed the McLaren did run off track and so the British driver has lost his second-fastest lap and front-row start. He drops down to 10th on Sunday’s grid with no time on the board, after his first Q3 lap was also deleted for a track limits violation. That promotes George Russell to the front row alongside polesitter Max Verstappen, with Oscar Piastri third in the now lead McLaren. Lewis Hamilton is fourth, with both Mercedes’ on the front two rows – which is a surprise after Suzuka.
The other McLaren of Oscar Piastri also lost his final lap time for track limits too, communicate the stewards. That now means Lewis Hamilton is up into third on the grid. Piastri, initially promoted into the top three at his team-mate’s expense, had just staged his top-three interview in parc ferme before being informed. Piastri will sixth and Norris 10th, with Charles Leclerc in fifth place for the Maranello team.
After those rather late calls from the stewards on the deletion of the McLaren drivers’ final Q3 laps, here’s how the top 10 on the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix now stands.
A good day for Max Verstappen – yet again – but a surprisingly strong one for Mercedes too up in second and third.
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) George Russell, Mercedes
3) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
4) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
5) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
6) Oscar Piastri, McLaren
7) Pierre Gasly, Alpine
8) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
9) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
10) Lando Norris, McLaren