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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Kevin Magnussen Secures First Formula 1 Pole in Dramatic Sao Paulo GP

The pole position will enable Kevin Magnussen to start at the top of the grid for the sprint at Interlagos

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Aditya Saikrishna
Aditya Saikrishna
I am 21 years old and an avid Motorsports enthusiast.

BRAZIL. Sao Paulo: The 30-year-old Kevin Magnussen set the fastest time in the Q3 session of the Sao Paulo GP on the eve of team owner Gene Haas’s 70th birthday to take pole position at Interlagos for the Sao Paulo GP. The session was effectively over after the first run when George Russell spun into the gravel and caused a red flag.

The pole position will enable Kevin Magnussen to start at the top of the grid for the sprint at Interlagos who frequently struggles to pass Q1 in Formula 1. He starts ahead of Max Verstappen, the double Formula 1 World Champion, and George Russell because no one could go faster after his accident as the rain got heavier.

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Magnussen was still seated in the car when Haas confirmed his pole. The driver wildly celebrated in the garage, banging his fists on the vehicle in what is likely the biggest F1 qualifying surprise in many years.

It was a significant shift from the first qualifying session of the Sao Paulo GP when Sergio Perez beat Charles Leclerc by four-thousandths of a second. However, that was before the rain started to fall in Sao Paulo. Before qualifying, the rain was at its highest point, but it had subsided when the cars left the pit lane.

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As the Interlagos track was damp, intermediate tires were the preferred tires at first. Ferrari informed their driver Charles Leclerc that rain was expected in ten minutes as he exited the pits. In such conditions, putting in a quick banker lap in the first minutes of the session was crucial to get out of Q1.

The race director enabled DRS for the first time in Q2, and rain was predicted on the radar but not at the circuit. Lando Norris, coming back from a bout of food poisoning and had been fastest in Q1, was at the top once again. 

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Alex Albon put Williams up in the top five on the first runs. Being at the right place and at the right time seemed crucial for the drivers as the track ramped up.

Although Sainz moved up to P2 at the right time and Kevin Magnussen made an unexpected appearance in the Haas in Q3, the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell appeared to have the last favourable conditions at the tricky conditions witnessed during the Friday running of Sao Paulo GP.

The weather was going to be everything in the race for the sprint pole. As Q3 lights turned green, the sky was getting darker. Nine of the ten cars lined up on slicks, with Leclerc on intermediates. Ferrari seemed to have got it right for their premier driver, but the forecasted rain came a bit too late for the Monegasque. 

Leclerc set his first timed qualy lap in drier track conditions, and when he pitted for slicks, he could not set a proper lap as George Russell breached his car in the gravel trap at turn 4. Red flags came out as a result of the incident, and soon after, the heavens opened up at the Interlagos, effectively ending the qualification session of the Sao Paulo GP.

Kevin Magnussen, who was able to put in the fastest lap of the session before the red flags came out, took the provisional pole. Once DRS was disabled after the track became wet, the first pole position was guaranteed for the Dane and his Haas Formula 1 team, sparking jubilant celebrations from the garage. 

Also Read: Formula 1 Braces for Rains at Interlagos ahead of Sao Paulo GP

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