Leclerc shrugs off Q3 spin to take pole in Spain as technical issue sees Verstappen miss out
Charles Leclerc proved he could handle the heat by overcoming a spin to take pole position for the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix, as a compromised Max Verstappen lost out his own shot at pole.
After Leclerc topped Q1, Verstappen hit back with the fastest time of Q2 – with Mercedes lurking just behind the Ferrari and Red Bull throughout the first two qualifying segments. Leclerc then dramatically spun on his first run in Q3, leaving Verstappen top.
But the championship leader re-emerged to go top with a time of 1m 18.750s, Verstappen storming towards his pole time – before his Red Bull appeared to suffer an issue. The reigning champion lost out by an eventual 0.323s – local hero Carlos Sainz another tenth off in third.
George Russell smashed his first sector to pip Sergio Perez to P4, the Mexican rounding out the top five ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes.
Valtteri Bottas showed strong pace throughout and finished seventh while Kevin Magnussen took eighth – his 10th-placed team mate Mick Schumacher making it to Q3 for the first time – with Daniel Ricciardo in P9 for McLaren between the Haas pair.
FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2022
|1 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari
|2 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing
|3 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari
|4 George Russell RUS Mercedes
|5 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing
Lando Norris had his Q2 lap time deleted for a Turn 12 track limit infringement and ended up 11th, followed by Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and then the AlphaTauris of Yuki Tsunoda and a despondent Pierre Gasly in P13 and P14, respectively. Zhou Guanyu was off the pace in Q2 and could only qualify P15 for Alfa Romeo.
In their heavily upgraded Aston Martins, Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll qualified 16th and 18th, respectively – Vettel having missed out on Q2 by under a tenth.
Between them was Alpine’s home hero Fernando Alonso, the two-time champion a surprise exclusion for Q2 in P17. Williams rounded out the provisional qualifying standings: Alex Albon P19 and Nicholas Latifi P20.
AS IT HAPPENED
Q1 – Ferrari charge into the lead while Alonso endures shock elimination
Conditions were stiflingly hot for qualifying, the sun unrelenting in Spain. Red Bull set their flying efforts first but, Charles Leclerc set the early benchmark with a time of 1m 19.861s – team mate Carlos Sainz just 0.031s back – to drop Max Verstappen to third. Behind Red Bull's Verstappen, by a tenth, was Mercedes’ George Russell and Lewis Hamilton P5 after their opening laps.
After the first runs, the Williams drivers, Haas’s Mick Schumacher, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll were in the drop zone – Daniel Ricciardo sitting on the cusp of elimination in P15 for McLaren.
Improvements across the board dropped Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel down to P16 – losing out on 15th-place Esteban Ocon by 0.074s, while Fernando Alonso was a surprising P17 at home, 0.163s off safety in his Alpine, having struggled with traffic as he went to open his final lap. Lance Stroll was half a second off his team mate in P18 – leaving Williams’ Alex Albon 19th and his team mate Nicholas Latifi two-tenths back in P20.
Among those that improved were Kevin Magnussen, splitting the Mercedes in his un-upgraded Haas for P5, while Valtteri Bottas dropped to seventh for Alfa Romeo and Sergio Perez could only manage P8 having had a trip through the Turn 7 gravel. Bottas’s team mate Zhou Guanyu took a solid P9, leaving Daniel Ricciardo 10th.
Schumacher also fought his way out of the drop zone to P11 for Haas – a new gearbox fitted after his fiery FP3 stoppage – while Yuki Tsunoda took 12th and Gasly jumped to P13 for AlphaTauri. Lando Norris managed to stay afloat in P14 after a narrow miss with Stroll in the pits, while Ocon rounded out the top 15 for Alpine.
Knocked out: Vettel, Alonso, Stroll, Albon, Latifi
Q2 – Verstappen turns up the wick while Norris loses out
Mercedes set the first laps in Q2, Hamilton squirreling through Sector 3 with Russell beating him by three-tenths. Yet, the Silver Arrows led the field ahead of Perez – the Mexican having been equipped new softs to go third while Leclerc, Sainz and Verstappen used old tyres to go fourth, sixth and seventh respectively.
With Norris rounding out the top 10, team mate Ricciardo was in danger of dropping out, followed by Ocon, Zhou, and the AlphaTauris. The pack would surely shuffle again…
Mercedes saved a set of tyres with both drivers staying in the garage, Verstappen emerging again to set the fastest time of 1m 19.219s and Sainz going second by 0.234s to leave the Mercedes in third and fourth.
Magnussen rounded out the top five for Haas, Perez dropping down to sixth ahead of Leclerc (both also saving a set of softs) while Ricciardo improved to ninth. And it was Schumacher who rounded out the top 10 for a first career Q3 appearance.
Norris had his lap time deleted for going wide at Turn 12 and ended up 11th – 0.035s off safety – while Ocon could only manage P12. Tsunoda and Gasly were eliminated in P13 and P14 respectively, the Frenchman getting an apology from his engineer, with Zhou rounding out the Q2 standings with a 0.658s deficit to P10.
Knocked out: Norris, Ocon, Tsunoda, Gasly, Zhou
Q3 – Leclerc shrugs off spin before DRS glitch foils Verstappen
Opening laps saw Verstappen go fastest with a time of 1m 19.073s, Sainz almost 0.4s back in second, while Perez was just behind in third. As for Leclerc, he spun exiting Turn 14 and aborted his opening lap, leaving Mercedes’ Russell fourth and Hamilton fifth (having run just wide at Turns 10-11) with the time ticking away.
The pressure was on the championship leader, Leclerc going out earliest to set a time of 1m 18.750s for provisional pole. Verstappen was rounding the track, bearing down on his rival, but then came a message of despair: the Dutchman complained of a loss of power. Pole was Leclerc’s by 0.323s.
Horner later said that a DRS issue cost his world champion on Saturday in Spain.
With Verstappen settling for P2, Sainz rounded out the provisional top three. Russell’s rapid first sector earned him P4 – just 0.027s ahead of fifth-place Perez – while Hamilton took P6 on the grid.
Bottas was under a tenth away from his former team mate in P7 for Alfa Romeo, Magnussen just behind the Finnish driver as he clinched P8 for Haas despite a DRS issue. With Schumacher rounding out the top 10 in his Haas, Ricciardo qualified ninth for McLaren.
“I feel good. It was a very, very difficult session, especially in Q3 because I did a mistake in the first run of Q3 and then obviously I only had one lap, but it went extremely well. I had a bit of moment on my lap but at the end made it stick and very, very happy with pole position. It was a good lap, and the car was amazing too.
“I am in a strong position to start the race but we’ve been struggling with tyres compared to Red Bull so Max is just behind and if we don’t manage those tyres well, we will lose that win. So, we need to get on top of it and do a good job tomorrow on tyre management.
“I hope we can do a one-two together with Carlos; it would be great for the team and yes, we will give it all” – Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Can Leclerc clinch Ferrari's first Spanish Grand Prix win since Alonso triumphed in 2013? Or will Verstappen win his third race in a row? The lights go out at 1500 local time. Head to the RACE HUB to see when and where you can catch the action.