Bottas victorious at Suzuka as Mercedes secures constructors’ title

Valtteri Bottas took his first Formula 1 win since Baku to help Mercedes clinch a sixth consecutive constructors’ championship as a jump start and first-corner clash from Ferrari ended the chance of a strong result at Suzuka.

Bottas launched from third to first on the run to the first corner, passing both Ferraris as Leclerc got away slowly while poleman Vettel lost momentum by moving slightly before the five red lights went out.

That put Bottas into a lead, while Vettel avoided a jump-start penalty – despite television replays clearly showing he moved before the red lights went out – to finish in second position but could not stop Mercedes taking the teams’ title.

After Vettel immediately dropped to second, Leclerc’s race was massively compromised moments later at the first corner.

Max Verstappen swept around the outside of Lewis Hamilton and Leclerc after a superior start in his Red Bull, but Leclerc then ran deep into Turn 2 as the corner tightened.

He went wide and made contact with Verstappen, throwing the Red Bull driver off-track and breaking his own front wing.

Leclerc continued for two laps in third position, irritating Hamilton as the Ferrari’s damaged wing showered the chasing Mercedes with sparks and then debris – which broke Hamilton’s right-side wing mirror.

On lap three, Leclerc pit, dropping to the back of the field and behind Verstappen, as race control communicated their first-lap incident would be investigated after all, having initially said it was not necessary.

As Leclerc charged back to sixth, Verstappen struggled with an oddly-handling, damaged car and retired on lap 15, with the clash investigation moving to after the race.

Vettel’s fortune with the race officials allowed him to stay in the lead fight and hold up Hamilton, allowing Bottas to take control and he stretched his lead.

Ferrari moved first in the strategy fight, pitting Vettel on lap 16 with Bottas following suit one lap later and Hamilton stopping on lap 18.

In that time, Bottas’s advantage over Vettel rose while Hamilton fell more than 20 seconds adrift, a move that left him feeling frustrated over the radio.

All three committed to a two-stop strategy, but used it differently: Vettel pit on lap 31 of 53 and ditched his softs for mediums, while the Mercedes ran longer and opted for softs.

Bottas stopped on lap 36, at which point he was 14 seconds clear of Hamilton, and Hamilton ran an extra seven laps before making his final visit to the pits.

That left Bottas leading Vettel by under 10 seconds, with Hamilton within five seconds behind the Ferrari and armed with fresher, softer tyres.

With five laps to go Hamilton moved into DRS range and had half a look into Turn 2 but Vettel didn’t budge and Hamilton ran slightly wide.

Hamilton had a better chance with three laps to go when Vettel got stuck at the final chicane trying to lap a Toro Rosso, backing Vettel into Hamilton and giving Hamilton a great run.

However, Hamilton closed too late on the straight to attack, and Vettel retained the place to the end.

Bottas’s win, his first since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, reduced Hamilton’s championship lead to 66 points with 104 still on offer.

Alex Albon scored his best Formula 1 result with fourth position for Red Bull, despite falling behind both McLarens at the start.

He made one of those places back early on with a lunge on Lando Norris that resulted in wheel-to-wheel contact into the final chicane.

Albon got ahead of Carlos Sainz by stopping twice as Sainz implemented a one-stop strategy to finish a fine fifth.

McLaren should have had a double points finish but, after being hit by Albon, Norris had to make an early pitstop because debris from Leclerc’s broken wing got caught in his brake ducts. He eventually finished P13.

Daniel Ricciardo charged to seventh position, executing a very long first stint on medium tyres then switching to softs at the end and picking off several cars with just a few laps remaining

He passed teammate Nico Hulkenberg for ninth and promised his Renault team “I’ll get them” as he pursued Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly, who he then picked off on successive laps.

Stroll faded from the top ten late on, with Hulkenberg nicking ninth and Sergio Perez set to steal the final point from Racing Point teammate Stroll on his penultimate lap.

However, having also passed Hulkenberg, Perez crashed out on the final lap after contact with Gasly, promoting Stroll to P10.

So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas in winning the Japanese Grand Prix. His first since Baku earlier this season. As for Mercedes, an incredible achievement in winning the constructors’ title for the sixth successive time. All that hard work has paid off with this fine result as champions.

