Here is our full text transcpript from the Qatar Sprint Shootout, which took place at the Lusail International Circuit on Saturday afternoon:
Following analysis of the tyres used on Friday in what was meant to be the sole practice session of the Sprint event in Qatar, there were concerns from Pirelli over the impact the Losail International Circuit’s ‘pyramid’ kerbs are having.
In an attempt to reduce the impact, track limits at Turns 12-13 have been revised, and an extra 10-minute ‘practice familiarisation’ ahead of the Sprint Shootout on Saturday has been added to allow drivers time to adjust to the changes. Depending on the results of the analysis from the 19-lap Sprint later on Saturday, the FIA says it could enforce a three pit stop rule for Sunday’s 57-lap race, along with a maximum limit of 20 full laps run on a single set of new tyres.
That’s the official name for this extra 10-minute practice session. The drivers will all be out there to test the new Turn 12 and 13 corners which have been tightened. This is unexpected and feels a bit unusual, so here we go with this extra practice session.
All 20 of the drivers on track to get a look at the corner changes. Most on the soft compound, with a handful on the mediums. Lap times very much don’t matter here, but for reference Max Verstappen is fastest already on a 1:27.0.
Chequered flag: There we go then. Not much happened in those 10 minutes and it’s a familiar name at the top in Max Verstappen. Charles Leclerc is second and Esteban Ocon is third.
The Sprint Shootout will follow the same three-session knockout format as usual qualifying, but each Q1, Q2 and Q3 segment has been shortened to address engine and tyre concerns the teams had.
SQ1 has been shortened from 18 minutes to 12 minutes.
SQ2 has been shortened from 15 minutes to 10 minutes.
SQ3 has been shortened from 12 minutes to eight minutes.
Show your support for Scuderia Ferrari with official merchandise collection! Click here to enter the F1 online Store and shop securely! And also get your F1 tickets for every race with VIP hospitality and unparalleled insider access. Click here for the best offers to support Charles and Carlos from the track!
The aim is that each car would only have one flying lap in each session, although two runs could be done in SQ1 while SQ2 and SQ3 would allow time for two timed laps without a pitstop in between attempts.
The other significant difference between the Sprint Shootout and regular qualifying will be restrictions on tyre usage.
While teams are free to use any of their available tyres in regular qualifying, in the Sprint Shootout new sets of medium tyres will be mandatory in SQ1 and SQ2. In SQ3, drivers must run soft tyres but they do not have to be a new set.
Away we go for SQ1. This session is just 12 minutes and five drivers will be eliminated at the end of it.
8 mins to go in SQ1: The first drivers already into their opening SQ1 out laps, with the Ferraris to post their times first. Charles Leclerc, rather like yesterday, is rather faster than team-mate Carlos Sainz to set an initial pace. But both are beaten by McLaren’s Lando Norris and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez. George Russell asks his engineer if he should do an extra warm-up lap. His engineer says “we will let you know” but Russell wants to know now. It looks like Russell is on a push lap straight away. George Russell does go fastest, despite running slightly wide at Turn 5. It looks like he stays within track limits though, his car was just over the edge of the kerb. Pierre Gasly is in second from Lando Norris.
5 mins to go in SQ1: Wowzers – that’s quick from Max Verstappen relative to everyone else so far! A 1:25.510 puts him nearly nine tenths clear of Russell and third-placed Gasly. A couple of seconds away from his pole yesterday, but that was on soft tyres too with more grip down and later in the day too. Norris gets within a couple tenths of Verstappen and Piastri jumps into third – strong pace from the McLarens yet again.
2 mins to go in SQ1: Lewis Hamilton was fourth but his lap is deleted. Track limits is a big problem and there have been at least 10 lap deletions already. Hamilton is 11th, so may need to improve. George Russell splits the McLarens in third. Charles Leclerc also has a lap deleted and is on the bubble in 15th. He definitely needs to improve to be safe. Everyone apart from Norris and Verstappen are on track. The Monegasque driver was pushed into the drop zone but rescues his Sprint Shootout by going 10th. Logan Sargeant is definitely out. Some more cars need to cross the line…
Drivers out on SQ1: Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Alex Albon (Williams), Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Kevin Magnussen (Williams), Logan Sargeant (Alfa Romeo). It was the Mercedes driver – who has already secured a front-row start for Sunday’s Grand Prix, remember – who ended up fastest in SQ1. His late 1:25.413 time put him a tenth up on Max Verstappen and two tenths up on Lando Norris. However, Max only completed one flying lap…
Short turnaround for the teams as we are already green for SQ2. The track temperature is cooling and it’s medium tyres that are mandatory again. This session is 10 minutes. Sergio Perez followed by Max Verstappen posts the fastest time so far in turn as the Red Bulls hit the front. Lewis Hamilton did go second briefly but quickly had his opening effort ruled out for track limits. It was the reconfigured Turn 13 that did for Lewis. So Hamilton must go again to post a time to be sure of the final session. George Russell sixth in the other Mercedes at the moment.
5 mins to go in SQ2: Lando Norris is going very well here as he beats Max Verstappen by a quarter of a second. The McLaren looks very sharp in the high-speed corners. Hamilton moves up to seventh but is pushed down by Alonso, so is now eighth. The Ferrari drivers are yet to set a flying lap too… Carlos Sainz is only 10th for now and isn’t completely safe. Charles Leclerc is faring better in the other Ferrari in fourth though.
Chequered flag: That lap deletion if very costly for Lewis Hamilton because Carlos Sainz knocks him out of the Sprint Shootout. Thankfully the Ferrari driver makes it to Q3 and takes out Hamilton in the process. Nico Hulkenberg put in a great lap to go ninth for Haas. Meanwhile at the front, Lando Norris’ earlier time was good enough to be quickest and he could give Max Verstappen a serious run for his money in SQ3. George Russell was second, so there was definitely pace in the Mercedes this afternoon, Hamilton just couldn’t find the time compared to his team-mate.
Verstappen has been sitting at the end of the pit lane for two minutes, perhaps trying to cool the tyres down and bring the tyre pressures down too. He leads the Ferrari drivers out of the pit lane. We are all set for a Verstappen vs Norris shootout in the next eight minutes. So it’s one Mercedes left and it’s George Russell who carries their hopes in SQ3. With one front row already in the bag this weekend, he is certainly in a good groove around Losail at the moment.
6 mins to go in SQ3: Five drivers are on the track and five are in the garage, including Lando Norris. Max Verstappen is about to set the benchmark time, let’s see what he can do. It’s a 1:24.543 from Max Verstappen but he has his lap time deleted for track limits at Turn 5. What an opportunity for everyone else.
2 mins to go in SQ3: With Max not yet with a quick lap, the McLarens have moved to the front for now with Norris just ahead of Piastri on a 1:24.536. Both Norris and Piastri should have time for one more lap apiece too. Sergio Perez is third, with Carlos Sainz fourth and Max Verstappen fifth. The rest of the top five are going for one flier only to try and secure their best grid spot. All to play for still!
Chequered flag: George Russell goes third as Sergio Perez has his latest lap deleted. Oscar Piastri beats Lando Norris’ time by 0.082s and takes Sprint Shootout pole! Max Verstappen can’t beat either of the McLarens’ times on what proved his only flying lap that counted. Max Verstappen will start the Sprint Race later today from third from George Russell and Fernando Alonso. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc are sixth and seventh, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon