Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Leclerc makes it four-in-a-row with crushing Sochi pole

2019 Russian Grand Prix qualifying

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Charles Leclerc held sway throughout qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix and claimed his fourth consecutive pole position by four tenths of a second.

Lewis Hamilton denied Ferrari a one-two in Sochi, pushing Sebastian Vettel back to the second row of the grid with his final lap.


Daniil Kvyat’s latest engine failure in final practice spelled the end for his qualifying hopes. The Toro Rosso driver wasn’t able to take part in qualifying, and was doomed to start last anyway because of his grid penalty.

He will be joined at the back of the grid by Alexander Albon after the Red Bull driver’s difficult weekend continued. He spun backwards into a barrier at turn 13, damaging the rear of his RB15, and bringing out the red flags.

When the session resumed Sebastian Vettel, who hadn’t set a representative time up to that point, quickly went out and bagged his place in Q2 with a lap quick enough to lead the times.

That put Pierre Gasly into the drop zone. However Toro Rosso’s fears both drivers would go out in the first round were assuaged as Gasly bagged a place in Q2. With the Williams drivers heading out as usual – George Russell complaining about being sent out in traffic – the fight to avoid elimination came down to the two Alfa Romeo drivers.

Kimi Raikkonen looked on set to make it through but an error at turn 10 spoiled his lap. Antonio Giovinazzi took his chance, and edged Raikkonen out has he took the final place in Q2.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’34.840
17George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’35.356
18Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’36.474
19Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’39.197
20Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-HondaNo time

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Ferrari and Verstappen, in the sole remaining Red Bull, picked soft tyres for Q2, and therefore the start of the race. Leclerc continued to assert himself, pulling out a six-tenths lead over Vettel as he secured his place in Q3. However he ran along one of the sausage kerbs, scraping the underside of his car.

Vettel was only fractionally quicker than Verstappen and Hamilton. The Mercedes driver, like his team mate, did not opt for the softs. Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas got through to Q3 on mediums, putting them on a different strategy for the start of the race.

Behind them Romain Grosjean was at a loss about how to find more time from his Haas. “I don’t know what to do,” he said on the radio. “I honestly don’t know what to do.” Nonetheless he pulled out a superb final lap for sixth, pipping the McLaren pair.

The Renault drivers also reached Q3, Daniel Ricciardo making a late improvement which ended Gasly’s participation in qualifying. Both Racing Points dropped out, Stroll after a slightly scruffy lap, and Magnussen in the newer Haas specification couldn’t match Grosjean’s time in the older kit.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’33.950
12Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’33.958
13Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’34.037
14Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’34.082
15Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’34.233

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The Mercedes drivers were over half a second behind Leclerc after their first runs. Hamilton was closest, and felt he was losing time because of oscillations when he changed gears. The team also believed he had time to gain through turn two.

Vettel was first to beat Hamilton’s time, but Leclerc was conclusively quicker, putting his team mate down by three-tenths of a second. Bottas slotted in fourth ahead of Verstappen.

On his final run, Vettel had what he called a “little wobble” in the last sector. He improved his lap time, but that opened the door for Hamilton, and the Mercedes driver split the two Ferraris, claiming a front row spot.

Leclerc wasn’t happy with his run through the end of the lap as well, but he also found more time and claimed his fourth consecutive pole position by four tenths of a second. Bottas abandoned his final attempt at a lap, and Verstappen took fourth place off him.

Carlos Sainz Jnr claimed sixth for McLaren, followed by Nico Hulkenberg. Lando Norris, who was unhappy with the first half of his lap, backed him up in eighth. Romain Grosjean told his Haas team ninth was probably the best the car could manage after pushing Daniel Ricciardo down to 10th.

Top ten in Q3

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2019 Russian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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129 comments on “Leclerc makes it four-in-a-row with crushing Sochi pole”

  1. Mercedes – sandbagging until Q3
    Ferrari – sandbagging until the summer break
    And Williams – sandbagging until the 2021 regs

    1. Charles the new king, what a hot lapper.

      1. So who was the old king he replaced?

        1. A few GP ago the king was Verstappen… And a few before that it was Hamilton… A fast changing world ;-) . More seriously the new Gen of driver is really existing. I wonder if the previous generation was forged to drive these cars less aggressively and if now aggressivity is not again paying.

