The Monegasque set the fastest qualifying time for the Spanish GP. Next to him, Max Verstappen starts at the front on Sunday.
Dominant since the start of the weekend and determined to extend his lead in the Formula One Championship, Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) offered himself pole position in Saturday’s Spanish Grand Prix, his fourth in six races this season.
At the Barcelona-Catalonia circuit in Montmelo on Sunday he will start alongside Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull), his competitor in the general classification who fell victim to a DRS problem at the end of qualifying. “I couldn’t do my last lap, but being in the front line (…) is good,” reacted the reigning world champion, who is currently 19 points behind Leclerc in the championship.
Since the start of the season, Red Bull have struggled with reliability issues that resulted in Verstappen being eliminated twice and Sergio Pérez once. Without his retirements, would “Mad Max” lead the championship today? One thing is clear: Verstappen has never finished a race without a win this season.
If the stats observed at the Catalan circuit give Leclerc the advantage for now – with the winner starting from pole in 23 of 31 GPs – the Ferrari driver fears his tires will become a spoilsport. “I’m in a good position but we had problems with the tires and if we don’t manage them well we will lose the win,” he warned.
The leading two men will start ahead of the other Ferrari, that of Spain’s Carlos Sainz Jr., who has still failed to snag a career pole position in front of his home crowd.
Mercedes “work in progress”
With temperatures exceeding 34 degrees in the air and 45 degrees on the track, Mercedes has struggled to get the pontoons removed at the start of the 2022 season, the year a brand new technical regulation came into effect from its single-seaters.
A strategy that seems to have paid off since the beginning of the weekend, because under the eyes of tennis champion Roger Federer, seen in the box of the German team, George Russell bet for the 4th time and Lewis Hamilton for the 6th time behind the Red Bull by Sergio Pérez, who will start from position 5.
“We’re making progress (…) The car no longer jumps straight, that’s a huge difference. We still have some improvements to make,” Hamilton said. And Russell to cheer: “This is our best qualifying position as a team this season, ahead of a Red Bull.”
After around thirty GPs since 1991 and winter testing every year between 2014 and 2020 and then 2022, drivers and teams know the Catalan circuit inside out. While several teams such as Mercedes have used the Catalan track to develop their single-seaters, Aston Martin’s AMR22 has been in the spotlight since the start of the weekend for its Barcelona-made improvements which are oddly similar to the Reds Bull.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) on Friday deemed these improvements compliant, but Red Bull today suspects an “intellectual property transfer” and will launch an internal investigation. In recent months, several members of Red Bull, including chief aerodynamicist Dan Fallows, have left the Austrian team to join Aston Martin.
“We now have to check that we haven’t had a data leak (…) We want to make sure, we’re investigating that at the moment,” Pierre Waché, Technical Director at Red Bull, assured on Saturday that “the FIA will be part of the process if we’ll find something”.
For its part, Aston Martin defended itself through the voice of its technical director, Andrew Green: “All I can say is that at no time have we received any data from any team or anyone.”
The two drivers of the British team, the German Sebastian Vettel and the Canadian Lance Stroll, will start from positions 16 and 18 on Sunday.
Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari)
Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull)
Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP/Ferrari)
George Russell (GBR/Mercedes)
Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Alfa Romeo)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas Ferrari)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren Mercedes)
Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas Ferrari)
Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren Mercedes)
Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine Renault)
Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Red Bull)
Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Red Bull)
Zhou Guanyu (CHN/Alfa Romeo)
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Aston Martin-Mercedes)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine Renault)
Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin Mercedes)
Alexander Albon (THA/Williams Mercedes)
Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams Mercedes)
#Formula #Charles #Leclerc #starts #Barcelona #pole #position