Leclerc takes sensational pole ahead of Verstappen and Sainz

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Championship leader Charles Leclerc set an inspiring time to top the qualifying session for the Spanish Grand Prix, beating his championship rival Max Verstappen and his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz.

Home hero Alonso knocked out - Q1

The qualifying session started slowly as drivers were waiting in the garages, being aware of the fact that the tyres only allow a single hot lap in the sunny and extremely hot conditions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The top drivers joined the action after a few drivers registered their first laps in the session. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez posted a 1m20.447s to fly to the top of the session. His teammate Max Verstappen managed to beat that time by four tenths of a second, but the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz quickly beat the reigning world champion’s benchmark with the Monegasque setting a time of 1m19.861s.

Eliminated were Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll, Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi. Alonso was surely left disappointed getting stuck in traffic in the warm-up lap to his second attempt as many others were close to missing the flag to start their laps as well.

Russell shines with the updated W13 - Q2

Mercedes shocked their rivals with their hot laps at the beginning of the second qualifying session as Russell clocked a 1m19.470s with his team mate Hamilton three tenths of a second adrift. However, Mercedes sent their drivers on a new set of red-walled soft Pirelli on to the hot asphalt of the 4.6km Barcelona-Catalunya circuit whereas the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers were on a used set of softs on their initial stint.

When Sainz and Verstappen reappeared on a shiny new set of Pirellis for the final minutes of the session, the Spaniard beat Russell's benchmark. However, it did not last long as Verstappen set a new benchmark at his last attempt in Q2. Championship leader Leclerc took a big gamble and refused to rejoin the track action, saving a new set of softs for the 66-lap Spanish Grand Prix.

As Leclerc didn't really get into a troubling situation and comfortably made it through, both Haas drivers made a considerable improvement and made it through into the final section of qualifying. It wasn't without a bit of antics though as Schumacher only moved into 10th when McLaren's Lando Norris' best laptime got deleted due to exceeding track limits at Turn 12.

Eye-catching performance from Leclerc

After refusing to use a fresh set of Pirelli tyres in the second qualifying session, Leclerc was adamant to show his ultimate pace in Q3. The Monegasque was quick through the first two sectors, but made a crucial mistake in the last sector when he span around with his Ferrari SF-75. The championship leader could recover his car, but needed to limp back to the pits.

In the meantime, Verstappen did what he had to and lapped Circuit de Catalunya in 1m19.073s which was the best laptime thus far this weekend. Carlos Sainz managed P2 after the first runs with Perez, Russell and Hamilton taking the spots behind.

Leclerc thus found himself under high pressure after that first failed attempt. The conditions seemed to work to his favour as the next lap was error-free and lightning quick. Leclerc nearly matched Verstappen's first sector and went on to get an advantage from the second and third sectors, completing a lap in 1m18.750s.

The others had no answer and Verstappen was unable to properly have another go as a power loss forced him to abort his second flying lap. Carlos Sainz was more than three tenths down on his teammate in third. George Russell managed a brilliant P4 for Mercedes, beating Perez and Hamilton.

Despite missing the majority of the second session due to reliability issues, Valtteri Bottas secured a seventh starting place for Alfa Romeo with Kevin Magnussen taking P8 ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher.


116Charles LeclercFerrari1:19.8611:19.9691:18.75012
21Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:20.0911:19.2191:19.07316
355Carlos SainzFerrari1:19.8921:19.4531:19.16616
463George RussellMercedes1:20.2181:19.4701:19.39314
511Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:20.4471:19.8301:19.42017
644Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:20.2521:19.7941:19.51215
777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:20.3551:20.0531:19.60818
820Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:20.2271:19.8101:19.68218
93Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:20.5491:20.2871:20.29715
1047Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:20.6831:20.4361:20.36818
114Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:20.8381:20.47112
1231Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:20.8801:20.6389
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt1:20.7071:20.63915
1410Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt1:20.7191:20.86115
1524Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:20.4761:21.09415
165Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:20.9546
1714Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:21.0435
1818Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:21.4186
1923Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:21.6456
206Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:21.9159