  2. I think Lewis would have wanted to be third given that it would be on the cleaner side..

    1. For the undercut, if possible, he will want to split the Ferraris, I don’t think that is possible from 3rd. Some have been saying Ferrari likes to control a slow pace from the front Because they have the engine to defend, and can easily manage the tires.

      If Lewis can Push Leclerc tomorrow to use his tires, more than Ferrari wants, then pits before him, the undercut could work, Cause theoretically he should have a decent inlap and the softs for a faster outlap, even against the Ferrari engine.

      1. @gufdamm

        For the undercut, if possible, he will want to split the Ferraris, I don’t think that is possible from 3rd.

        I think it’s fairly obvious that running in 2nd place is better than 3rd.
        The comment you’re referring to, however, has nothing to do with that. krichelle just thinks that Hamilton’s chances of actually emerging in 2nd place might be higher if he started from 3rd place.

        Well, we’ll see. We know that the Ferrari engine has a little extra grunt in situations where it matters the most, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Vettel slipstreaming past Hamilton on the run to the first braking point.

        1. The more realistic scenario is Ham slipstreaming behind LEC. If LEC defends his position against Lewis, VET will profit. If LEC defends his position against VER, Lewis will benefit.
          So a very good start by LEC is essential for his changes, if not he is screwed.

          1. “More realistic” implies it’s a different scenario, but it isn’t really. Of course Lewis is going to have a slipstream too, if nothing unpredictable happens (e.g. rain).
            But guess who’s probably going to have a double slipstream – yup, Vettel. Who, by the way, also has the advantage of starting on the grippier side (unless it rains), and a Ferrari engine. In other words, I can’t see how Lewis taking the fight to Leclerc and everything else depending on how that goes is a more likely scenario than Vettel getting a good run on Hamilton first. Double slipstream, clean side, slightly more powerful PU. The odds are in his favour, albeit probably not by much, so that individual factors such as initial reaction time and traction will still play a significant role.

  3. Charles Leclerc. Hats off to the young man! 4 tenths to your team mate who is no slouch.

    At this point, it is so tempting to say Merc have been surpassed and are nolonger the benchmark. 4 different tracks and Ferrari have passed the acid test.

    1. The fact that Hamilton has beaten Vettel a few times shows that Vettel is struggling. Not to take much away from Leclerc. But this is more about Vettel’s struggling.

      1. @slotopen What does that even mean? Are you saying that Ferrari is not faster because Vettel is “struggling”?

        Besides, Vettel is simply being crushed by Leclerc. Pretty much the whole season already. It’s just like when Ricciardo was annihilating Vettel (even worse so than Leclerc is right now).

        1. @f1osaurus

          The Ferrari is clearly faster than the Merc. Yet Hamilton has gotten between the Ferrari’s twice since Spa. My conclusion is Vettel is struggling, even losing to Hamilton’s slower Merc occasionally.

          No doubt Leclerc is very good. I’m sure his performance is part of Vettel’s problem. But I’m hesitant to assume Vettel was always this bad. He doesn’t look like the 4 time WDC who one 9 races in a row.

          1. Is he really struggling or that is what he can do, cuz last year this happened a lot. But as he was the faster driver Ferrari had, we couldn’t say clearly that the car was faster when it was. Now we can.

          2. @slotopen What Edvaldo also remarked. Vettel does not look like he is struggling at all. He just can’t do any better.

            When he had Raikkonen or Webber as a team mate that was enough. When he’s up against Ricciardo or Leclerc he gets crushed

          3. Nah, the Ferrari is clearly gotten faster. Vettel has qualified ahead of Hamilton twice in the last 4 races, and Leclerc is 4/4 ahead. Bottas can’t get in front of any Ferrari. The Ferrari has gotten better.

            It is a legit question how long Vettel has struggled. That is much harder to tell. I’m inclined to think this is a new low that it took some time to reach. But maybe he was this bad last year and we couldn’t see plainly. He didn’t seem to have beaten Rikkianon as badly as Alonso did.

            No doubt though, Ferrari and Leclerc have both gotten better.

    2. Tempting or not, it is the truth. Mercedes has fallen behind and Ferrari is clearly the quickest car right now in all types of circuits.

      1. Verstappen and Toto Wolff said they are losing almost 1 second in the straights combined. Ferrari have seen that the only way to win is to be quick on the straights and then to hold everyone up.

