Belgian GP: Leclerc beats Vettel to pole by 0.7s

Charles Leclerc claimed pole position for Formula 1's Belgian Grand Prix with a huge advantage of 0.748s over Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Belgian GP: Leclerc beats Vettel to pole by 0.7s

Leclerc set the pace on the first runs in the Q3 top-10 shootout with a lap of 1m42.644s, which would have been enough to be sure of pole position.

But he improved to a 1m42.519s on his second run to make certain of starting from the front.

Vettel had to work hard to get a place on the front row, setting the third fastest time on the first run behind Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton improved on his second run, but Vettel's final lap was just quick enough to jump ahead – by only 0.015s.

Valtteri Bottas put the second Mercedes fourth on the grid, 0.896s off pole position and almost three-tenths ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Verstappen had a near-miss in Q1, with his first run ruined by a loss of engine power before completing a lap quick enough to reach Q2 just 13 seconds before a late red flag.

The leading drivers all struggled with their warm-up laps in Q3 as they struggled for track position, with both Mercedes drivers locking up on their first runs while on out-laps.

Vettel also had trouble, lamenting "what a mess" over the radio on his second slowdown lap.

Renault led the midfield with Daniel Ricciardo almost three-tenths clear of Nico Hulkenberg in sixth and seventh places respectively.

Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen almost split the Renaults but ended up eighth, 0.015s slower than Hulkenberg.

That put him ahead of the Racing Point of Sergio Perez, who has reverted to a previously-used old-specification Mercedes engine after Friday's failure.

Haas's Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top 10 but never looked to have the pace to do better than 10th.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean was the quickest of those eliminated in Q2 after being outpaced by Magnussen by just 0.059s.

McLaren driver Lando Norris was 12th fastest ahead of the Racing Point of Lance Stroll, who only made one attempt in Q2 as he carries a back-of-the-grid penalty for taking the new Mercedes engine at the start of the weekend.

Newly-promoted Red Bull driver Alex Albon also has to serve a back-of-the-grid penalty for taking the latest Honda engine package, meaning he has focused on race preparation work this weekend.

Although he did set a time in Q2, it was on previously-used rubber and left him down in 14th place.

Antonio Giovinazzi was 15th but unable to set a time in Q2 after suffering a failure of his new, latest-specification Ferrari engine at the end of the first part of qualifying.

Giovinazzi's failure, which resulted in a late red flag in Q1, ensured that first-run times dictated who was eliminated in the opening stage of qualifying.

Toro Rosso returnee Pierre Gasly was the quickest of those knocked out having lapped almost three-tenths off slowest Q2 qualifier Norris in Q1.

Surprisingly, McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr was also eliminated after having to complete his first flier on rubber that he'd used before the red flag.

Sainz must serve a five-place grid penalty after introduction the latest-specification Renault engine at the start of practice but returned to the previous version for Saturday's running – although other penalties means he is currently set to start no lower than 17th.

Daniil Kvyat, who carries a back-of-the-grid penalty thanks to taking the newly-upgraded Honda power unit package, was 18th and a second ahead of the Williams of George Russell.

Robert Kubica was 20th but was unable to set a time after he suffered a failure of his new and latest-specification Mercedes V6 engine towards the end of the lap while on his first qualifying lap.

Kubica brought the Williams, which was billowing smoke, to a halt as a fire broke out at the rear – leading to the first red flag of the session.

 Pos  Driver  Car / Engine                Time              Gap
Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1'42.519  
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1'43.267 0.748
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1'43.282 0.763
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1'43.415 0.896
Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1'43.690 1.171
Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1'44.557 2.038
Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 1'44.706 2.187
Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1'45.086 2.567
Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1'44.797 2.278
10  Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1'44.847 2.328
11  Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1'44.257 1.738
12  Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1'44.542 2.023
13  Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari   -
14  Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1'46.435 3.916
15  George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1'47.548 5.029
16  Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes   -
17  Carlos Sainz  McLaren/Renault 1'46.507 3.988
18  Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1'45.047 2.528
19  Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1'45.799 3.280
20  Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 1'46.518 3.999
shares
comments
Ferrari explains why it is waiting until Monza for new engine

Previous article

Ferrari explains why it is waiting until Monza for new engine

Next article

Williams: Latifi and Kubica among "handful" of 2020 options

Williams: Latifi and Kubica among "handful" of 2020 options
Load comments
The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge Prime

The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past.

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Prime

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again Prime

The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Formula 1
Jun 16, 2021
Why Alfa's boss is up to the task of securing a stronger F1 future Prime

Why Alfa's boss is up to the task of securing a stronger F1 future

Two tenth places in recent races have lifted Alfa Romeo to the head of Formula 1's 'Class C' battle in 2021, but longer-term the Swiss-based squad has far loftier ambitions. With the new 2022 rules set to level out the playing field, team boss Frederic Vasseur has good reason to be optimistic, as he explained to Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
How Barnard's revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction Prime

How Barnard's revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction

The MP4/1 was pioneering by choice, but a McLaren by chance. STUART CODLING relates the tangled (carbon fibre) weaves which led to the creation of one of motor racing’s defining cars

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool Prime

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

Wind tunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as Pat Symonds explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics.

Formula 1
Jun 13, 2021
Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Prime

Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. Stuart Codling weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising.

Formula 1
Jun 12, 2021