Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022

Leclerc salvages pole after spin as DRS problem thwarts Verstappen

2022 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying

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Charles Leclerc claimed pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix at the chequered flag after spinning on his first attempt in Q3.

The Ferrari driver claimed his second consecutive pole ahead of championship rival Max Verstappen, after the Red Bull driver lost power in his car on his final flying lap.

Carlos Sainz Jnr took third on the grid, ahead of the Mercedes of George Russell and Sergio Perez in fifth. Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race from sixth position.


Track temperatures were approaching 50C under the baking hot Spanish sun when the pit lane opened for the first phase of qualifying in Barcelona. Zhou Guanyu was the first to venture onto the circuit, with Pierre Gasly also taking to the track after car problems limited his running in third practice.

Lando Norris had to take avoiding action on his way out of the pits when Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin appeared to be released directly in front of the McLaren. The stewards will investigate the incident after the race.

The two Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen were the first of the front runners to take to the track, with the world champion’s first effort over three tenths faster than his team mate. They were then usurped by the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr, who moved to the top of the times.

Nearing the end of the session, Mick Schumacher was sitting in the drop zone in 18th, but managed to improve on his next lap to jump into the top ten, with Gasly also improving to move out of the drop zone. That left the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso under threat, but Alonso caught traffic at the chicane on his out-lap, getting stuck behind Norris who was about to start a lap. Alonso abandoned the run, which would mean he was eliminated from the very first session.

Also knocked out were Sebastian Vettel in 16th, ahead of Alonso and Aston Martin team mate Lance Stroll in 18th. The two Williams of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi were the last drivers eliminated, occupying the back row of the grid in 19th and 20th.

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Q1 result

116Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’19.9003
255Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’19.9000.0003
31Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’20.1000.2003
463George RussellMercedesW131’20.2000.3005
520Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’20.2000.3006
644Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’20.3000.4006
777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’20.4000.5006
811Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’20.4000.5005
924Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’20.5000.6009
103Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’20.5000.6006
1147Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’20.7000.8006
1222Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’20.7000.8009
1310Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’20.7000.8009
144Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’20.8000.9006
1531Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’20.9001.0003
165Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’21.0001.1006
1714Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’21.0001.1005
1818Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’21.4001.5006
1923Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’21.6001.7006
206Nicholas LatifiWilliams-MercedesFW441’22.0002.1009


It was a slow start to the second session of qualifying with teams seemingly reluctant to take to the track in the early minutes. With the need to save fresh tyre sets for Q3 and the race so important, the two Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz and the Red Bull of Verstappen all took to the track on a used set of softs for their first runs.

With new tyres on their cars, the Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton went quickest overall, with Russell three tenths faster than his team mate. Sergio Perez took third place on new softs, ahead of Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas also on new sets of tyres.

As the track fell silent while teams prepared for their second runs, Daniel Ricciardo sat in the drop zone along with Ocon, Zhou and the two AlphaTauris of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly. Everyone then took to the track, bar the two Mercedes and Leclerc, who opted to remain in the garage and preserve tyres.

Sainz was the first contender to cross the line, going fastest of all on a 1’19.453. Tsunoda and Ocon both improved, but not by enough to get them into the top ten. Ricciardo and Norris both found time in their McLarens, knocking Mick Schumacher out in 11th.

But then, Norris was suddenly back in the drop zone after his best lap time was deleted by race director Eduardo Freitas for narrowly exceeding track limits on the exit of turn 12. That allowed Schumacher through to Q3 for the first time in his career and ended Norris’s qualifying.

Esteban Ocon was knocked out of the session in 12th, ahead of the two AlphaTauris of Tsunoda and Gasly. Zhou was the last driver out in 15th place.

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Q2 result

11Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’19.2199
255Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’19.4530.2349
363George RussellMercedesW131’19.4700.2518
444Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’19.7940.5759
520Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’19.8100.59112
611Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’19.8300.61111
716Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’19.9690.7506
877Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’20.0530.83412
93Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’20.2871.06812
1047Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’20.4361.21712
114Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’20.4711.25212
1231Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’20.6381.4199
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’20.6391.42015
1410Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’20.8611.64215
1524Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’21.0941.87515

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It appeared to be the most open Q3 of the season so far with Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes all potentially in the mix for pole position. The two Haas were the first cars out on the circuit, but Hamilton was the first big name to start his opening flying lap of the session.

