Kevin Magnussen got his first sensational career pole position in Formula 1, in his 100th race for the Haas team, in Friday’s qualifying for the sprint race at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
The Dane was fastest before George Russell ran his Mercedes into the gravel at Interlagos, bringing out the red flags with eight minutes left and the weather deteriorating.
There was no chance of anyone else going faster than Magnussen’s time of 1 minute, 11.674 seconds.
He said, “I don’t know what to say.”
“The team put me on the right track at exactly the right moment. We were the first out of the pitlane and we did a good lap and we’re in pole position. It’s unbelievable.”
Two-time Red Bull world champion Max Verstappen will join Magnussen on the front row for Saturday’s sprint race at Interlagos while Russell still qualified third.
“You’re kidding,” a shocked Magnussen said over the team radio when told he was fastest when the red flags waved. “
He didn’t have to wait long, as the team garage erupted with joy at the end of the session and Magnussen got out of his parked car to hug jubilant manager Gunther Steiner and his crew.
Depending on the race format, the driver who sets the fastest qualifying lap on Friday claims pole position in the record books even if Sunday’s Grand Prix does not start from the front of the grid.
This final grid is decided by Saturday’s 100km sprint race, which also awards points for the top eight places.
Saturday will be the third sprint of the season, with Verstappen winning the previous two championships at Imola and Austria.
The hour-long session started in wet conditions after a light drizzle with the drivers going out on intermediate tires and then switching to slicks as the track dried and the rain stopped.
McLaren’s Lando Norris, who qualified fourth, was fastest on that hectic first stage – 0.297 faster than Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who went from deep in the danger zone to the summit with the last fly attempt.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton will start eighth.
Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, Alfa’s Gwenyo Zou and Yuki Tsunoda and Haas’ Mick Schumacher all failed to reach the second stage.
The sky turned a dark gray and rain returned during the second stage, with Verstappen leading the timesheets ahead of Sainz and Leclerc.
Leclerc started the final stage as the only driver on the intermediates – a baffling gamble on the spot rain that failed and meant he had to pit for the light stuff before he could set up a time.
Mongasque will launch on the 10th of Saturday.
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