BERCELONA – Ferrari’s Formula One leader Charles Leclerc performed under pressure to return from a spin with a stunning lap that sent him to 10th in the pole position for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The main rival and current world champion Max Verstappen, who was about to take the top slot for the Red Bull, had to settle for second place after wasting his final effort due to a late loss of speed in the Circuit de Catalunya.
Leclerc’s lap of one minute 18.750 seconds was faster than the best of Worcester at three tenths of a second, and the top two continue to fight what has been discussed this season.
“I had (some) moments in my lap but in the end I stuck to it and I’m very happy with the position of the pole,” Leclerc said.
Ferrari’s home hero Carlos Senz finished third, but 0.416 slower than Leclerc, Jorge Russell is enjoying his best Saturday ever promotion with a fourth slot for a revived Mercedes team.
Russell’s teammate and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton finished sixth behind Sergio Perez of the Red Bulls. The British have won the last five Spanish Grand Prix and won a total of six but that race seems to be over now.
The pole was fourth in Leclerc’s six runs and second in a row.
Worstapen, who has won the last two races to close out the championship gap by 19 points, complained on the radio of a problem at the moment.
“I could not make my last run. I had a DRS (the drag reduction system that didn’t open) or I just lost power, so it’s a bit of a shame, “said the Dutch driver, who won his first Formula One circuit in 2016.
“It simply came to our notice then. However, of course, I would have preferred to run that final.
Team boss Christian Horner later confirmed a DRS problem and said the engine was OK.
Senz, who has yet to win Formula One but will be elated by the able-bodied crowd after two years of epidemic-related restrictions, said everything was still possible.
“The situation was not the easiest with the heat, the wind, but today we were able to put in a decent lap which means we can fight tomorrow,” he said.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was ready to rise to the top 10 but his best lap time was erased in the second session to cross the track line, which led to Laugh’s Mick Schumacher jumping to 10th.
Schumacher’s teammate Kevin Magnussen will start eighth, McLaren’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo ninth.
Despite an eye-catching update package accusing Red Bull of copying, both Aston Martins went to the first hurdle.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel is 16th and Canadian teammate Matt Lance Stroll, son of billionaire owner Lawrence, is 18th.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, the only Spaniard to have won his home race, will start a disappointing 17th day for the Renault-owned Alpine.
The winner of Circuit de Catalunya came from pole position 23 times in 31 races.
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