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Leclerc makes another mistake as Perez goes quickest to tee up pole bid

Leclerc makes another mistake as Perez goes quickest to tee up pole bid

F1 News

Leclerc makes another mistake as Perez goes quickest to tee up pole bid

Leclerc makes another mistake as Perez goes quickest to tee up pole bid

Charles Leclerc narrowly avoided paying a heavy price after making another mistake this F1 season.

Leclerc has cost himself points following incidents in the Emilia Romagna and French Grands Prix this year that have affected his championship challenge.

At the Paul Ricard Circuit, in particular, Leclerc was leading when he crashed out, with the two incidents helping to pitch him 80 points adrift of title leader Max Verstappen.

On this occasion, the latest error was at least only in the final practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix, but it was another sign of the Monégasque driver's vulnerability.

Through the Fagnes chicane at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit, Leclerc lost control of his F1-75, sending him across the gravel before his car clipped a barrier with both the rear and front-right wheels, losing the front-wing endplate.

Leclerc reported no damage but with nine minutes remaining, he still caused a red flag before returning to the garage and a final seventth place on the timesheet, 1.073secs adrift of Red Bull's Sergio Perez.

The Mexican knocked team-mate Max Verstappen off of top spot right at the death with a lap of one minute 45.047secs to tee himself up for a pole shot given the welter of penalties being taken by a number of drivers, including Verstappen and Leclerc.

Perez finished 0.137s ahead of Verstappen, with the Red Bull pairing comfortably ahead of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz who was 0.777s off the pace.

The battle for pole appears to be between Perez and Sainz as Verstappen and Leclerc are two of now seven drivers who will be fighting over grid slots 14 to 20 during qualifying.

Aside from the two F1 title contenders, McLaren's Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon in his Alpine, Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas and Haas' Mick Schumacher, Zhou Guanyu can now be added to the list.

The Chinese driver has taken fresh power unit and gearbox components, and so joins the battle to avoid the ignominy of lining up on the back row.

It is extremely likely Verstappen and Leclerc will be at the back end of the midfield in positions 15 and 16 come Sunday's race start, ensuring they will be scoring a healthy haul of points given the pace of their cars and ease of overtaking at this track.

The duo have received back-of-the-grid penalties, alongside Norris, Ocon, Zhou and Schumacher.

Bottas has only received grid penalties - 20 in total after also taking new gearbox components on Saturday - which means he will line up 14th, even if he qualifies lower than that.

Norris again fared well as he was fourth quickest ahead of Alpine's Fernando Alonso and George Russell in his Mercedes.

As for Russell's team-mate Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time champion was a lowly 12th, although backed out of his final hot lap to finish 1.722s down, and at this stage seemingly out of the battle for pole position.

Belgian Grand Prix final practice results

1. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] 1:45.047s

2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] +0.137s

3. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.777s

4. Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.918s

5. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +1.014s

6. George Russell [Mercedes] +1.024s

7. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +1.073s

8. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +1.119s

9. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +1.554s

10. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +1.557s

11. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +1.599s

12. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +1.722s

13. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +1.764s

14. Alexander Albon [Williams] +1.789s

15. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] +1.834s

16. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +1.928s

17. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] +1.935s

18. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +1.988s

19. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] +2.042s

20. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +7.447s

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