Ferrari locks out front row for F1 Belgium Grand Prix

Leclerc beat teammate Sebastian Vettel by three quarters of a second in qualifying

Charles Leclerc took a third pole position of his Formula 1 career Saturday, beating teammate Sebastian Vettel for the sixth race running for an all-Ferrari front row in Belgium.

Leclerc is quickly becoming one of the hottest properties in F1 and his stock rose even higher as he smashed Vettel by three quarters of a second in qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix.

“It felt good,” said Leclerc. “The first sector was not exactly what I wanted, especially the first corner. We had to go very slow to prepare the lap because there was a lot of traffic, so I struggled quite a bit, but from the second corner we were very strong, and it felt amazing.”

While most drivers in the top ten shootout were tripping over each other in a bid to get the best positioning for a tow down the long Kemmel Straight, Leclerc told his mechanics for the second run to forget about it, feeling that preparing the tires better for the lap would yield a larger advantage.

“Yeah, it’s what I asked in the garage, to not care too much about the slipstream,” continued Leclerc. “It was just too much of a mess to prepare the tires and the lap overall, so I wanted to be alone and it worked out, so I’m very happy.”

Locking out the front row for Ferrari was Sebastian Vettel. Leapfrogging Lewis Hamilton on his final lap of the session. Vettel has arguably scored the best grid position to have at Spa-Francorchamps as he will likely be in the tow of Leclerc on lap one and have a chance to grab the lead early on.

Even with this in mind however, the German was less than pleased with his effort at the race which he won last year. A race which remains his and Ferrari’s most recent success.

“In the end, it’s good that we secured the first row,” said Vettel. “I was in the queue and that doesn’t help, but no excuses. We look forward to the race tomorrow. I think we have good pace in the car, so hopefully we can show it also over the 44-laps.”

Ferrari had been second best to Mercedes on long run pace during practice but with much cooler temperatures expected for Sunday and improvements made heading into qualifying, Vettel was confident of a strong performance on race day.

Vettel added, “The car was better today so we’ll see. Obviously, temperatures should drop overnight which will make a difference, but it’s the same for everyone.”

Hamilton may only be starting third, but the fact that he is starting anywhere other than in the pitlane is a minor miracle. Crashing heavily in final practice just a few short hours before qualifying got underway, his mechanics had to rebuild the entre front end of his Mercedes.

Aided by an engine failure for Robert Kubica and the subsequent time spent with the session under a red flag, Mercedes managed to get him back out onto the track and he delivered the rewards for their efforts.

“FP3 was a terrible session for me, and of course, it’s painful because you know how many people worked hard to build those parts, and you know how hard the guys work to put the car together, so I knew that was going to be a tough challenge, but my guys are just faultless,” said Hamilton. “They always work and give 110% and I’m so grateful for that.

“I was just trying to pay them back with a good qualifying session so, considering I missed all of FP3, and a lot of FP1 actually, I’m really grateful I’m up here.”

While the results show a certain order, the lower regions of the grid especially will change drastically for the actual grid.  Thanks due to a number of grid penalties for engine changes – Red Bull debutant Alex Albon one notable driver to be affected as he will start from the back of the pack.

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

Sights from the action ahead of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix Saturday August 31, 2019

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