        1. Davidson mentioned this on his side by side comparison on the skypad. It’s not that they hold everyone else up, after all, there isn’t much that you can hold up in qualifying. But Ferrari has managed to maintain the straight line speed advantage while finding a way to keep up with their competitors in corners, and a lot of this has been achieved through vehicle set up progress and better tyre understanding. Aerodynamically the team hasn’t brought updates that have been better than what Mercedes or RBR have

        2. Putting most of the development effort into being fastest on the straights was always Enzo’s philosophy, so it is hardly a new idea for Ferrari.

      2. I have to agree. Anthony Davidson just did a side by side shot on the Sky pad and even to armchair critics it is clear that Ferrari is stronger on the straights. I also remember in Monza at the start- HAM got a slightly better start but once they got going Leclerc just pulled away.

        1. I still think the merc will be faster than the ferrari in race trim as was evident in Singapore. The problem merc have is how to get in front of the ferrari as its much faster in a straight linee

      3. Ferrari are fast during qualifications, mercs are still faster during races.

  4. Ferrari car is a beast! Great job from Leclerc, almost half a second faster than Vettel.

    Future for Ferrari looks good.

    1. I would question Mercs current lack of pace. My opinion, and it’s only my opinion, is that Merc have their engines turned down somewhat. There were issues with their latest PU release so I think they are being cautious knowing they only have to see the season out. Take nothing away from Ferrari though. Their PU is immense…I just think the timing of their upturn in fortunes coincides quite significantly to the earlier Merc PU release.
      Bravo CL too. The boy is quick!!

      1. You are maybe right there. Even though, if you think about it, Merc could have won Spa with 1 or 2 more laps, they were quicker in Monza and only Leclerc “heroic” defense kept them behind, were probably faster in Singapore but completely botched their strategy up… For the same price, we could have had 3 HAM victory… There is no doubt that Ferrari had a breakthrough in its development and Merc is probably already very focused on developing 2020, but I’m not sure they delivered their best, lately.

  5. As always Hamilton puts a great lap under pressure to beat Vettel. However, there is no response to Leclerc. Finally a driver that wins when the Ferrari is up to it rather than cracking under pressure. Now, just put Alo in the other car and we have “THE” team to beat.

    1. Except in terms of outright speed Alonso was never the fastest out there something even he admitted.

      1. @blazzz But Alonso is someone who brings the results. Vettel can have a stellar qualifying lap or even a great race, but he can not consistently keep up a challenge like Hamilton or Alonso can.

        1. @f1osaurus, that is exactly the same point that Andrea Stella has made about Alonso as well – that whilst Alonso might not necessarily have been the absolute best in any one particular area, he was remarkably consistent in every single area.

          That was why Stella considered Alonso as one of the great drivers of the sport – it was not necessarily that he was the outright strongest in any one area, but the fact that he was consistently competitive in any attribute, from technical feedback to set up work to wet-weather driving skills. To him, it was that strength in depth that truly made Alonso great – he could not think of any other driver who was able to ever maintain such consistency in every single skill set that a driver required.

        2. @f1osaurus and yet being that consistent had no result at all. ALO lost every title challenge apart from two of which he had the superior machine. Oh, the irony…

          1. @niefer Nonsense. Alonso did the best he could with the machinery he had at Ferrari. The difference is that Vettel blunders away his WDC chances all through the season. Alonso would have taken the 2018 crown by a lot of points. The car was far superior to the Mercedes, but Vettel (and Raikkonen who was hindered by being Vettel’s sidekick) made it look so bad.

          2. @f1osaurus There is no nonsense at bringing up facts. Now, about your wishful thinking, that’s another story…

          3. @niefer, you might consider that to be the case, but you would be in a minority there.

            The McLaren MP4/20 is widely considered as being more technologically advanced than the R25, particularly with regards to the design of the rear suspension (the first example of a car being fitted with an inerter, which McLaren called the “J-damper”, which gave McLaren a significant performance advantage – particularly as their use of confidentiality agreements meant nobody else was allowed to use them until 2008).

            That relates to the Renault R26 and the use of the tuned mass damper on that car – although some pointed the finger at Ferrari for getting the mass damper on the R26 banned at the time, Briatore always maintained that it was McLaren who were responsible. Given the use of a tuned mass damper removed the advantages McLaren got from their interter based suspension system, he was probably right.

            You could perhaps argue that the R26 was a superior car in the earlier part of the 2006 season, but the ban on mass dampers and subsequent modifications to the Ferrari 248 meant that many saw Ferrari as having the best car in the latter half of the season.

