F1: Leclerc takes Dominant Pole at Spa-Francorchamps

Charles Leclerc clenches his fist after claiming Pole Position for the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix. Image sourced from @LeclercNews via Twitter.

Charles Leclerc stormed to his third career pole position at Spa-Francorchamps, ahead of Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Ferrari Race Back into Life

After two blistering laps from Leclerc, the Monegasque secured pole from Vettel by seven tenths of a second.

Leclerc: “It felt good – the first sector wasn’t quite what we wanted, but after that we were very strong. We need to work on our race pace a bit, but I think we should be fast tomorrow.”

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Scuderia.

A scruffy opening lap for Vettel in Q3, left the German in a lonely third behind Mercedes’  Lewis Hamilton.

Fortunately, Vettel was able to take the final front-row spot from Hamilton right at the death, by just thousands of a second.

Vettel: “In the end, it’s good we secured the front-row. I think we have good pace in the car for tomorrow. The car was better today so we’ll see.”

Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc congratulate each other after locking out the front row for the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix. © XBP Images

Mercedes Close Behind

After his heavy crash in final practice, Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes in an amazing third for tomorrow’s race.

Hamilton: “FP3 was a terrible session for me but my guys back in the garage always give 100% and I’m so grateful to them for getting me back out here.”

“Ferrari have done a great job today but I hope we can bring the fight to them tomorrow.”

Alongside him will be the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who was recently announced a new one-year deal with the team.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen struggled with his Red Bull for the majority of the session. Consequently, he could only manage fifth; a somber result considering the Dutchman took his maiden pole last time out in Hungary.

Renault Promise Hampered by Grid Penalties

Kimi Raikkonen has always fared well in the Belgian Grand Prix, winning at Spa-Francorchamps four times. Image sourced from @alfaromeoracing via Twitter.

Renault were best of the rest, with Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg placing sixth and seventh respectively. However, Ricciardo will drop five places due to a grid penalty for a power unit change.

The same will apply to Hulkenberg, who will be departing the French outfit at the end of the season to make way for Esteban Ocon. The Frenchman signed a two-year deal with the Enstone squad, whom he previously tested for, despite his association with Mercedes.

This, and a stunning lap, promoted Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo to sixth on the grid. Racing Point continued their trend of being strong around Spa, with Sergio Perez in seventh, ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

McLaren and Albon Struggle

Alexander Albon shares a word with a Red Bull engineer at Spa-Francorchamps. Image sourced from @RedBullRacing via Twitter.

Meanwhile, Alexander Albon was only 14th in his debut qualifying for Red Bull, but didn’t set a representative lap time. However, Dr Helmut Marko stated that the new Honda power unit should give Albon time to find his bearings within the team.

It was also tough day for McLaren as both cars failed to reach Q3. Carlos Sainz Jr. dropped out after being denied a second flying lap in Q1, after Antonio Giovinazzi had pulled off the track.

Giovinazzi reported an issue with the Internal Combustion Engine and was unable to contest Q2 as a conseqeunce.

Surprisingly it was not the first red flag of the session as Robert Kubica’s new Mercedes engine went up in a puff of smoke just as Q1 got underway.

Lando Norris also struggled in the second McLaren and could only go 12th fastest in Q2. However, he’ll start the race in tenth as a result of the grid penalites for the Renaults.

2019 Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying: Provisional Classification*:

*Provisional Classification preceding the application of any grid penalties for the race.