Hamilton’s 1’19.664 was beaten by team mate Russell, then by Perez and Sainz. Leclerc went purple in the middle sector, but spun at the chicane in the final sector, ruining that first effort and left him with only one lap available for him to secure a decent starting position for Sunday’s race.

Verstappen took advantage of Leclerc’s error to take provisional pole, three-and-a-half tenths ahead of Sainz in second and team mate Perez in third. All ten cars returned to the pits until three-and-a-half minutes remaining, when Leclerc ventured out onto the circuit first to attempt what would be his only lap of the session.

Leclerc’s first sector was only fractions slower than Verstappen’s pole time, but his middle sector was almost a quarter-of-a-second quicker. The Ferrari driver crossed the line to set a 1’18.750 to beat Verstappen by over three tenths of a second while, behind him, team mate Sainz improved on his time but not by enough to move from his third place.

Verstappen’s final effort was ruined when he reported having “no power” from his car down the main straight, backing off from his final lap midway through the long turn three and leaving him unable to improve on his time. With neither Russell, Perez or Hamilton able to get close to Leclerc’s time, the Ferrari driver secured pole position – his second in a row after taking pole in Miami.

Verstappen had to settle for second on the grid ahead of Sainz in third. Russell’s final lap was good enough to move him up to fourth, ahead of Perez in fifth and Hamilton the slowest of the top three teams in sixth place.

Valtteri Bottas claimed seventh on the grid in the Alfa Romeo behind his former team mate, with Kevin Magnussen taking eighth. Ricciardo will start from ninth on the grid, ahead of Mick Schumacher, who secured the best grid position of his career in tenth place.

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Q3 result

116Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’18.75011
21Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’19.0730.32314
355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’19.1660.41615
463George RussellMercedesW131’19.3930.64314
511Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’19.4200.67017
644Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’19.5120.76215
777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’19.6080.85818
820Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’19.6820.93218
93Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’20.2971.54715
1047Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’20.3681.61818

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2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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32 comments on “Leclerc salvages pole after spin as DRS problem thwarts Verstappen”

  1. Norris seemed to have two wheels on the track, though, so surprising.
    The width between the gravel edge & white line is too narrow for the entire car width without touching the gravel & he didn’t, so how could he have had right-hand side wheels over the line?

  2. Charles is the best qualifier I’ve seen since Schumacher. He was under pressure after making a mistake and he did a mega lap, without a safe lap to fall back to. “Leclerc salvages pole” is a bit weak in my opinion.

    1. Excellent lap.

    2. “Leclerc salvages pole” is a bit weak in my opinion.

      It is the narrative here, Leclerc salvages pole or Verstappen have an impediment that makes Leclerc have pole like in last Miami GP.
      Must not put any Leclerc merit in the title.

      1. Ahh but its so great to see the egotistical little twerp not get it, hopefully his car breaks tomorrow.

        1. Funny, I’ve been saying the same about Hamilton

        2. Ha ha ha ha!
          Great win, Max.

      2. But he did salvage pole after a spin cost him his first run. The pressure was immense to perform on a single lap and he did it. There’s no controversy to see here.

    3. Considering Leclerc put it P1 in all previous sessions (save for Q2 where he didn’t use a new set of tyres), he was the favourite for the pole. Yet he almost threw it away with his spin, so salvage seems quite apt as the pole that seemed to be his was indeed in danger, and he recovered it nicely.

      That said, and as Palmer pointed out in the commentary, the banker lap is mostly just there in case of a technical issue or a yellow flag. No driver goes into his final run without giving it everything. So in that sense Leclerc’s run wasn’t any different from Sainz’ or Russell’s, but obviously it’ll have been in the back of Leclerc’s mind that any issue would mean a P10 start.

