Engine deficit, tire struggles leave Red Bull off the pace in Brazil

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Red Bull was left to settle for fifth and sixth in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix as drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo struggled with a straight-line speed deficit, forcing them to overwork their tires and fade in the closing stages of the race.

Verstappen qualified fourth at Interlagos and was able to stick with the leading trio of Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen through the opening stint, only to drop back after switching to the soft compound tire.

Red Bull’s performance deficit with its Renault engine compared to its Mercedes and Ferrari-powered rivals forced Verstappen to push hard through the middle sector in a bid to make up time, punishing his tires in the process.

The Dutchman was unable to fend off the recovering Lewis Hamilton as he rose up the order, leaving him P5 at the checkered flag.

“To manage the tires was really hard. It was the hardest race for us in terms of tire management this year, it didn’t click,” Verstappen told NBCSN after the race.

“We were OK the first few laps, but slower straight line speed. You saw how easy Lewis got us. We’ll see what we can do there.”

Teammate Ricciardo had a more eventful race, starting 14th after a grid penalty before getting caught up in a clash with Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne at Turn 2.

Ricciardo was able to escape the shunt without any major damage, eventually recovering to P6 at the checkered flag, albeit without putting pressure on the leading quintet as he too struggled with his tires.

“In Turn 2, I knew it’d be tight, but I figured start was a good chance to do something,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“I tried to do something then felt a bit of a hit. I was worried I had damage. But seemed OK, Iame into the pits to change it.

“We didn’t have as much fun as Lewis. But relatively a good race. I made the move pretty quick.

“At first we pushed then it looked like the tires were getting hot. The team was worried. We were able to push. I’d done all the pushing I could.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III