Leclerc takes Spanish Grand Prix pole as Verstappen experiences issues

Leclerc takes Spanish Grand Prix pole as Verstappen experiences issues

Charles Leclerc secured his fourth pole position of the season with a great closing lap during qualifying for Formula 1’s Spanish Grand Prix.

After a mistake via the chicane, Leclerc was running in the bottom ten after the first Q3 push laps but on his second push lap, though, Leclerc blitzed to the front of the field with a time of 1:18.750s.

That performance put him three tenths of a second ahead of defending World Champion Max Verstappen and gave Ferrari its first pole at the Circuit of Barcelona-Catalunya since 2008.

Carlos Sainz will start tomorrow’s race from third, sharing the second row with George Russell, whose strong performance this weekend secured Mercedes’ return to contention.

At the end of Q1, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso both failed to make the cut, while Mclaren’s Lando Norris had his quickest Q2 lap time removed due to track limits violations. He didn’t make it to the final round as a result, and had to settle for P11 on Sunday’s grid.

On Saturday, the sun-drenched paddock at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was scorching, with temperatures reaching 34 degrees Celsius in the air and 47 degrees Celsius on the track. 

Pierre Gasly’s car went up in flames in the AlphaTauri garage early in final practice, as well as Mick Schumacher’s dramatic rear brake fire on the Haas, had already been too hot to handle. During the break, both teams worked diligently to repair the cars in time for qualifying to begin.

The increasing temperatures were more figurative elsewhere as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc may have swept all three practice sessions, but Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was only 0.072s behind, and Mercedes’ George Russell continued to herald a rebirth just 0.076s further back. When it came to qualifying, it was evident that the battle for pole position was still too close to call.

Mercedes’ nine-year pole position streak in Spain came to an end, although the defending champions showed signs of improvement as Red Bull’s  Sergio Perez split fourth and sixth place qualifiers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas continued his good qualifying form for Alfa Romeo, finishing seventh as  Haas earned its first double Q3 appearance since 2019 despite electing not to update its VF-22. Kevin Magnussen finished eighth, with Mick Schumacher and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo closing out the top ten.

Lando Norris was pushed out of the top 10 in the final stages of Q2 after his final push lap was deleted due to track limits being exceeded.

Norris had improved on his last effort, but he was judged to have abused the track limits through Turn 12 and was dropped to 11th position as a result.

It was a disappointing day for Alpine as Esteban Ocon finished 12th, while AlphaTauri also struggled.  Yuki Tsunoda finished 13th, while Pierre Gasly finished 14th after missing the last practice session due to a power unit issue. Alfa Romeo’s lone rookie, Zhou Guanyu, finished 15th.

During the build-up, Aston Martin drew notice with its revised AMR22, which resembled Red Bull’s front-running RB18. The significant upgrade, however, failed to turn Aston Martin’s fortunes around, as neither Sebastian Vettel nor Lance Stroll made it into Q1.

Vettel qualified 16th, while Stroll qualified 18th, only a second behind Williams’ Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi.

Fernando Alonso had a terrible day as well. As he prepared for his final push lap, Alonso was shuffled down to the Q1 drop zone and then met traffic on his out-lap.

Stewards looked at the situation briefly but decided that no further action was necessary. Alonso later finished 17th after failing to improve on his final push lap.

2022 Spanish Grand Prix – Qualifying results

1Charles LeclercFerrari1:19.861s1:19.969s1:18.750s
2Max VerstappenRed Bull1:20.091s1:19.219s1:19.073s
3Carlos SainzFerrari1:19.892s1:19.453s1:19.166s
4George RussellMercedes1:20.218s1:19.470s1:19.393s
5Sergio PérezRed Bull1:20.447s1:19.830s1:19.420s
6Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:20.252s1:19.794s1:19.512s
7Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo1:20.355s1:20.053s1:19.608s
8Kevin MagnussenHaas1:20.227s1:19.810s1:19.682s
9Daniel RicciardoMcLaren1:20.549s1:20.287s1:20.297s
10Mick SchumacherHaas1:20.683s1:20.436s1:20.368s
11Lando NorrisMcLaren1:20.838s1:20.471s
12Esteban OconAlpine1:20.880s1:20.638s
13Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri1:20.707s1:20.639s
14Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri1:20.719s1:20.861s
15Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo1:20.476s1:21.094s
16Sebastian VettelAston Martin1:20.954s
17Fernando AlonsoAlpine1:21.043s
18Lance StrollAston Martin1:21.418s
19Alexander AlbonWilliams1:21.645s
20Nicholas LatifiWilliams1:21.915s

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