      1. MichaelN And that’s the point as you say. He put himself in a spot where he had no fallback plan. The banker lap can also save a driver from diminishing speed in the track due to conditions, or ensure not having wasted a set of new tires. ‘Salvage’ is the appropriate word here imho too, and it needn’t mean anything too harsh or critical other than for those that wish to read more into it.

        It would seem that for a few posters here if it was Max that made that spin he’d be the laughing stock of the day and at a bare minimum ‘salvage’ for them would probably not be nearly harsh enough.

        1. No it is not.
          No one except a person with a negative agenda uses “salvage” to say that in last lap with bigger pressure of being only 10th if he fails, a driver makes a brilliant lap >0.3 sec faster than anyone else putting him in the first place. Salvage is if he would be or 3-4th not in top.

          The title has nothing positive. It does not celebrate F1.

  3. Amazing pole lap by Charles Leclerc after the spin on his first run! So much for Charles being “mentally weak” as some keyboard warriors have labeled him after Imola 😅
    Great effort by Verstappen as well to put his RB on the front row. I didn’t expect RB to be this strong around Barcelona. A shame Max had to abort his final lap due to a DRS failure, but it likely didn’t have an impact on his position.
    While these two did great their #2s didn’t make a good impression. Both ,Sainz and Pérez were too far away from their teammates and the RB driver even got outqualified by a Mercedes. The most painful part today was seeing Carlos Sainz Sr. handing the pole position trophy to Charles Leclerc. That’s like a slap in the face to Carlos Jr.
    While Mercedes made good progress and even managed to outqualify one RB, the gap to the front of the midfield is still not very big. Russell was just 0.2 and 0.3 ahead of Bottas/Magnussen.
    The Haas really surprises me this weekend. Their strong pace might not have come out of the blue, as they were already among the top 10 in practice, but I didn’t expect KMag to put in such an amazing lap! I love the irony in this situation 🤣 Haas are running in a car that virtually hasn’t changed in three months and get within a couple of tenths of P4, while Aston Martin bring a big upgrade and don’t even make it into Q2.
    I felt a little bad for Lando Norris for losing his spot in Q3. I don’t know why race direction was even monitoring track limits in T12, because the lap time gain there is minimal.

    1. Mentally weak? Okay then.. this guy has done the following:
      – Won a race just a day after his father passed away.
      – Won a race a day after one of his best friends passed away.
      – Won a race under the most intense pressure during an entire race I have ever seen at that time since 2010 by the most succesful team in F1 history and against the most successful driver of all time.

      These three situations are more than enough.

      1. You know he’s agreeing with you right?

        I’m just glad the egotistical little twerp Max didn’t get it, hopefully his car breaks tomorrow.

        1. lol… got that off your chest….is it out of fear Max will beat Leclerc again?

        2. @cheesebucket
          I think you are going to be disappointed.

        3. Sounds like a shamilton fan

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        21st May 2022, 18:00

        I certainly wouldn’t say he’s mentally weak. He makes far too mistakes but with more experience of fighting at the front, they’ll reduce.

    2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      21st May 2022, 17:29

      Race directors this year decided that the whole track will be monitored and the white line is the limit. That is why Lando had his lap deleted.

      For the car to end up there the corner entry speed was too high which I suspect would net an advantage if allowed.

  4. Verstappen will win tomorrow. It is becoming a pattern: Ferrari slightly quicker in qualifying but slower in the race with higher tyre wear

    1. Indeed, and with F1 doubling down on keeping DRS despite the so-called biggest aero-overhaul ever, Red Bull’s better tyre management and better straight line speed is going to make them shrug ever so slightly at another Ferrari pole. So far the Red Bull team has had the faster (not better, as it’s had too many issues) car everywhere except in Australia.

      Leclerc was also pretty open and honest about the possibility of Verstappen overtaking him later on in the stints when he spoke after quali, so at least they know that’s their main issue performance-wise at the moment. Hopefully the first serious upgrades Ferrari brings will help them address those two weaknesses.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        21st May 2022, 18:01

        Its extremely hard to overtake at this track though. He won’t just blast past with DRS like he has before.