Japanese Grand Prix race results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes  1:21:46.755
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +13.343s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +13.858s
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda +59.537s
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault +69.101s
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +1 lap
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault +1 lap
8 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda +1 lap
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1 lap
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes +1 lap
11 Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda +1 lap
12 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault +1 lap
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
14 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes +1 lap
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes +2 laps
20 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda DNF

Super Sebastian on pole at Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel achieve a commanding pole position at Suzuka as Ferrari overturned rival Mercedes practice pace advantage to lock out the front row.

Vettel led the way throughout Q3 at Suzuka, setting a one minute, 27.2 seconds lap on his first run and improving to a one minute, 27.0 seconds best on his final run to claim his first P1 since the Canadian Grand Prix.

Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc found three tenths of a second between his two Q3 runs, but missed out on making it five poles in succession and saw his streak of nine straight qualifying victories over Vettel come to an end.

Having dominated Friday practice, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton both had disappointing first runs in Q3 to only get third and fourth, behind the Ferraris.

Bottas, who led the way in both sessions, improved to one minute, 27.2 seconds on his final run but still missed out on the front row by 0.040 seconds.

Championship leader Hamilton was less than one hundredth of a second behind in fourth position.

Max Verstappen, who suffered a power loss on his Red Bull-Honda in Q2, and teammate Alex Albon set identical times in locking out row three of the grid. Verstappen claimed fifth by setting his one minute, 27.851 seconds lap before Albon did.

Carlos Sainz continued his strong form by again qualifying best of the rest for McLaren, 0.160 seconds clear of teammate Lando Norris.

Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso-Honda and Romain Grosjean’s Haas rounded out the top ten, Gasly almost four tenths down on Norris and Grosjean over half a second adrift of Gasly.

Antonio Giovinazzi, Lance Stroll and Kimi Raikkonen narrowly missed out on the top ten during the late rush of improvements at the end of Q2.

Giovinazzi was just over a tenth adrift of Grosjean, while Stroll and Raikkonen missed the cut by just over two tenths.

Daniil Kvyat was two tenths further back after making only a small gain on his final run, while Nico Hulkenberg was cut well adrift in P15.

Hulkenberg was unable to complete the Q2 session after suffering a “major problem” on his Renault. He complained of feeling something “funny” with the power steering and gear shift on his out-lap.

Daniel Ricciardo missed out too by just under a tenth of a second in the other Renault, despite finding six tenths of a second between his first and second runs in Q1.

Sergio Perez’s Racing Point was P17, half a second down on Ricciardo and only 0.020 seconds faster than George Russell’s improved Williams.

The lack of grip and windy conditions early on in qualifying appeared to catch out Kevin Magnussen and Robert Kubica, who both crashed out at the turn just before the start/finish line before setting a lap time.

Kubica struck the barrier at the end of his out-lap, wrecking his Williams and causing the qualifying session to be red-flagged.

Television replays showed Kubica understeering off the circuit onto the grass on the outside as he tried to negotiate the kink. He described it as a “f***ing joke” before returning back to the pits.

Magnussen then hit the barrier after going off at the same place shortly after the session resumed, causing a second red flag period.

The Haas driver lost control of the rear of his car, and managed to limp back to the pits with front and rear wing damage after spinning into the barrier, but he did not re-emerge from the garage.

Despite the red flags in the early part of qualifying, the end result was the red cars finishing first and second on the grid. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel with pole position with his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc alongside. Bring on the race!

Japanese Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:27.064
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:27.253
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:27.293
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.302
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:27.851
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:27.851
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:28.304
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:28.464
9 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:28.836
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:29.341
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:29.254
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point=Mercedes 1:29.345
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo=Ferrari 1:29.358
14 Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:29.563
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.112
16 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:29.822
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:30.344
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:30.364
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari –
20 Robert Kubica Williams- Mercedes –

Hamilton back on top following Ferrari team order drama

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix and yet the major talking point was Ferrari’s team orders controversy and a badly timed retirement from Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel refused to let his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc back into the lead after drafting past him and Hamilton at the start, but eventually retired from the race following an engine failure.

Leclerc had got himself back ahead of Vettel and into the lead of the race by this point by stopping early, but Vettel parked his car on track and caused a virtual safety car.

That allowed Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to make their pitstops during the safety car period, which they converted into an unexpected one-two finish as Leclerc finished a frustrated third.

