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Magnussen takes sensational pole as Russell crashes out amid rain chaos
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Magnussen takes sensational pole as Russell crashes out amid rain chaos

Magnussen takes sensational pole as Russell crashes out amid rain chaos

Magnussen takes sensational pole as Russell crashes out amid rain chaos

Magnussen takes sensational pole as Russell crashes out amid rain chaos

Kevin Magnussen took a sensational pole position for the São Paulo Grand Prix as rain and a crash from George Russell played into the hands of the Dane.

In his 140th race, Magnussen will lead away the field for the first time in his F1 career for the sprint at Interlagos, sparking unbridled scenes of joy from the Dane and his Haas team.

Intermittent rain throughout the qualifying hour contributed to a remarkable session, and led to Russell beaching his Mercedes in a gravel trap midway through Q3, and with it a red flag.

It was at that point the rain started to fall again, so when the session resumed there was no opportunity for any of the other nine drivers to beat Magnussen's time

Magnussen will be joined on the front row by Red Bull's Max Verstappen, with Russell third, followed by McLaren's Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari.

Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso start sixth and seventh ahead of Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes, Red Bull's Sergio Perez and then Charles Leclerc, who starts 10th following another major strategic gaffe from Ferrari.

It was a qualifying session spiced up by the rain which had fallen shortly after the sole practice run earlier in the day that started in temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius, but dropped by six degrees for the one-lap showdown.

It resulted in all the drivers starting qualifying on intermediate tyres but as any further rain abated and a dry line appeared, softs were required midway through Q1.

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly was the first to gamble and after a relatively slow first lap, his second tour was four-tenths of a second quicker than the best on inters that had been set by Hamilton at that stage.

The following lap was 1.5s faster than Hamilton, leading to a stampede into the pits as all the drivers were soon on the red-striped rubber.

The closing minutes saw the positions continually change, although ultimately it was a to-be-expected bottom five for the most part.

Williams' Nicholas Latifi was at least not the slowest, with the soon-to-be-departing Canadian 16th ahead of Alfa Romeo pair Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas.

AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda was a surprise, with the Japanese driver 19th and two seconds slower than team-mate Gasly.

It was a similar story for Haas driver Mick Schumacher who starts at the back of the grid after finishing 2.4s behind team-mate Kevin Magnussen.

With Schumacher's future on the line, it was the worst possible time for him to produce one of his poorest qualifying performances of the season.

For Q2, a light sprinkling of rain with a few minutes remaining threw a spanner in the works for a number of drivers, with Hamilton only scraping through by a tenth of a second following a scrappy session.

The fall guys were Williams' Alex Albon, who will start 11th ahead of Gasly and Aston Martin duo Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll who sandwich Daniel Ricciardo in his McLaren, the Australian eight-tenths behind Lando Norris.

For the top-10 shoot-out, Ferrari took a major punt by sending Leclerc out on inters with the threat of further rain looming but with the other nine looking to set a banker lap on softs.

But it backfired spectacularly as after two laps, Ferrari were forced to pit Leclerc for soft tyres.

As Leclerc embarked on a hot lap, Russell caught a white line on the approach to the sweeping turn-four left-hander, sending him bouncing across the gravel.

As Russell emerged out of the stones, he spun on a Tarmac strip and ended up beaching his W13, sparking a red flag.

At that stage, Magnussen was on provisional pole position, and when informed over the radio, his response was priceless.

"You are f***ing kidding me," said Magnussen. "I have never felt like this in my life. Don't celebrate yet."

Magnussen did not have to wait long for Russell's car to be retrieved and the session to be resumed, but with the conditions ensuring he was polesitter.

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