Leclerc in pole position ahead of Verstappen in Vegas

Monaco’s Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) set the fastest time in qualifying and will start from pole position for the Las Vegas Grand Prix on Saturday, for F1’s return to the city of games.

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

It is Leclerc’s 5th pole position of the season (in Belgium he took advantage of the penalty awarded to Verstappen, who is faster), 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 put everything together to win here,” reacted Monegasque.

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 component 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. »


Alongside Leclerc, Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull), qualified 3rd, will start on the front row, having already secured his third consecutive world title this season, having won 17 of the 20 races so far. .

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Sergio Perez (Red Bull), the two drivers who fought for the place of vice world champion, were eliminated in Q2. He will start 10th and 11th respectively, ahead of Sainz who is 12th.

“We finished a bit too early – four minutes before the end of Q2 – and the other drivers continued to make progress,” lamented Perez, known for doing well on city circuits.

“I was really struggling to find grip,” complained the seven-time British F1 champion. “We couldn’t get the tires to work the whole session.”

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 was working well, I was going to the limit, I was driving great laps.” His teammate and compatriot Esteban Ocon will start only on the 16th.

Williams at the meeting

Also pay attention to the excellent performance of “rookie” and local participant of the event, American Logan Sargeant, who achieved his best F1 qualification in Vegas. He will start 6th at the wheel of his modest Williams, right behind his teammate from Thailand, Alexander Albon.

Canadian Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) received a five-place penalty for overtaking under a yellow flag during the final free practice earlier on Friday. It will only start on the 19th.

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.

Cador Verstappen was not too enthusiastic about the track on the legendary Vegas Strip, “not very interesting”, and the show that follows him behind the scenes.

His rival Lewis Hamilton, a more “bling-bling” personality, on the contrary, defended the event, “you will see great races”, and the spectacle: “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.

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