            Equally, could you not then throw the same accusations back at Vettel and state that he only won his championships in dominant cars? After all, Adrian Newey gave his personal opinion in 2014 that the RB6 was the car that was capable of producing the most downforce of any car ever in the history of the sport up until that date, and most of the cars that followed after it were pretty close to it in terms of downforce (the RB7, RB8 and RB9 were, to Newey, evolutions of what he considered to already be a pretty dominant car in the shape of the RB6).

          4. Allow me to diverge a bit, @anon. To avoid being way prolix, I’ll try to keep it simple. Having tech advantage does not necessarily mean superiority: the 1991 Season is a good example. I can concur the MP4/20 was the faster car, but the better? I don’t really think so. Too much unreliable. Also, let’s remember Renault won the WCC. IMO, definitely the best package.

            You could perhaps argue that the R26 was a superior car in the earlier part of the 2006 season, but the ban on mass dampers and subsequent modifications to the Ferrari 248 meant that many saw Ferrari as having the best car in the latter half of the season.

            This actually makes my case: ALO build his triumph with a factual dominant car. The second it lost its TMD, we saw him fade. In fact his sole win since then came by a Schumacher’s engine failure. However, his dominance was enough to secure (again) both titles. Pretty similar to VET’s fame if you ask me. Yet, everyone deviates eyes from it.

            However, the key factor here is that both ALO and VET won their titles with the best package, not because of it. Only VET gets the heat though.

            I think it’s plain wrong to state he only won because of dominating cars. In 2010 we had a fairly straight fight, and in 2012 (6 different teams winning), I reckon the faster car was the MP4/27, with RB8 being the best package just as the MP4/20 x R25 equivalence. Also, the F2012 had great race pace, better than RB8 at times. In 2011 the RB8 was dominant, granted, but the sheer dominance after the summer break of 2013 (4 different teams winning, more than 2005/2006, with 3 each) I credit more into VET account alongside the frozen development.

            Ultimately that narrative came greatly by the ALO bubble (gratefully adopted by Ferrari and British respective niches), because he had to explain his defeats to a young gun without looking bad. A vain pattern we’ve seen him apply against HAM, Honda and so on. Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren all had superior dominance eras to Red Bull’s. In the end that detraction only stuck because VET isn’t people’s darling, just as Schumacher and Piquet were not.

            Always a pleasure, anon!

          5. @niefer

            There is no nonsense at bringing up facts.

            The real facts are that
            A) Alonso almost always performed at the maximum of what you can expect from a car.
            B) Vettel is known to mess up many many races during a season throwing away championships even when he does have the superior (or equal) machinery (lookup 2009, 2017 and 2018)

      2. @blazzz He isn’t. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a hell of a driver. Hamilton hasn’t been great in qualifying in the first half of 2019, but it is his consistency and decision-making that means that he is dominant over Bottas. But to be honest, I still rate Alonso as quicker than Vettel, and I believe he’d have a better head to head against Leclerc if he was in Vettel’s seat.

        1. @mashiat

          I agree- my point was that I am not so sure in this era of difficult following it would be the “dream team”. Also lets not forget that Alonso isn’t getting any younger- Webber said after 35 he could feel he had lost some of the cat like reactions. Alonso, if any of the top teams would hire him next year would be 39. Could you confidently say he would be at the same level he was at his peak? I am not so sure.

          1. @blazzz He won’t be, and he doesn’t have to be in order to be better than Vettel. I’d take a 39 year-old Alonso or Hamilton over a prime Vettel any day.

        2. @mashiat

          Hamilton hasn’t been great in qualifying in the first half of 2019

          How so? He had the most pole positions of any driver (8) up until Spa, and beat his teammate 10-3 in qualifying.

          What else does he have to do to be great in qualifying in the first half of the season? Walk on water?

          No, it is not only his consistency and decision-making that has made him dominant over Bottas. It is also his crushing qualifying abilities.

          I find it amazing how people sometimes revise the facts when it comes to Lewis Hamilton.

          1. They begrudgingly accept his abilities, and consequently end up giving weird recollections of the facts, it’s a condition some F1 fans suffer from.

          2. There’s no way hamilton can have had 8 poles until spa cause no one got so many poles this year, you probably mean wins!

          3. @kbdavies What? Are you seriously falsifying facts to make your point? Hamilton has 4 poles this season, the same amount as his teammate. So, please explain how Bottas has only outqualified Hamilton 3 times if he has 4 poles? Pathetic comment.