Vettel got a superb run from third position at the start, passing Hamilton almost immediately and then drafting Leclerc on the run to Turn 2.

The race was immediately neutralised under a safety car because of a three-car clash involving Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo and Antonio Giovinazzi.

Giovinazzi found himself between both cars under braking for Turn 4, made contact with Ricciardo on the inside and pitched the Renault into Grosjean, whose Haas crashing into the barriers on the outside.

As the Haas was recovered, it emerged that Ferrari had ordered Leclerc not to fight Vettel if Vettel used the tow to get ahead at the start, and agreed to swap the drivers back when racing resumed.

However, just one week on after Leclerc was angered by Ferrari’s strategy handing Vettel the win in the Singapore Grand Prix, Vettel ignored the instruction to let Leclerc past, and then proceeded to pull away from his disgruntled teammate.

Leclerc was the first of the leaders to pit, and used his four laps on fresh mediums to set a quick pace that meant he moved ahead of Vettel when the race leader stopped on lap 22 of 53.

Shortly after rejoining the track, Vettel suffered an apparent MGU-K failure, and crawled to a halt.

That caused a virtual safety car period and that was a nightmare situation for Ferrari, as Hamilton and Bottas had stayed out and Leclerc was still well outside the Mercedes drivers’ pitstop window in the event of a caution.

Hamilton and Bottas duly pitted as Leclerc circulated at considerably reduced speed, changing to soft tyres and rejoining first and third.

George Russell then suffered a bizarre crash under the VSC, thanks to an unspecified failure, which turned it into a full safety car period.

Ferrari opted to sacrifice Leclerc’s track position to switch him from mediums to softs, dropping him to third behind Bottas but eliminating Mercedes’ tyre advantage in terms of wear rate and compound.

However, despite Leclerc’s best efforts, he was unable to mount a serious attack on Bottas at any point after the restart.

That left Hamilton in the clear to take his 82nd victory in Formula 1 in unexpected circumstances and extend his championship leader over Bottas to 72 points with five races remaining.

Max Verstappen finished fourth after a quiet race. The Red Bull Racing driver had started ninth after a five-place grid penalty and lost touch with the leaders as he worked his way through to fifth early on.

He used the VSC to switch to mediums and ran to the finish a few seconds adrift of Leclerc.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Alex Albon finished fifth despite starting from the pitlane and rising from the tail of the top ten during the final stint.

He demoted Carlos Sainz to sixth during that ascension, denying Sainz a top-five finish for McLaren – although the Spaniard still earned best-of-the-rest honours after heading the midfield battle.

Racing Point driver Sergio Perez overcame Kevin Magnussen to finish seventh, as Magnussen crossed the line eighth but was demoted to ninth at the flag.

He received a five-second penalty for leaving the track at Turn 2 during his unsuccessful defence of seventh from Perez.

The second McLaren of Lando Norris was the sole beneficiary, moving up to eighth, as Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg dropped too far back to also move ahead of Magnussen and thus finished P10.

Robert Kubica was the only other retirement. His Williams team ended his race shortly after Russell’s crash “to conserve parts”.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. Back to winning ways after so many defeats by Ferrari in the last couple of races. This victory was important in terms of the championship.

As for Ferrari, this was a nightmare situation following Vettel’s first DNF of the season while Leclerc was unlucky not to convert his pole to win. Third position was the end result.

Russian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33:38.992
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 3.829
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 5.212
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 14.210
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 38.348
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 45.889
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 48.728
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 57.749
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 58.779
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 59.841
11 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:00.821
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:02.496
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:08.910
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:10.076
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:13.346
– Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes DNF
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Sebastian Vettel Ferrari DNF
– Daniel Ricciardo Renault DNF
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari DNF

Fourth consecutive pole position for Leclerc

Charles Leclerc achieved his and Ferrari’s fourth consecutive Formula 1 pole position in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrome.

Leclerc set two laps quick enough for P1 during Q2 and had an advantage of 0.402 seconds over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who split the Ferraris with his final lap.

Once again, the red cars showed impressive pace on the straights, with Leclerc outpacing Hamilton by almost half a second in the first sector of the lap.

Sebastian Vettel had second position after the first runs in Q3, but only found 0.082 seconds on a messy second lap and had to settle for third, just 0.023 seconds slower than Hamilton.

