Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc takes center stage at the Spanish Grand Prix

Montmelo, Spain – Formula 1 world champion Charles Leclerc dominated qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday after defeating defending champion Max Verstappen.

The Ferrari driver took Verstappen 0.323 seconds to finish already fourth this season.

“I feel good! It was a very tough session, especially in the third quarter because I made a (driving) mistake, which only left me one lap to set a time. Very, very happy with my poles – it was a good lap and the car is great,” Leclerc said after the session. : “I’m in a good position (for tomorrow), but we will have to manage our tires better, because if we don’t, victory may slip away.”

But the Dutchman suffered a loss of power from his Honda engine when he tried the last lap to pass Leclerc’s time, preventing him from his collision.

“It’s always hard to say, but I couldn’t do the last lap. Still, being in the front row (of the net) is good, but obviously I would have preferred to have a springboard. It’s going to be hot, this track is not conducive to overtaking, but our car should be more suitable with rubber,” Verstappen said.

Then Red Bull boss Christian Horner gave an idea of ​​the nature of Verstappen’s mechanical failure.

“It’s a problem with Verstappen’s DRS (Drag Reduction System),” Horner said. But we weren’t fast enough today to hope to beat Charles’ lap.”

Leclerc’s Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. delighted his supporters with a third-place finish by 0.416sec.

“It’s been tough so far this weekend, with the heat and everything. We can fight (for the win) tomorrow, provided we have a good start. Everything will be possible after that,” summed the Spaniard.

George Russell, who drives his Mercedes, scored the fourth time ahead of Red Bull’s other Mexican driver Sergio Perez. For his part, Lewis Hamilton had the sixth fastest time.

Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) and Mick Schumacher (Haas) completed the top ten in the standings.

The qualifying session took place on a hot and sunny day at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit. Spain is currently gripped by a severe heat wave – May is the hottest month in 20 years.

Qualifying was particularly important as the pole position holder had won 23 of the last 31 races in Spain, particularly because of the few sectors he had overtaken.

Barring unexpected penalties, Sebastian Vettel will start 16th at the wheel of his Aston Martin, while his teammate, Kipker Lance Stroll, will start from 18th on the starting grid. For his part, Toronto driver Nicolas Latifi, at Williams Stadium, finished 20th and last.

“It’s disappointing, the Mont-Tremblant driver admitted. I can’t find the right settings this weekend and when you’re not comfortable in the car you can’t set the good times.

Leclerc has a 19-point lead over Verstappen after five races, but the Red Bull driver is on alert after winning back-to-back wins at Imola and Miami. The Dutchman has achieved three victories so far, compared to two victories for Monaco.

Ferrari is one of several teams to arrive in Spain with technical upgrades to its 2022 car, and Scuderia is making no secret that they hope to fend off Verstappen’s return this weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya for a distance of 4.6 km.

Hamilton has won the Spanish Grand Prix six times, including the last five. The seven-times world champion started the weekend as the underdog, however, fighting at the front of the peloton often puts Verstappen against Leclerc.

Hamilton has also been lost by Russell four times in his first five races, although Mercedes has had its share of problems since the start of the season.

Leclerc set the fastest time in the third and final free practice session in the morning, having dominated the previous two the day before.

The third free practice session was markedly marked by a failure of Schumacher’s Haas braking system, resulting in a brief fire in the back of his single seat. Nevertheless, he was able to participate in the playoffs, and brilliantly returned by slipping into the top ten.

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