        3. @mashiat ALO is indeed a great driver. However, he is overrated as hell. In a way, I can relate him to VET: if Seb needs the perfect car to perform superbly, so does Nando regarding the whole team.

          I mean, the only time he hadn’t all the focus on him (and for half a season, btw), we’ve seen him loose his cool, and even cRaCk uNdEr PrEsSuRe, resulting in a defeat with the best car, coming second to his rookie team mate.

          Taking that into account, IMHO there’s no way a LEC-ALO pairing be better for Ferrari than the current one. VET reacts to defeat better than ALO, and that alone may bring more points in the long game than open war at the backstage.

          1. Mclaren 2007 was the 2nd best car, the rookie was performing at a high level on the get go.

    2. Alonso couldn’t even beat Raikkonen without sabotaging his car. Remember, the bit that got him fired out of hand by Ferrari?

      Reality is that Alonso has one great talent, and that’s self promotion. He’s a thoroughly average driver who manages to persuade his fans that fast cars are slow and he’s not to blame – while failing to beat teammates by a margin consistent with the car advantages he insists on having contractually enforced. He is completely poisonous to team spirit, and would rather finish second-last, ahead only of his teammate, than finish second behind his teammate.

      Taken all round, he’s just a horribly nasty person, with a vile racist streak he doesn’t even try to hide. By far the worst person to disgrace F1 in many decades.

      1. @ Dave

        Alonso couldn’t even beat Raikkonen without sabotaging his car.

        Dude, you’re spaced out. If you look at the sky on a sunny day, what colour do you see?

        Hehe, I said it, colour. That’s funny because you can’t even use the space bar more than twice before feeling the urge to call someone racist.

        Seriously, though. You should probably talk to a doctor. About … everything.

  6. Nice one Charles, also what a lap Hamilton yet again showing Vettel up. Lewis Hamilton F1 world champion 2018 in a Ferrari

    1. Agree completely, ofc drivers adapt to different cars differently, but that aside, both alonso or hamilton would win that title in a ferrari.

  7. Was kinda disappointed by LEC in the 1st half of the season, he failed to live up to the expectations I had of him. Expected him to be faster and even more consistent. Dunno what happened, but it’s great to see Ferrari has a top driver for the future and I also hope his improvement is genuine.

    Wonder where this rebirth of Ferrari came from. Is is true Pirelli changed the tyres pressure for Singapore? The new tyre pressure change was kept here too?

    1. I dont know what expectations I had to LEC, but I cant agree on “disappointing”.
      He fail to win first debut race on FER because of the car.
      In multiple occasions his race strategy was damaged to benefit VET.
      The simple fact that, besides all above, he can be ahead of a 4xWC prevents me from be disappointed.

      1. *what expectations you had to LEC

      2. Yes, I had high expectations from leclerc as well but I think even when he struggled a bit early on he was doing just fine, remember bahrain should’ve been his first win, and a ferrari 1-2 if someone could keep the car straight and decent pace!

  8. Mercedes is sooooo dominant. It’s so boring.
    Reality is Lewis is flattering that car. Look at Bottas 2.0 performances lately. Lewis the only one challenging the ‘Jet Engine’ Ferraris. Mercedes consistently loosing 7-8 tenths on the starights.

    1. @amg44 Bottas bailing out of the second lap in 13 and coming 5th? It’s like it doesn’t matter any more now he’s signed up again. Isn’t there supposed to be a championship fight on?

      1. They should have got rid of Bottas but I would hazard a guess that Toto was influenced by the shenanigans at Red Bull and was trying to prove a point about stability. Personally, I wish Hulkenberg was given a chance instead of Bottas again.

        1. @john-h My wish was for Ricciardo to be signed for this season, or Russell for next, but Hulkenberg would be different at least. Next season is going to be tough for Mercedes unless they can develop their version of the Ferrari booster pack.

          1. @david-br Agreed, Ricciardo in that other Mercedes would be great. Or perhaps even better if he could take over from Vettel in the Ferrari.

      2. Its unfortunate Redbull are having their problems with penalties otherwise Bottas -2.0 lame performances would be punished even more. And with the speed of Ferraris i am sure he is not going to be 2nd in the championship for long.

        1. @amg44 That’s true. Though Hamilton is way ahead in the WDC, were Red Bull better, they’d be potentially looking at Leclerc finishing P1 for these remaining races and the Mercedes back in 5th and 6th on straight car performance. Those point differences would start to matter even on a 96 point lead.