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen looked a potential pole position threat early in qualifying but ended up fourth fastest and just over three tenths ahead of fifth quickest Valtteri Bottas.

But Verstappen has a five-place grid penalty thanks to taking a new Honda power unit at the start of the Russian Grand Prix weekend, meaning he’s currently set to start ninth.

McLaren driver Carlos Sainz won the midfield battle in sixth position, just 0.067 seconds quicker than the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.

Lando Norris was eighth for McLaren ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who struggled through the first part of qualifying but delivered a superb lap at the end of Q2 to make it into the top ten shootout.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was P10 and last of those in Q3, 2.033 seconds off the pace.

Of the top ten, both Silver Arrows drivers will start on medium Pirellis having used that tyre to set their Q2 time – with the rest locked in to starting on softs.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was P11, although he will not start there as he has a five-place grid penalty because of an engine change at the start of the race weekend.

This means Racing Point’s Sergio Perez moves up to that position after failing to improve on his second set of tyres in Q2.

Antonio Giovinazzi was P13 in an Alfa Romeo that hasn’t looked a top ten threat, putting him ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen did not improve on his second run in Q2 after running wide at the Turn 15 left-hander and ended up P14.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll made a similar mistake at the same corner and also did not improve, leaving him almost half-a-tenth behind Magnussen in P15.

Kimi Raikkonen was quickest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 after failing to improve on his second run.

He ran wide at Turn 10 on his final lap, then the rear stepped out on him in the middle of the last corner and allowed Alfa Romeo team-mate Giovinazzi to bump him by less than a tenth.

Williams driver George Russell was P17, six-tenths off the pace needed for Q2, and had an advantage of 1.2 seconds over Williams teammate Robert Kubica.

Kubica, who has a back-of-the-grid penalty thanks to taking a new Mercedes engine package, slid off the track at Turn 15 on his second push lap on his first set of tyres but improved on his second run.

Alex Albon, who carried a five-place grid penalty into qualifying for an engine change, was P19 and eliminated in Q1 after spinning into the wall on his first run at Turn 13 right-hander.

The Red Bull driver carried too much speed into the corner after briefly locking the rears at the start of the braking phase.

The rear came round before the apex, backing the car into the Tecpro barrier and bringing out the red flag with just over six-and-a-half minutes remaining in Q1.

Daniil Kvyat did not participate in qualifying after stopping on track with an engine problem during FP3.

The team opted to change the V6 engine, turbocharger, MGU-K and MGU-H, but could not complete the job in time to run in Q1.

So congratulations to Charles Leclerc with this amazing run of four pole positions. The last time a Ferrari achieved this record of consecutive poles was Michael Schumacher back in 2001. What an incredible result in his first season representing the Scuderia.

Russian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:31.628
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.030
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:32.053
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.632
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:33.222
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:33.289
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:33.301
8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:33.517
9 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:32.310*
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:33.661
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:33.950
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:33.958
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:34.037
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:34.082
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:34.233
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:34.840
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:35.356
18 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:39.197
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1:36.474
20 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda –

*Five-place grid penalty for a power unit change

Vettel victorious at the Singapore Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel finally scores his first Formula 1 victory in over a year as Charles Leclerc was not happy with his team’s strategy decision in the Singapore Grand Prix.

Leclerc led the opening stage of the race from pole position but fell behind Vettel after Ferrari pit the second-placed car first, which Vettel converted into a first win of the season since the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix.

After being told to save his power unit 15 laps from the finish, Leclerc’s response to Ferrari included: “I just don’t think it is fair, but I won’t do anything stupid.”

Max Verstappen completed the podium for Red Bull, after early second-place runner Lewis Hamilton slipped down to fourth position after the longest opening stint of any of the frontrunners.

Hamilton led the pursuit of Leclerc in the opening stages, but Leclerc was managing his pace and backed up the front group.

That prevented any of the drivers from the big three teams from attempting an undercut until lap 19, as the midfield package remained too close to the frontrunners.

However, once those in the midfield started to pit, a gap emerged – and Verstappen looked set to be the first to utilise that as he complained of fading rear tyres.

At the same time, Ferrari brought in third-placed Vettel, which also gave him the chance to use fresh set of Pirelli to get ahead of Hamilton.

Leclerc stopped one later, but Vettel’s pace advantage was enough to jump his teammate.

