Charles Leclerc is the first non-Mercedes driver in nine years to start the Spanish GP from pole position, beating Max Verstappen to the coveted grid slot.
The Ferrari driver left it to the last lap, spinning on his first run in Q3 which meant he did not set a time, with Verstappen on provisional pole at the time.
But while Leclerc found pace, and put in a clean lap on his second run, Verstappen reported “no power” as he dropped to second place, unable to defend P1 as his DRS failed to open.
Carlos Sainz will start his home race from third, joined on the second row by George Russell, who bagged Mercedes’ best qualifying of this season.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 21, 2022
Track limits, simply put the white line marks the edge of the track, were in play with Yuki Tsunoda losing his opening time as he ran wide at Turn 12.
Red Bull played the slipstream game with Sergio Perez giving Max Verstappen a tow down the back straight, the Dutchman clocking a 1:20.091.
But that wasn’t enough to hold off the Ferraris, Charles Leclerc quickest with a 1:19.861 and Carlos Sainz 0.031s off his team-mate’s pace. The Mercedes driver were fourth and fifth with George Russell ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
It was not a good qualifying session for the upgraded Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel out in 16th place with Lance Stroll P18. They were split by Fernando Alonso, with Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi also not making it through.
Traffic at the end caught out Alonso, the Spaniard trying to jump the queue on his out-lap only to be blocked by Lando Norris.
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) May 21, 2022
As the track temperature crept up to 47°C, Mercedes had the better early pace in Q2 with Russell’s 1:19.470 putting him 0.3s ahead of Hamilton. His lap time was the fastest of the weekend up to that point.
Perez was third ahead of Leclerc, the Ferrari driver and his team-mate both opting for used tyres for their first run before Sainz swapped to new softs for a second run, Leclerc stayed in the pits.
Ahead of their second run the drivers were warned by Race Control not to back up in the pit exit, something they did in Q1 to try create a gap, as that delayed the cars behind.
The session ended with Verstappen on top, a 1:19.219, while out went Norris, who had his last lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 12 and dropped out of the top 10 as a result. Esteban Ocon, Yuki Tsunoda, Pierre Gasly and Zhou Guanyu joined the McLaren driver in not making it through.
Lando Norris exceeding the track limits.
How close was that?! pic.twitter.com/N8iZ90DkAs
— GPFans Global (@GPFansGlobal) May 21, 2022
Norris’ mistake meant Mick Schumacher, who was in doubt for qualifying after his FP3 fire, made it into Q3 for the first time in his career.
As Verstappen hit the front to take provisional pole, Leclerc hit the brakes as he spun his Ferrari meaning it would come down to just one attempt for the Monégasque driver.
That cost Russell as he had yellow flags on his hot lap, the Mercedes driver fourth after the opening gambits behind Verstappen, Sainz and Perez. Leclerc was tenth without a time on the board.
Leclerc was the first driver out on track for the second run with the Ferrari driver going purple in the middle sector to hit the front with a 1:18.750 – provisional pole.
His title rival Verstappen reported “no power” and was told to box, his hopes of taking pole position over. He did, however, hold onto second place, 0.323s down.
Sainz was third ahead of Russell, who gives Mercedes a shot from the second row at the start on Sunday.
Perez was fifth with Hamilton’s run of six Barcelona ending with a P6. Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo and Schumacher rounding off the top ten.
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.750
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.323s
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.416s
4 George Russell Mercedes 0.643s
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.670s
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.762s
7 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 0.858s
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas 0.932s
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.547s
10 Mick Schumacher Haas 1.618s
11 Lando Norris McLaren 1:20.471
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:20.638
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:20.639
14 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:20.861
15 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing 1:21.094
16 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:20.954
17 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:21.043
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:21.418
19 Alex Albon Williams 1:21.646
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:21.915
Torquing Point: Can Carlos Sainz win his home race?
Carlos Sainz is desperate to get his first Formula 1 win, and where better to do it than his home race?