F1: Charles Leclerc takes the lead at the Las Vegas Grand Prix

LAS VEGAS – Monaco’s Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) set the best time in qualifying and started from the leading position on Saturday at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, for the return of F1 to the city of cubes.

After a black day on Thursday, Ferrari shone red on Friday with their two fastest drivers in qualifying.

It is Leclerc’s 5th leading position of the season (in Belgium, he made better use of Verstappen’s penalty), and 23rd in his career at the age of 26.

“Of course, I am happy about the premiere in Las Vegas (the two Grand Prix in 1981 and 1982 were the “Grand Prix of Caesar Palace”), an incredible event. I’m still a bit disappointed with my Q3, I didn’t do a good job but it was enough for pole. We will try to combine everything here to win. »

It’s a bittersweet day for Carlos Sainz, who is second behind his team-mate as he is penalized 10 places on the Grand Prix table, a legacy of Thursday’s accident.

The Ferrari driver was actually penalized for changing an engine element after hitting the pit, which greatly disrupted the first day of testing.

“The team did a magnificent job, we dominated these qualifiers after a tough day yesterday, it’s incredible to be in the top two,” commented the Spaniard. I did my best today. But I’m still very disappointed with what happened yesterday, I’m still angry but I try not to show it too much. »


Along with Leclerc, the Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull) will start in the first row, who has already secured his third consecutive world championship title this season, having won 17 of the 20 races at the moment.

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Sergio Perez (Red Bull), the two drivers who were fighting for the place of vice world champion, were eliminated during Q2.

George Russell (Mercedes) will start in the second row just ahead of Pierre Gasly (Alpine), the pleasant surprise of the day.

“It came out of nowhere, I thought it would be the most complicated track of the season,” smiled the Frenchman. The car worked well, I went to the limit, I did great laps, I’m very happy. We thought it was going to be complicated going into Q2 and I found myself in the 2nd row, it’s amazing. »

Lance Stroll (Aston Martin-Mercedes) received a 5-place penalty for disobeying the yellow flag during Practice 3 earlier on Friday, and is still under inspection for another breach.

Celebrated with great fanfare, F1’s return to Las Vegas 41 years after two races held in the Cesar Palace car park in 1981 and 1982 began with an embarrassing day on Thursday for the start of testing, largely marred by a pit cover.

Dutch top star Max Verstappen was not thrilled with the circuit on the iconic Vegas Strip, “not very interesting”, and the accompanying behind-the-scenes show.

His rival Lewis Hamilton, a more “bling-bling” personality, defended the event, “you will see great races” and the show: “all my Hollywood acquaintances will come”.

Las Vegas is the penultimate Grand Prix of the year, before the season closes next week in Abu Dhabi.

Qualification order :

1. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1:32.726

2. Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP/Ferrari) 1:32.770

3. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) 1:33.104

4. George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) 1:33.112

5. Pierre Gasly (FRA/Alpine-Renault) 1:33.239

6. Alexander Albon (THA/Williams-Mercedes) 1:33.323

7. Logan Sargeant (USA/Williams-Mercedes) 1:33.513

8. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari) 1:33.525

9. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari) 1:33.537

10. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1:33.555

Eliminated Q2 :

11. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)

12. Sergio Pérez (MEX/Red Bull)

13. Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Haas-Ferrari)

14. Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin-Mercedes)

15. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/AlphaTauri-Red Bull)

Eliminated Q1 :

16. Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)

17. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault)

18. Zhou Guanyu (CHN/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari)

19. Oscar Piastri (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes)

20. Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Red Bull)

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