Mercedes opted to extend Hamilton’s stint out front by six laps compared to Leclerc and his pace faded considerably on fading softs.

Hamilton’s pace was not great that Mercedes even ordered Valtteri Bottas, who had already stopped from fifth position, to back off the lap before Hamilton’s pitstop.

This was to prevent Hamilton losing track position to both Bottas and the Red Bull of Alex Albon, thus protecting fourth and fifth for Mercedes.

Once behind, Leclerc started to pressure Vettel but lost ground to his teammate as they worked their way through the midfield cars running long.

Vettel’s progress to the front included an aggressive move on Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso, and when he got there he had to manage three safety-car periods.

The first of those came when Romain Grosjean and George Russell collided and the Williams was turned into the wall exiting Turn 8 on lap 36.

Vettel faced no threat at the restart on lap 41 but the safety car came out again three laps later, after the Racing Point of Sergio Perez stopped on the straight between Turns 10 and 11 with a problem.

That took three laps to clear, during which Leclerc requested “everything” for the restart but was told by Ferrari to manage the engine and “bring the car home”.

“Yeah, I won’t do anything stupid – it’s not my goal,” Leclerc responded. “I want us to finish one-two, I just think it’s not fair. This won’t change, I won’t be stupid.”

One final safety car period stood between Vettel and victory, thanks to Daniil Kvyat lunging Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner on lap 50, breaking the Alfa Romeo’s front left wheel and putting Raikkonen out on the spot.

A one-lap safety car appearance followed, after which the race continued without interruption as Vettel won by 1.6 seconds.

Verstappen fended off Hamilton to complete the top three at a race Red Bull and Honda had hoped to challenge for victory, but a return to the podium was reward for the team’s decision to pitstop at the same time with Vettel while running fourth early on.

Bottas finished fifth, missing out on fastest lap late on after dropping away from Hamilton to get clear air, with Albon in sixth position.

Lando Norris was an excellent seventh for McLaren. He assumed the lead of the midfield fight after teammate Carlos Sainz and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg collided on the opening lap.

Hulkenberg dived inside Sainz at the fast Turn 4 right-hander, clobbering the right-rear of the McLaren and forcing Sainz to limp back to the pits.

Norris moved ahead of Hulkenberg when the German was forced into the pits at the end of the lap with damage, and serenely controlled the best-of-the-rest contest thereafter.

Pierre Gasly battled to eighth with a strong drive aided by a long first stint and a gutsy outside pass on Kevin Magnussen after a safety car restart.

Hulkenberg recovered to ninth ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi, who led briefly as Alfa Romeo committed him to a long first stint but dropped right back at one stage after being hit by Daniel Ricciardo.

So congratulations to Sebastian Vettel with this Singapore Grand Prix victory. This result was the perfect response to the media following questions about his errors and lack of confidence. Been a whole year since Vettel last won a race. Kudos to Ferrari in winning three Grands Prix in a row.

Singapore Grand Prix, race results:
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:58:33.667
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +2.641s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda +3.821s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +4.608s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +6.119s
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda +11.663s
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault +14.769s
8 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda +15.547s
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault +16.718s
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +17.855s
11 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari +35.436s
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault +35.974s
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes +36.419s
14 Daniel Ricciardo Renault +37.660s
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda +38.178s
16 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes +47.024s
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +1:26.522s
– Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari DNF
– Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes DNF
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF

Leclerc scores hat-trick of pole

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc achieved his third consecutive Formula 1 pole position after edging out Lewis Hamilton by 0.191 seconds.

With the Scuderia’s aerodynamic upgrades giving it a significant boost in performance around a street circuit that even the team expected would not suit it, Sebastian Vettel set the pace on the first runs in Q3.

But Vettel’s second attempt was messy, resulting in him aborting to the pits, leaving the way for Leclerc to claim pole.

After the lap, Leclerc claimed over the radio that he lost control three times on the lap in what was a superb attacking performance.

Vettel’s final-run struggles allowed Hamilton to secure second position on his final lap, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ending up fourth and almost four tenths behind Vettel.

Valtteri Bottas was fifth for Mercedes ahead of Red Bull’s Alex Albon, with neither driver able to threaten their teammates.

McLaren led the way in the midfield battle, with Carlos Sainz taking seventh place ahead of the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo.

