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Leclerc on pole for Spanish Grand Prix as Verstappen hits trouble

Sainz 3rd, Russell 4th

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By Olivier Ferret

21 May 2022 - 17:07
Leclerc on pole for Spanish Grand (...)

Formula 1 championship leader Charles recovered from a spin on his first run of Q3 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to post blistering final flying lap of 1:18.750 to claim pole position for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen who suffered a power loss at the start of his final lap. Carlos Sainz will start his home grand prix from third place on the grid alongside Mercedes’ George Russell.

In Q1, Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu got things underway with a time of 1:21.065. After missing out on final practice due to a fire caused by a failed heat shield, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly slotted into second with a lap of 1:22.022, but then Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez put in the first truly representative time with a lap of 1:20.447.

As Pérez crossed the line, Verstappen got a useful tow from his team-mate as he started his first flying lap. But while he set impressive times in the first two sectors he ran slightly wide in Turn 10 and then caught traffic in the final third. Despite the difficulties he took P1 with a lap of 1:20.091.

Sainz then moved to the top of the order with a lap of 1:19.892 but he was soon demoted by Leclerc. Russell and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton then slotted into fourth and fifth respectively ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas as Pérez dropped to P7.

Pérez’s second attempt was then ruined by a mistake in Turn 7 that saw him go off into the gravel trap, though he managed to get back to the Red Bull garage.

And when the final lap times were posted, the Mexican only dropped one place more, with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen jumping to fifth place. Eliminated after the first segment were 16th-placed Sebastian Vettel in the heavily upgraded Aston Martin, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, the second Aston of Lance Stroll and the Williams cars of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi.

At the start of Q2 it was the Mercedes drivers, on new soft tyres, who set the pace, with Russell setting a P1 time of 1:19.470, three tenths ahead of Hamilton and Pérez, who also went out on new tyres. Leclerc finished fourth on used tyres and Verstappen, also on used Pirellis, took sixth behind Bottas.

The Mercedes drivers and Leclerc stayed in pit lane for the final runs and that allowed Verstappen to claim top spot with a lap of 1:19.219. Sainz took second place while Russell and Hamilton ended up third and fourth ahead of the impressive Magnussen who again claimed fifth.

There was disappointment for McLaren’s Lando Norris. The Briton jumped into the top 10 with this final lap but almost immediately it was deleted for a track limits infringement at Turn 12. Norris dropped to 11th and that boosted Mick Schumacher into Q3 for the second time this season. Eliminated behind Norris were Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, the AlphaTauri cars of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly and, in 15th place, Zhou Guanyu.

In the first runs of Q3 it was Verstappen who set the pace, with the Dutchman setting a tough benchmark of 1:19.073 to sit 0.350s clear of Sainz. Leclerc, though, failed to set a time in the opening runs. The Monegasque driver spun in Turn 14 and headed straight back to the pit lane to prepare for his crucial second run. Pérez took third in the opening runs ahead of Russell and Hamilton with Bottas sixth ahead of Ricciardo, Magnussen and Schumacher.

In the final runs, Leclerc was first out, looking for a clear run and the Ferrari driver made the most of the opportunity, crossing the line ahead of the pack in 1:18.750. Whether Verstappen could have beaten that time remains open to question. As soon as the Dutchman began his final flyer he slowed in the middle of Turn 3 and reported a loss of power. He was told to box, but still in P2 he headed to the grid alongside polesitter Leclerc, the position he will occupy for tomorrow’s race.

Third place in Q3 went to Sainz who finished two tenths ahead of Russell. Pérez is set to start from the front of row three, ahead of Hamilton, while Bottas qualified sixth ahead of Magnussen, Ricciardo and Schumacher.

Pos.DriverTeamQ1 timeQ2 timeQ3 time
01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 1:19.861 1:19.969 1:18.750
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:20.091 1:19.219 1:19.073
03 Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1-75 1:19.892 1:19.453 1:19.166
04 George Russell Mercedes W13 1:20.218 1:19.470 1:19.393
05 Sergio Perez Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:20.447 1:19.830 1:19.420
06 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 1:20.252 1:19.794 1:19.512
07 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:20.355 1:20.053 1:19.608
08 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:20.227 1:19.810 1:19.682
09 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:20.549 1:20.287 1:20.297
10 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:20.683 1:20.436 1:20.368
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
11 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:20.838 1:20.471
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A522 1:20.880 1:20.638
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:20.707 1:20.639
14 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:20.719 1:20.861
15 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:20.476 1:21.094
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
16 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:20.954
17 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A522 1:21.043
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:21.418
19 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW44 1:21.645
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW44 1:21.915

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