Spanish F1 GP: Charles Leclerc takes the 13th pole position of his career

Charles Leclerc took pole position for the Spanish GP race, after an excellent lap on the second attempt, with a time of 1:18.750s. The Monegasque pilot had made a mistake during his first attempt and had failed to score time, ending up with a top. In the closing stages of qualifying, Leclerc placed a Ferrari at the top of the starting grid, something that hadn’t happened at Barcelona since 2008.
Max Verstappen was second on the grid. The Dutchman had provisional pole at the end of the opening laps, but had power problems in the RB18 on the final lap and had to abandon his attempt, leaving Leclerc a bit more comfortable to take pole position.
Carlos Sainz was third fastest and will start alongside George Russell for tomorrow’s race, while Sergio Pérez was only fifth fastest and finished with Lewis Hamilton just behind.
Valtteri Bottas was the best of the “second pack”, beating Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher.

Strong points:
Ferrari starts the race with a slight advantage over Red Bull, but it looks like the fight for victory – under normal conditions – will be between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. The two drivers were once again the strongest and even in difficulty in Q3, they “reserved” the first row of the starting grid in their name. They are one step ahead of everyone.
It’s a bad sign for Carlos Sainz, who insists on being Ferrari’s second driver. If you don’t want to be named second pilot, you have to do more. He was strong in qualifying, not enough, since he was 0.416s behind his teammate.
Mercedes took a step forward. It remains to be seen how they will be in the race, but they are clearly on a different path with the updates in Barcelona and are fighting for the podium. George Russell was again quicker than Lewis Hamilton and beat Sergio Pérez. The Mexican still hasn’t managed to keep pace with his teammate since the second free practice (Jüri Vips was driving the RB18 on the first practice) and will have to overtake Russell to be able to put pressure on Sainz and help Max Verstappen.
Lewis Hamilton was optimistic at the end of the day yesterday, but he repeated his sixth place on the starting grid in Miami. The pace is better, but the result was the same and Russell was beaten again this season.
Valtteri Bottas without problems or misadventures is the favorite pilot of the “second pack”. This time, and with the Mercedes faster than in Miami, he is ahead of Kevin Magnussen. Both drivers are faster than the other opponents and without AlphaTauri around and McLaren without Lando Norris – clearly the driver with better results – were more than half a second ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and the top 10 rookie , Mick Schumacher. Bottas and Magnussen have everything to fight for the best position of the “remainder”, without thinking of the drivers of Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes. The Haas without updates was just 0.9 inches from pole position, proving how good the car really can be.
The big surprise in Q2 was the death of Mick Schumacher and the elimination of Lando Norris. Briton McLaren seemed to have everything to easily enter the top 10, but he exceeded the limits of the track and saw his best record erased. An error that places Schumacher in Q3 for the first time.
In the remaining positions, Fernando Alonso was well below expectations, as well as the AlphaTauri drivers, who still have some problems with the Italian single-seaters to manage.
More was expected from Aston Martin after the “revolution” of the AMR22. Granted, Sebastian Vettel came very close to qualifying for Q2, but compared to the Haas VF-22 without any upgrades, Vettel and Stroll fell far short. They need a good race strategy and good pace to get points.
Williams kept looking normal and unsurprisingly Albon beat Latifi.

Pictures from the qualifying session:

Q1, surprise for Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso
Guanyu Zhou, Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly – who had to change gearboxes as a precaution after the problem in Free Practice 3 – were the first drivers to hit the track for Q1.
Sergio Pérez was the first driver to record a fast lap, still in the second .20, with a time of 1:20.44s. The Mexican caught Max Verstappen in the last sector and helped his teammate, who got into the air cone, for the Dutchman to take the lead in the timesheets with a time of 1:20.091s.
With less than 10 minutes remaining in Q1, Carlos Sainz beat Verstappen’s time and then saw his team-mate climb to the top of the timesheet, with a time of 1:19.861.
An incident in the departure of Lance Stroll and Lando Norris from the box will be investigated after the qualifying session, but the Canadian Aston Martin should not escape a penalty.
After the first fast laps, Alexander Albon, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi were in the elimination zone, while Leclerc led the timesheets, followed by Sainz and Verstappen.
Less than 2 minutes from the end of the first qualifying heat, the drivers are back on the track. Schumacher left the elimination zone, while Fernando Alonso caught traffic on his fast lap and failed to make it into Q2.
Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll and the two Williams drivers were eliminated from Q1, with Alexander Albon ahead of Nicholas Latifi. Vettel was close to moving into Q2, but the gaps between the whole field were very short.

Q2, Lando Norris eliminated for exceeding track limits
The two Mercedes drivers were the first drivers to record times in the second qualifying round, with George Russell breaking Lewis Hamilton’s record with a time of 1:19.470. Both Ferrari drivers and Max Verstappen finished their laps with times well below expectations, but with worn tyres. At the end of the first attempts, it was Russell who led the timesheets, with Hamilton at 0.324s, followed by Pérez, Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas.
In the Q2 elimination zone were Daniel Ricciardo, who struggled a bit in Q1, Esteban Ocon, Guanyu Zhou, Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly.
In the last attempt at Q2, all 15 drivers brought new soft tires in an attempt to qualify for the final qualifying round.
Carlos Sainz topped the timesheets (1:19.453s), while the two AlphaTauri drivers failed to qualify for Q3.
When Max Verstappen moved to the top of the timesheets, the two Haas were able to move into Q3 after Mick Schumacher passed in exchange for Lando Norris, with his fast lap time erased for going over the track limits.
Lando Norris had his lap time erased despite being in the top 10 and was thus eliminated in Q2. Along with Norris, Esteban Ocon, Yuki Tsunoda, Pierre Gasly and Guanyu Zhou were eliminated.

Q3, top of Leclerc and problems for Verstappen
Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, Kevin Magnussen, Sergio Pérez, Charles Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher were in the fight during the qualifying round. It was Mick Schumacher’s first stint in Q3, a milestone for the German who is still looking for the first points of his Formula 1 career.
Carlos Sainz was the first driver to lead the timesheets and when Charles Leclerc was quicker than his team-mate he spun into the chicane before the straight, eliminating his first fast lap attempt and possibly provisional pole position.
Who benefited was Max Verstappen who was on provisional pole with a time of 1:19.073s. He was followed by Sainz, Pérez, Russell and Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas was sixth at the end of the first attempts at fast laps, with Ricciardo and Magnussen in the following places. Mick Schumacher finished ninth and Leclerc tenth, with no time recorded.
During the last attempt to win pole position for the Spanish GP, Max Verstappen had problems with the car. After Charles Leclerc crossed the finish line and set the best lap time, with a canon time of 1:18.750s, Verstappen could not open the DRS and lost his last opportunity to fight for pole. . He was beaten by his direct opponent, while Sainz beat Russell’s time.

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