Leclerc recovers from spin to score Spanish GP pole
By Mat Coch
Sunday 22nd May, 2022 - 1:14am
Charles Leclerc recovered from a spin in Qualifying 3 to record pole position for the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver set a time more than 0.3s clear of the field with his one and only flying lap in the final phase of the segment to head Max Verstappen and team-mate Carlos Sainz.
Daniel Ricciardo was McLaren’s sole representative in the final 10, the Australian qualifying ninth after opting for just a single run in Qualifying 3.
It was a slow start to the three-part session, with only Zhou Guanyu and the two Scuderia AlphaTauris out on track in the early minutes.
For Pierre Gasly, it was key to get back on track after his running in Free Practice 3 was compromised by a damaged heat shield in his AMR03.
Red Bull opted to send its cars out comparatively early, with seven minutes run and only two comparatively slow times on the board from Zhou and Gasly.
Perez recorded a 1:20.447s on his first flying lap before offering a handy slipstream to team-mate Verstappen as he ended his lap and the Dutchman began his own.
That resulted in a 1:20.091s, a time that would comfortable ensure his progress into Qualifying 2.
The Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz promptly went faster, the former on a 1:19.861 and a 1:19.892 for the local favourite.
Russell and Hamilton looked to have maintained their practice pace as they slotted in fourth and fifth respectively with near identical 1:20.2 laps.
Perez had gone out for a second run but found himself bouncing through the gravel at Turn 7 as he aborted what looked to be a promising lap.
Inside the final minute, Daniel Ricciardo found himself on the elimination bubble as much of the field began a final flying lap in Qualifying 1.
The Australian found himself in the drop zone as Mick Schumacher improved before he logged a 1:20.549s to rise to 10th.
Less fortunate were Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Stroll, Alex Albon, and Nicholas Latifi who all found themselves eliminated.
The opening minutes of Qualifying 2 passed with the circuit remaining silent.
It was only when Schumacher headed out of the lane that the tedium was broken, the German followed out by most ever other driver.
Ferrari fitted a set of used soft rubber for both its drivers, as did Verstappen, with the balance on new rubber.
Hamilton was the first driver to bank a lap, though a mistake exiting the final chicane cost him time as he managed only 1:19.794s.
Russell duly went faster with a 1:19.470s to end the lap 0.3s quicker than his team-mate had managed.
Perez slotted in third from Bottas, then the two Haas with Kevin Magnussen, who didn’t have DRS, ahead of Schumacher by just 0.007s.
Those on scrubbed tyres struggled for pace, Leclerc only fourth after the first flurry of laps, Verstappen sixth, and Sainz seventh.
Even still, it was a lap Leclerc decided was good enough as he remained in the pits as the bulk of the field headed out for a second effort.
Mercedes made the same choice while Sainz in the second Ferrari didn’t have such a luxury.
Sitting seventh as he began his lap, the Spaniard improved onto provisional pole with a 1:19.453s.
A late lap from Ricciardo again saw the Australian escape the drop zone, climbing to ninth after team-mate Norris had his effort deleted to drop to 11th.
That promoted Schumacher into the top 10 for the first time in his career, while Esteban Ocon, Yuki Tsunoda, Gasly, and Zhou were all eliminated.
Verstappen ended the segment fastest, improving over Sainz with a 1:19.219s as seven different teams were represented in the top 10.
Qualifying 3 began with all 10 cars heading out, Leclerc spinning exiting the final corner as he completed his first timed lap.
Verstappen went fastest of those opening laps from Sainz, then Perez and the two Mercedes, headed by Russell.
Provisional pole was a 1:19.073s, more than 0.3s clear of the lead Ferrari.
Leclerc headed the charge back out as the session built to its crescendo, the only one of the 10 surviving drivers not to have set a time in Qualifying 3 to that point.
Bucking the trend was Ricciardo, the McLaren driver opting not to complete a second run after setting the seventh best time with his earlier lap.
Leclerc shot to provisional pole by some margin with a 1:18.750s, Verstappen abandoning his lap after he was told to pit after reporting a loss of power.
Sainz remained third with Russell fourth best, one spot ahead of Perez, then came Hamilton, Bottas, Magnussen, Ricciardo, and Schumacher.
It was a strong showing from Leclerc in a pressure situation, the points leader delivering when it mattered despite his earlier error to continue his streak of starting on the front row at every race thus far in 2022.
Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix gets underway at 23:00 AEST.
Results: Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying
|1||16||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari||1:19.861||1:19.969||1:18.750|
|2||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:20.091||1:19.219||1:19.073|
|3||55||Carlos Sainz||Scuderia Ferrari||1:19.892||1:19.453||1:19.166|
|4||63||George Russell||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||1:20.218||1:19.470||1:19.393|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||1:20.447||1:19.830||1:19.420|
|6||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||1:20.252||1:19.794||1:19.512|
|7||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||1:20.355||1:20.053||1:19.608|
|8||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||1:20.227||1:19.810||1:19.682|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren F1 Team||1:20.549||1:20.287||1:20.297|
|10||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas F1 Team||1:20.683||1:20.436||1:20.368|
|11||4||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team||1:20.838||1:20.471|
|12||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine F1 Team||1:20.880||1:20.638|
|13||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:20.707||1:20.639|
|14||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:20.719||1:20.861|
|15||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||1:20.476||1:21.094|
|16||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin F1 Team||1:20.954|
|17||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine F1 Team||1:21.043|
|18||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin F1 Team||1:21.418|
|19||23||Alex Albon||Williams Racing||1:21.645|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing||1:21.915|