          1. If Leclerc wins all 6 remaining races, gets the fastest lap point in all of them, and Hamilton finishes 5th in every race, they’ll be tied in points and wins.

            Even if Red Bull were to consistently beat Mercedes, Hamilton just has to finish every race.

    2. @amg44
      He is now. But you can’t overlook the fact that it was the class of the field in the first half of the season (10 wins out of 12 races and 8 pole positions).
      Now that Ferrari have caught up and have the quicker qualifying-car, Hamilton is making the difference and Bottas is struggling.

    3. Lewis, now knows what the rest of the field felt like from 2014 to end of 2017.

      1. Yea, probably similar to what Lewis felt like when the RB and Brawn got their five championships. I say similar, because despite the dominance of RB and Brawn, Ham still got wins.

  9. Leclerc quicker than Vettel in qualifying, quicker and better in races. There’s just no way back from this for Vettel. I don’t buy that this is down to a ‘bad phase.’ That may apply to his race mistakes, but he’s clearly at his maximum potential in terms of speed and being soundly beaten.

    1. David (@billyboltaction)
      28th September 2019, 17:07

      I was playing a game of what if earlier. What if we still had Kimi in the Ferrari? I think we would have seen Lewis on pole here and possibly in spa and monza as well. I also think we would be looking at Lewis on 3 wins since the summer Break. LeClerc is making a massive difference.

    2. It depends, somewhat ironically, on whether Vettel was underperforming last year, or that was his true level. My impression is that last year he drove fairly well, and was simply beaten by Hamilton being even better. This year, on the other hand, Ferrari as a whole were under the weather in the first half of the season, and lately he may have just been in a brief slump for a few races.

      1. Vettel drove fairly BAD in 2018, he made too many mistakes, he did better in 2017 with a worse car, that should say enough.

        In my opinion and also that of any analytical pundit, ferrari was inferior to mercedes in 2017 overall and pretty even in 2018.

        1. Do mistakes indicate bad driving, necessarily? It’s also possible mistakes happen because a very good driver, driving at his best, is being pushed beyond his ability trying to beat someone faster.

          Vettel made one clear unforced error last year, by my recollection, and apart from that seemed to be forced into errors by the need to take risks in pursuit of the maximum speed his car and talent were capable of.

          It’s worth remembering that Hamilton was absolutely on fire last season, and the string of flawless performances was remarkable even by his standards. Hamilton at the top of his game will make the second best driver look ordinary, but that’s not a fair comparison.

  10. 9 times in a row i think i heard the 4x WC has been outqualified by a 2nd year driver, Leclerc is a superstar but how embarassing is that.

    1. And that shows Vettel was underperforming in those very competitive 2017 and 2018 Ferraris. Wonder how Charles would have performed in those Cars.

      1. …and having BOT is the other Mercedes, I guess we won’t know how good that Mercedes truly was.

      2. Exactly and Ferrari could have won atleast one driver’s championship in that years.

    2. There is nothing embarrassing about being defeated by a better driver.
      Strange conclusion.

      1. Saying it like that ignores the important points dan is alluding to.

        1. @gufdamm, none of those “points” relate to LEC. So no comparison possible there. Yes VE was great and one of the best. LEC ( and VER and HAM) are better. Nothing to be ashamed about. Being beaten by a better driver is nothing to be ashamed for.

  11. Vettel…hmmmm.
    Can he handle that pressure?

  12. Can’t see why Leclerc won’t make it 5 in a row.

  13. I don’t do the “Fan” thing but damn I like Leclerc.

    I want him and Max up front in the best cars giving each other nightmare races whilst granddads Lewis and Seb reminisce about the old days and Alonso provides radio commentary.

    I might even subscribe for something like that.

    1. @nullapax Hmm, unfair to Lewis. Since Max and Red Bull have gone off the boil, he’s been the only one to chase down wins and provide some excitement at the front. He’s also maximizing that car. And TBH I’d like Alonso back in F1 too. Leclerc, Verstappen and Hamilton and Alonso fighting it out, what wouldn’t be to like?!

      1. Alonso.. That’s really old stuff.

      2. I am always unfair to Championship leaders … I don’t worship leaders.

        That four way mix you propose would be awesome in so many ways and the after race interviews possibly even better :)

        1. @nullapax

          I don’t worship leaders.