Nico Hulkenberg was ninth for Renault, 0.065 seconds quicker than the McLaren of Lando Norris.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez jumped up to P11 at the end of Q2, but missed out on beating Hulkenberg to a Q3 spot by four hundredths of a second.

Perez has a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change thanks to damage sustained in a practice crash, meaning he is currently set to start P16.

Behind him, Antonio Giovinazzi and Pierre Gasly both failed to improve on their second runs and ended up P12 and P13 respectively but both well within a tenth of Perez’s time.

Gasly reported over the radio that he was struggling with the rear after completing his final lap, during which he grazed the wall.

Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen was P14 after setting his best time on his second Q2 run, having slapped the wall with both left-hand-side wheels on his first attempt.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was slowest of those in Q2, lapping eight tenths behind Raikkonen.

Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat was the quickest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 having failed to improve on his time set during the first runs.

He was up after the first sector, but lost time thereafter meaning he was unable to recover from Perez bumping him into the drop-zone – although he was only 0.015 seconds slower than Magnussen, who did make it through Q1.

Lance Stroll was P17 after only finding 0.209 seconds on his second run in the Racing Point after several light brushes of the wall, which was enough to put him three-tenths clear of Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

George Russell had to abort his final attempt after running wide at the exit of Turn 7, although his first-run time was good enough to put him P19 ahead of Williams team-mate Robert Kubica by three tenths.

So congratulations to Charles Leclerc in achieving a hat-trick of pole positions. The Ferrari driver is on a winning form with this qualifying result and it will be fascinating if he can score another victory at Marina Bay.

Kudos to Ferrari in upstaging the Mercedes and Red Bull by going quickest in qualifying. The Scuderia admitted that this street circuit won’t suit the SF90 as it requires downforce but the red car of Leclerc surprised everyone with this pole position. Bring on the race!

Singapore Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:36.217
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.408
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:36.437
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:36.813
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:37.146
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:37.411
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:37.818
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:38.095
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:38.264
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:38.329
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:38.620
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:38.697
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:38.699
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:38.858
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:39.650
16 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:39.957
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:39.979
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:40.277
19 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:40.867
20 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1:41.186

Leclerc takes popular Monza victory

Charles Leclerc soaked up the big pressure from the Mercedes pair to win at Monza, sending the passionate Tifosi into party mode at the Italian Grand Prix.

This is Leclerc’s second victory in Formula 1 and follows on from his maiden at Spa.

Leclerc fought single-handedly for victory at Ferrari’s home race after teammate Sebastian Vettel had a spin early on while running fourth.

Hamilton gave chase for more than 20 laps in the middle of the Italian Grand Prix before Bottas took over Mercedes’ attack at the end, but Leclerc kept both at bay to win again just seven days after claiming his maiden victory.

Leclerc kept Hamilton at length through the first stint but came under attack after stopping one lap later than his pursuer – and taking hard tyres to the Mercedes driver’s mediums.

Hamilton’s earlier stop brought him out within striking distance of Leclerc straight away and two engaged in an ultra-intense cat-and-mouse chase for more than 20 laps.

During that time, Hamilton got close enough to launch two serious attacks.

First, on lap 23, Hamilton used a minor delay as Leclerc passed Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault at Parabolica to force the Ferrari driver to defend into the first chicane.

Leclerc defended again into the chicane chicane but moved back across to the right, made light contact with Hamilton and forced his rival onto the run-off.

Leclerc was given a black-and-white flag warning for that move, and was perhaps fortunate to get away with what Hamilton described as “dangerous” driving on lap 36.

A small lock-up from Leclerc sent him over the run-off at the first chicane and gave Hamilton a run out of the corner.

As Hamilton looked to the outside through Curva Grande, Leclerc moved to the left to block his path – leaving Hamilton annoyed.

Over the next few laps Hamilton remained in close range but failed to launch another attack before locking his front left into the first chicane at the start of lap 42.

Hamilton took to the escape road, allowing Bottas through into second after he crept up to the lead two with his long first stint giving him an eight-lap offset on fresh tyres.

Bottas picked up the chase, three seconds adrift of Leclerc, and almost got within DRS range with six laps to go before losing a bit of time in the final sector.

His best chance came three laps from the end when he got to just half a second behind Leclerc, but Bottas ran deep into the first corner and dropped back.

