MONTMELÓ, Spain ( Associated Press) — Formula One championship leader Charles Leclerc recovered from a spin in qualifying on Saturday to put his Ferrari in first position at the Spanish Grand Prix, beating world champion Max Verstappen in a final attack.
Leclerc yelled, “that was good!” after running from him at the end of the third qualifying round. Earlier a spin sent him to the pits for a tire change. He then he launched into the final run,
Leclerc completed the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in 1 minute 18.750 seconds. He beat Verstappen’s Red Bull by 0.323 seconds for his fourth pole of the season and 13th of his career.
Carlos Sainz qualified third to put both Ferraris in the front row.
With its new car, Mercedes showed remarkable overcoming of the problems it had in the first five races of the season. George Russell, fourth, passed his new teammate Lewis Hamilton. The seven-time champion was sixth, with Mexican Sergio Pérez’s Red Bull between the two Mercedes.
Hamilton has won the last five Spanish GPs and the polesitter has won 23 of 31 because the circuit has so few sections to pass.
Leclerc, who was fastest in all three practice sessions before qualifying, is 19 points clear of Verstappen after five races. But Verstappen is coming off back-to-back wins at Imola and Miami, and leads the Monegasque by three wins to two on the season.
More than 100,000 spectators are expected at the first fully attended Spanish GP since 2019. In 2020 it was run without an audience and in 2021 just 1,000 spectators were allowed due to the pandemic.