          A healthy attitude in general :0)

    2. Well unfortunately Max is driving a car that lacks grip, balance and speed. That makes it very difficult to drive. Redbull looked like they found the sweet spot of the car just before the summer break but they’re still just the 3 best car.

      Take a look at the pole lap from Leclerc. The car is very stable and balanced while cornering. And it’s speed is very, very impressive.

      It’s sad for Max, because he’s having his best season so far. But it doesn’t bring him much. He crushes his teammates in a way that makes them look like they can’t drive. And he manages to finish ahead of theoretically faster cars almost every GP.

      1. @anunaki It’s also a sign that Verstappen is not able to lead the team in the right direction for developing the car.

        1. Max is an immense talent and a wunderkind. Nobody in their right mind would expect him to be leading the development charge at Red Bull. He maximises the car, on every track, which is more than enough for the technical guys, with all the data, to see what needs to be done.

          1. @gufdamm, as Verstappen is the senior driver at Red Bull now, it is Verstappen’s role to be the leader when it comes to technical feedback.

            At the very minimum, it is his responsibility for directing things such as the set up direction that the teams should use. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t – the Singapore GP is one example, as Verstappen had pushed the team to use a stiffer suspension set up this year, compared to previous years, based on his work in the simulator, but in practise the circuit was rougher than they expected and the suspension set up Verstappen had pushed for was too stiff in the end.

            Now, in terms of long term development, there is indeed more of an argument over how important the technical feedback of the driver is. I generally tend to take a more middling tone, in that whilst I do not agree it is as important as some suggest it is, I wouldn’t agree with the position that it is totally irrelevant either – it is probably of reduced importance these days, but something that can still be of use to the engineers and something where the drivers can still have some influence, even if it may be an indirect influence.

          2. @anon

            If the simulator doesn’t match the track, that is not on Max. He is not a simulator developer.

          3. @aapje, in that case there seems to have been some error in the calibration of the simulator, but you are missing the point of the argument by focussing on that.

            The point is, Verstappen is in a position where he is giving technical leadership to the team, and in this case pushed the team towards making changes to the way that they approached this weekend that was different to how they would have approached it in previous years.

            In this case, it seems that this potential calibration issue with the simulator yielded misleading results, meaning Verstappen made his judgement based on misleading information and it so happened that, in this case, that unintentionally led the team down an incorrect set up path.

            It was to show, however, that a driver can influence the approach of the engineers to a race weekend and how they can influence factors relating to strategy, set up etc. away from the approach that engineers have taken in the past. It wasn’t, as you seem to think it was, a slight on Verstappen specifically, but instead meant to be a way of showing how the drivers are being looked towards to help give the team direction on at least some technical matters.

        2. I don’t know if that’s true. After all Redbull has a significant lower budget than the other 2 top team plus a customer engine.

          Max is actually making the car look better than it in reality is. But I doubt he should be telling Honda and Newey what to do.

          1. @anunaki, Red Bull are the official works team for Honda right now, so it isn’t really correct to call it a “customer engine” – I would consider that term to be more applicable for outfits like Racing Point, Alfa Romeo or McLaren.

            In the case of Red Bull, there is a direct integration of Honda’s staff into the hierarchy of Red Bull that does not exist in those other teams, and there is a far greater deal of technical exchange between the two sides. That, to me, is not a “customer engine” arrangement – that is a far more extensive level of support, both technically and financially, than you would normally expect for a “customer engine” arrangement.

            That does mean that you need to have a slight caveat when comparing budgets and resources – to some extent, some of the development work that Mercedes or Ferrari will be doing in-house is work that Honda will be undertaking on behalf of Red Bull, so the picture is probably not quite as unfavourable as you suggest.

        3. Me and @gufdamm have disagreed often (he told me to shut up once!) but I think we are together on this one.
          Mr Verstappen is putting that car where only the best of drivers could put it.
          Max has what it takes to be the WDC and is worthy of the title as a racing driver but he lacks the tools and I fear that he may get swamped by this seasons influx of rookies.

          1. @nullapax hahaha…I did? I apologise, i’m trying my best not to be triggered on here (some these guys make it hard). Once Max continues to demolish his teammates he won’t have any problem, finding a better drive, if/when he is ready.

  14. I love the consistent bashing here on drivers. First all just about every driver in F1 is a world class driver. The difference between them and anyone else is the car they drive and how well it matches their style.

