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Leclerc takes pole in Belgium as Ferrari lock out front row

Hamilton 3rd, Bottas 4th

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By Olivier Ferret

31 August 2019 - 16:24
Leclerc takes pole in Belgium as (...)

Charles Leclerc beat team-mate Sebastian Vettel by seven tenths of a second to claim pole position for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix as Ferrari locked out the front row ahead of Mercedes at Spa-Francorchamps.

Quickest across the first two qualifying segments, Leclerc stretched the gap back to his rivals in the final top-10 shoot-out to claim his third career pole with a lap of 1:42.519, a massive 0.748s ahead of Vettel who chiefly lost out to his young team-mate in the middle sector of the 7km circuit.

Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, recovered from a crash in FP3 to claim third place on the grid ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.

Q1 was red-flagged after five minutes as Robert Kubica’s Williams suffered a smoke PU failure that left him stranded at the side of the track. The session was immediately halted.

After a 10-minute delay the action resumed and at the end of the opening session it was Leclerc who sat in top spot with a time of 1:43.587, half a second clear of Vettel.

Verstappen took third place in the segment but it was touch and go for the Dutchman, who prior to the final runs was outside the 107% margin after struggling with his car’s handling in the early stages of the session.

In the final run he was quick over the first sector, but then spent the rest of what was a crucial run threading his way through a stream of traffic. The trickle of slower cars became a river at the end of the lap, but Verstappen eventually crossed the line in 1:44.622 to take P3.

The session was then red-flagged for a second time when smoke jetted from the back of Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo and he pulled over on the run down to Eau Rouge.

With just 43 seconds left on the clock, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly was eliminated in P16 ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, the second Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat and the Williams cars of George Russell and Robert Kubica.

Leclerc again set the pace in Q2, taking P1 with a first run of 1:43.376 that left him a little over a tenth of a second clear of Vettel. Mercedes rose to third and fourth, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Hamilton and that left fifth place for Max, who set an opening Q2 time of 1:44.132.

Leclerc then lowered the benchmark to1:42.938 to seal P1 with a tenth of a second in hand over Vettel. The German meanwhile was half a second clear of Hamilton with Bottas a further four tenths back.

Eliminated at the end of Q2 were 11thplaced Romain Grosjean of Haas followed by McLaren’s Lando Norris, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, Red Bull’s Alex Albon and Giovinazzi.

There was no denying Leclerc in the final session either. The Ferrari driver went quickest in the first runs with a time of 1:42.644 as Max posted an opening time of 1:44.239 to slot into P5 behind Hamilton, Vettel and Bottas.

The Dutchman improved by a whopping half a second on the final run, but as they have been all weekend Ferrari were untouchable, and Leclerc claimed pole position with a small improvement to 1:42.519. Vettel completed the Ferrari front-row lock-out, seven tenths of a second further back while Mercedes annexed the second row ahead with Hamilton third ahead of Bottas.

That left Max as the session’s fifth fastest man and he’ll start from the front of row three tomorrow, ahead of the Renaults of Ricciardo and Hulkenberg, the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Räikkönen, Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.

Pos.DriverTeamQ1 timeQ2 timeQ3 time
01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF90 1:43.587 1:42.938 1:42.519
02 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF90 1:44.109 1:43.037 1:43.267
03 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W10 1:45.260 1:43.592 1:43.282
04 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W10 1:45.141 1:43.980 1:43.415
05 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB15 1:44.622 1:44.132 1:43.690
06 Daniel Ricciardo Renault RS19 1:45.560 1:44.103 1:44.257
07 Nico Hülkenberg Renault RS19 1:45.899 1:44.549 1:44.542
08 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 1:45.842 1:44.140 1:44.557
09 Sergio Pérez Racing Point Mercedes RP19 1:45.732 1:44.707 1:44.706
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-19 1:45.839 1:44.738 1:45.086
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
11 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari VF-19 1:45.694 1:44.797
12 Lando Norris McLaren Renault MCL34 1:46.154 1:44.847
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes RP19 1:46.000 1:45.047
14 Alex Albon Red Bull Honda RB15 1:45.528 1:45.799
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 1:45.637 -:—.---
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:46.435
17 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault MCL34 1:46.507
18 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:46.518
19 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW42 1:47.548
20 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes FW42 -:—.---

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