Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), leader of the World Championship, took pole position in the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix on Saturday, his fourth in six races this season.
On the Barcelona-Catalonia circuit in Montmelo, he will start on Sunday alongside the Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull), his rival in the general classification, victim of a mechanical problem at the end of qualifying.
“I couldn't do my last lap but being on the front line (…) is good. Obviously, I would have liked to go for the pole”, reacted the reigning world champion.
On Leclerc's side, it was rather luck that smiled: having made a mistake during the last portion (Q3) of qualifying, the Scuderia driver only completed one fast lap to finally come and sign the better time.
Under temperatures exceeding 34 degrees in the air and 45 degrees on the track, the Spaniard Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), still in search of the first pole position of his career, signs the third fastest time, ahead of the Briton George Russell (Mercedes).
Mexican Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) and Briton Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) complete the third row.
The French Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) snatch the 12th and 14th times. Earlier in the day, the AlphaTauri driver had not recorded any time during the last free practice session due to his engine overheating at the start of the session.
On the Catalan track, an unmissable event on the calendar and the scene of winter testing since 2014 (except in 2021), this round was the perfect opportunity for several teams to make improvements, like McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes or Aston Martin, which has drawn the wrath of Red Bull for the resemblance of its single-seater to the very powerful RB18.
The two drivers from the British team, the German Sebastian Vettel and the Canadian Lance Stroll, were however eliminated at the start of qualifying, in Q1, and will start 16th and 18th respectively on Sunday.
In front of his home crowd, Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Alpine) was also eliminated in Q1, 17th between the two Aston Martins.
The Quebecer Lance Stroll did not pass Q1 and obtained the 18th position.