    1. That’s a bit to simple.
      Three drivers at the moment are able to outdrive the xar. LEC, ver, Ham.
      Look at the “other” world class driver in those teams and compare the results with that xar.

    2. There is a difference between “world-class driver” and “world-class F1 driver”.

  15. Are those so called fans who were screaming how boring and predictable F1 was at the beginning on the season (just because Hamilton was winning) now say it’s now just as boring with Ferrari always winning?

  16. I wished Grosjean Just relied more on his talent and was more sure that it was there. Great great lap.

    1. It feels as if he’s holding himself back, remember that season when he would just complain about the brakes?


    2. @tango on a good day Grosjean is able to fight with the great. On a bad day even the torpedo should be afraid.

  17. Charles is the new king of hot laps. Quel jeune homme rapide.
    Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations.

    1. Ah ok, so when it’s someone else, it’s the driver, but when it’s Hamilton, then it’s the car.

      1. No, its the other way around, or a combination thereof.

  18. Same old story for seb. Over complicating things, getting under pressure, cracking. Like web always said, he needs a voice on his ear. The pressure of expectation.

    1. @peartree

      He doesn’t usually blink during a qually lap, let alone crack. Ferrari have already said they are looking at helping him with the car.

  19. There will be no more major updates for Mercedes and Ferrari this year so I wouldn’t be surprised if Leclerc wins all the remaining Qualifying sessions this season. His driving style is so fluent with his Ferrari rocket. This year it is too late for Leclerc to fight with Lewis for the tittle, but 2nd place in WDC is almost certain for Leclerc.

    1. @bulgarian

      Lewis has often had better race pace but still can’t beat the new kid

  20. Hulk to Ferrari looks kinda good

  21. McLaren exceeding the expectations again!
    I honestly thought the Renaults and the Haas were half a second faster but somehow it failed to materialize.
    And with Verstappen having a grid penalty and Albon at the back of it 5th and 7th is looking very good for both Sainz and Norris.
    Sainz has a realistic chance to overtake Gasly in the WDC for 6th and Norris hopefully will break into the first 10 positions.

  22. For the fourth qualifying-session in a row, no one managed to better the 2018 pole time. What’s with this sudden trend now?

    1. @jerejj Spa and Monza I understand to some extent, with the increased drag of these cars. Singapore, I’m not sure why they would be slower than 12 months ago, and it’s the same with Russia.

    2. @jerejj, I’ve seen it suggested that, compared to last year, Pirelli’s tyre selections are more conservative than they were in 2018, so some of it will be down to the choice of slightly harder compounds.

      There are also changes to the tyre blanket temperatures, which have been dropped compared to 2018. The tyres being brought here do have higher working temperature ranges, so part of it may also be the fact that the tyres are less likely to be in the optimum working range this year.

      That is probably also being compounded by the use of higher minimum tyre pressures as well – those have crept up compared to last year – and signs that the maximum amount of camber which can be used on the front tyres has been reduced slightly (by about 0.25 degrees).

  23. Ferrari has seen the light at last. Fast cars and good drivers. In the end the checkered flag counts. So we wait.

  24. Leclerc reminds me of Fernando Alonso! Faultless drives under pressure with good speed. Both have the same caliber which is to save the world by ending the Top team’s long domination period.

    1. Tbh this is quite a good comparison!
      Alonso dethroned one of the most dominant eras of F1, and leclerc can do the same next season.

    2. Leclerc reminds me of Fernando Alonso!

      oh no..
      Ferrari is in for a bad time then.

      1. No not really, may be Fernando is/was not one of the best qualifier but he is/was exactly one of the best race driver of all time.

        1. All I can/could think/thunk of is Tiswas!

      2. Quite recently both Andretti Racing and Toyota said he was a fantastic driver to work with. He impressed them both with how quickly he adapted and how well he got on with the staff and other drivers.
        We shouldn’t believe those myths.

        1. Myths? Andretti and Toyota both said that it is absolutely out of the question that they would ever work with him again, given his behaviour towards teammates. No idea how you upend that into praise.

  25. Missing the last qualifying chart

  26. I just watched a video where they compare the Q3 laps of Leclerc and Lewis. That Ferrari is just unbelievably fast on the straights. Lewis actually had a better lap. How the hell is Seb not on the first row?

    1. @anunaki

      Seb has deteriorated a bit more than Lewis. The old Lewis or even Rosberg would have been on pole. Leclerc, wow, he really is the real deal.

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