Bottas got within DRS range again on the final lap, but made a small mistake at the second chicane and Leclerc won by 0.8 seconds.

Hamilton finished a distant third after pitting for fresh tyres to set the fastest lap and score a bonus point, meaning his championship advantage over Bottas stands at 63 points.

While Leclerc held on to win his first Italian Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver, Vettel had a miserable race and finished outside of the points in P13.

He ran fourth early on but spun after striking the kerb on the entrance to the Ascari chicane on lap six.

Vettel then rejoined the track while cars were flash past and clipped the Racing Point of Lance Stroll, who was seventh, into a spin.

Stroll got going again but rejoined as Pierre Gasly was exiting Ascari, which forced the Toro Rosso driver through the gravel.

Vettel received a 10-second stop-go penalty for his unsafe return to the track, the harshest possible penalty short of disqualification, while Stroll’s was deemed slightly less severe and he was hit with a drive-through.

In the absence of Vettel – and also Max Verstappen, who started at the back following an engine change and had his race compromised by a first lap clash – Daniel Ricciardo scored Renault’s best result of the season in fourth.

Ricciardo had fallen behind teammate Hulkenberg in the early laps but quickly repassed his teammate and assumed fourth when Vettel spun.

He held a commanding advantage over Hulkenberg until the end of the race, while Hulkenberg held onto fifth ahead of Red Bull’s Alex Albon to give Renault a massive haul of points.

Behind Albon, Sergio Perez benefitted from a well-timed virtual safety car around his pitstop window to finish seventh, despite starting P18.

Verstappen made it back to eighth after stopping on lap one for a new front wing, having broken his when the field bunched up at the first corner.

Antonio Giovinazzi scored points in his home race in ninth, while Lando Norris completed the top ten having started P16.

Three drivers retired from the Italian Grand Prix, two shortly after making their pitstops.

Carlos Sainz lost a likely strong points finish when his McLaren’s front right wheel was not attached properly at his pitstop.

Daniil Kvyat, also running well inside the top ten, pulled his smokey Toro Rosso to a halt exiting the first chicane after his own stop.

Kevin Magnussen was the final retiree. He had already dropped out of the points when he locked up at Turn 1 and took to the run-off.

So congratulations to Charles Leclerc in achieving this fantastic result at Monza. To win for Ferrari in front of the passionate Tifosi crowd is just epic. The last Scuderia driver to be victorious was Fernando Alonso back in 2010, so for Leclerc to win in his first appearance at Ferrari is truly special.

Italian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:15:26.665
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.835
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 35.199
4 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 45.515
5 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 58.165
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda Red Bull 59.315
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:13.802
8 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:14.492
9 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1 lap
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1 lap
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1 lap
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 lap
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
17 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 2 laps
– Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari
– Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda
– Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault

Leclerc take Monza pole in farce end to qualifying

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc achieved his fourth career pole position at Monza, scene of the Italian Grand Prix though the ending scenes was a complete farce.

Leclerc put his Ferrari on pole with a lap of one minute, 20.126 seconds on his first run in Q3, giving him an advantage of 0.039 seconds over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

But with the tow crucial at Monza, ahead of the second runs the ten Q3 drivers engaged in a ‘slow race’ for the ideal position to start their flying laps, with most failing to make to the end of the lap before the chequered flag.

This meant no driver was able to improve their lap time on the second run, with Hamilton complaining that the Ferrari drivers had held everyone up and “just timed everyone out”.

The stewards are investigating “the last lap of qualifying”, with drivers having previously been warned about slow out-laps.

To witness this makes the sport a laughing joke. With just two minutes to the end of Q3, the teams/drivers left until the final moment and with all that slipstream tactics coming into play, it was not a surprise to see all the drivers unable to complete a lap.

Valtteri Bottas, who just completed his first lap before the red flags flew in Q3 for Kimi Raikkonen spinning into the wall at Parabolica, was third fastest, just 0.0004 seconds slower than his teammate.

Sebastian Vettel was fourth quickest for Ferrari, a tenth off Bottas and ahead of the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo.

Nico Hulkenberg was sixth fastest ahead of Carlos Sainz, who was the slowest of the seven drivers to set a time in Q3.

