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Mercedes' Spanish hot streak ends as Leclerc lands pole after Verstappen power loss

Mercedes' Spanish hot streak ends as Leclerc lands pole after Verstappen power loss

F1 News

Mercedes' Spanish hot streak ends as Leclerc lands pole after Verstappen power loss

Mercedes' Spanish hot streak ends as Leclerc lands pole after Verstappen power loss

Charles Leclerc recovered from a pressurised situation to land a vital pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix after F1 title rival Max Verstappen complained of a power loss on his final flying lap.

Ferrari driver Leclerc, who had set the fastest second sector on his first run in Q3 at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, spun coming out of the penultimate corner, placing himself under pressure to land a lap with his final outing.

The Monégasque, quickest in all three practice sessions, duly delivered as he landed a time of one minute 18.750secs for his fourth pole of the season.

As for Red Bull's reigning champion Verstappen, who will line up alongside Leclerc on the front row, the Dutch driver was on provisional pole after the first run but was stymied by a power loss on his second that left him unable to challenge.

Leclerc's pole is crucial as of the previous 31 grands prix at the circuit, 23 winners have come from pole, and 28 from the front row, underlining the crucial nature of qualifying for this venue.

Team-mate Carlos Sainz starts third in front of his home crowd, with Mercedes duo George Russell and Lewis Hamilton fourth and sixth either side of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

Mercedes had come into this latest qualifying session on a remarkable run of nine consecutive pole positions at this track, locking out the front row on seven occasions in that period.

While the team was finally able to deliver a W13 to Russell and Hamilton free of the porpoising that has plagued it this season, it is still short of the power of Ferrari and Red Bull.

Behind Hamilton is former Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in his Alfa Romeo, with Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher eighth and 10th - the latter i in the top 10 for the first time - sandwiching McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo.

Norris suffers costly deleted lap time

In the dying stages of Q2, it appeared McLaren's Lando Norris had comfortably made his way into the top-10 shoot-out, only for his final time of 1:19.977s to be deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 12.

That would have placed Norris eighth and eliminated Schumacher, but instead, the Briton will start 11th ahead of Alpine's Esteban Ocon who had only just scraped into the second session.

AlphaTauri duo Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly will line up on the seventh row in 13th and 14th respectively, the latter doing well to make qualifying after technical issues confined him to the garage for all but one lap in final practice.

Zhou Guanyu will start 15th in his Alfa Romeo, but aware team-mate Bottas again showing what was possible as the Finn finished a full second clear to make Q3.

Both Aston Martins knocked out in Q1

For Aston Martin, after all the furore in the build-up to the weekend so far surrounding their upgraded AMR22 and its striking resemblance to the Red Bull RB18, qualifying proved to be a disaster.

Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll will start 16th and 18th respectively, with the four-time champion missing out on a place in Q2 by 0.074s to Ocon.

To add to Aston Martin's woes, Stroll is under investigation for an unsafe release into the path of Norris during Q1.

Sandwiched in between the duo, and to the huge disappointment of the majority of the 110,000 crowd, is home hero Fernando Alonso in his Alpine, his lowest grid slot at this track since his debut campaign with Minardi in 2001.

That was primarily as he failed to set a final flying lap due to a gaggle of cars moving slowly through the penultimate corner as he geared up for his hot lap.

On the back row are the Williams pair of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, with almost three-tenths of a second separating the duo as the Canadian continues to struggle, casting his future with the team further into doubt.

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