        1. There’s always the undercut/overcut.

      2. Take Verstappen away and Ferrari is by far the better car…it’s is not like the drivers don’t matter, with perez steady behind Sainz in near every race and unable to fight Ferrari any conclusion based on RBR being the better car is purely based on Verstappen’s and only Verstappen’s results….wonder what he could do in a Ferrari?

        1. Matn, a bit bold to claim that when we really only have a couple of races where you can run a comparison between Sainz and Perez, and where the evidence from those races really doesn’t support your position in the way you think it does.

          In Bahrain, Perez and Sainz were very evenly matched on lap times throughout that race – Sainz got a lead of about 2 seconds in the opening laps thanks to Perez’s poor start dropping him temporarily behind Hamilton, but once Perez passed Hamilton, Sainz was unable to pull any further ahead from Perez and the two were matching times throughout the remainder of the race until the late reliability issues.

          In Jeddah, Perez started that race ahead of Sainz and, in the opening laps, managed to open up a lead of 8 seconds over Sainz – Sainz only got ahead of Perez thanks to the safety car coming out just after Perez had pitted. Having gained track position thanks to the safety car, Sainz wasn’t able to pull any further than about 2 seconds ahead of Perez – again, the lap times were very evenly matched thereafter.

          Similarly, when you look at the times from Miami, Perez and Sainz were again very evenly matched in terms of lap times during that race.

          When you run a detailed comparison of the lap times from those races, you can’t say that Perez has been “unable to challenge Sainz” – in the three races where you can run a comparison, they’ve been very evenly matched in terms of lap times, and the balance really should be 2-1 overall given that Sainz was ultimately lucky with the safety car timing in Jeddah.

          1. ‘Evenly matched’ as in Perez being behind Sainz most of the time unable to catch him, while Verstappen finished P1 in all races he started in 2022, beating both Ferrari’s from pole or behind.

            As mentioned if Verstappen would have been stuck behind, like Perez, no one would mention RBR as ‘best’ car.
            Sainz crashed a lot, but that doesn’t say anything about Ferrari’s true potential.

            Check race by race and the outcome is still similar, Pere unable to fight Ferrari

        2. Matn Can’t say I agree. SP is sitting 13 points up on Sainz, and he is sitting 19 points back of Max. I think he is doing relatively better this season than he ever has. He’s obviously way more comfortable this year than last because of the car.

          And it’s always a car/driver/team combo, so why take Max away and put him in a Ferrari unless you intend on reinventing history and giving him time to be engrained on the team to really see what he could do? Same with if Max had had a chance at LH’s Mercedes. The fair comparison last year was between Max in his first year of having a Championship level car vs LH in his 8th straight season of having the proven WCC car. Even in your imagination you can’t just realistically swap drivers around, plop them in a strange car, and expect instant everything.

          For now both Max/RBR and CL/Ferrari are the duos to beat but they’re walking away from the field in the races. Let’s leave both of them in their very close cars and see where the season goes.

        3. Take Leclerc away and RBR is by far the better car… with Max being miles ahead of all other drivers and no one on the grid to challenge him.

  5. Leclerc is making Sainz look really bad this year.

    1. I’d say Sainz is making Sainz look bad this year.

  6. Nicely mixed grid. Could be an interesting race. Hopefully the DRS isn’t as effective as it was in the last few races, and the driver in front has a chance to defend.

  7. Now that’s how you update the car – Russell gets a position before a Red Bull, and another Mercedes is right behind. For sure, Russell is going to lose 4th to Perez, but he has a chance for another top 5. I also hope that Russell will do an Alonso at the start and will lead the race after the first corner. Alonso did it twice.

    Alpine, as expected, has got even further down the grid after their so called “updates”. If Bottas doesn’t botch it up, then Alpine might be looking at 6th place at the end of the season.
    McLarens look weak.

    I hope Ferrari wins it, but realistically, there’s no chance. Red Bull is a much better car in race than Ferrari.

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