Alex Albon, Lance Stroll and Raikkonen were classified eighth, ninth and tenth respectively with none of them having posted a time.

While Raikkonen’s was thanks to his first-run crash, the other two were unable to complete a lap thanks to the late-session chaos.

Antonio Giovinazzi showed how big a difference a tiny gap can make and ended up as the fastest of the five drivers eliminated in Q2 despite lapping just two thousandths slower than teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

The Alfa Romeo driver jumped Haas driver Kevin Magnussen with his final lap, with K-Mag ending up a tenth slower in P12 after failing to improve on his first Q2 run time.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was P13, with the rear stepping out at the exit of the second chicane on his final attempt and leading to him taking a bite of the gravel.

That lap was his fastest and was enough to put him ahead of two drivers who didn’t mount serious Q2 attempts thanks to having back-of-the-grid penalties for power unit changes – McLaren’s Lando Norris and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.

Romain Grosjean was quickest of those eliminated in the first segment of qualifying in P16 despite lapping just 0.658 seconds off Q1 pacesetter Leclerc.

The Haas driver was in trouble after the first runs in Q1, which were separated by a four-minute red flag caused by Sergio Perez’s Racing Point stopping on track, but did improve on the second attempt.

This temporarily put him into the top 15, but improvements by Sainz and Stroll meant he missed out on advancing after lapping 0.061 seconds slower than Kvyat.

Perez, who ground to a halt at Curva Grande after suffering a loss of power at the end of his first run, ended up P17.

The red flag didn’t cause much disruption as it fell between the first and second runs of the drivers, although Vettel was on a lap that was set to improve on mediums that he had to abandon and subsequent did go out on softs as a precautionary measure and did not set a time.

George Russell won the intra-Williams battle for slowest driver in qualifying, 0.556 seconds faster than Robert Kubica.

That put them P18 and P19, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen not setting a time after reporting a lack of power on his run.

Verstappen was always set to start at the rear thanks to being one of three drivers with a back-of-the-grid penalty, along with Gasly and Norris.

So a bizarre end to qualifying with the drivers playing games on how to position themselves for slipstream. The final result was missing out as the Q3 session ended.

At least Charles Leclerc continues to impress with yet another pole position and looks the favourite in scoring a win at the Scuderia’s home track.

Italian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:19.307
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.346
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:19.354
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:19.457
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:19.839
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:20.049
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren-Renault 1:20.989
8 Alexander Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:20.021
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:20.515
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:20.498
11 Antonio Giovinazzo Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:20.517
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:20.615
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:20.630
14 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:21.068
15 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:21.125
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:20.784
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:21.291
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:21.800
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1:21.356
20 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda –

Leclerc scores maiden victory at Spa

Charles Leclerc held off a late challenge from Lewis Hamilton to score his maiden Formula 1 victory and secure Scuderia Ferrari’s first win of 2019 in the Belgian Grand Prix.

Leclerc missed out on victory in Bahrain because of an engine problem and Austria after a late fight with Max Verstappen, but suffered no such repeat as he finally did it on his third attempt.

The Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas completed the podium after Leclerc’s Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel slipped back from second position following tyre struggles and an extra pitstop.

Hamilton rapidly closed on Leclerc in the final laps but crossed the line 0.9 seconds adrift.

The Belgian Grand Prix was almost immediately placed under the safety car after Verstappen’s race ended in the barrier at Eau Rouge on the first lap.

Verstappen had a slow start and was passed by Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez on the run to La Source, but dived inside both under braking.

The Red Bull driver passed Perez cleanly but hit Raikkonen as The Iceman swept across to the apex of the corner, pitching the Alfa Romeo into the air – and the two made contact again on the exit of the corner.

The front left of Verstappen’s Red Bull was damaged in the accident and broke completely as he entered Eau Rouge, which caused him to slide helplessly into the barriers on the outside.

Raikkonen continued after a trip to the pits, as did Daniel Ricciardo, whose Renault picked up some floor damage in a separate incident behind.

The safety car was due to return to the pitlane on lap three but was stayed out on track before making it back to the pits, because Carlos Sainz stopped at the exit of the Bus Stop chicance after a loss of power in his Renault-engined McLaren.

When the race did resume on lap five, Leclerc was gifted an immediate advantage as Vettel locked up at La Source.

Leclerc remained in control through his first stint, surviving a minor scare when he locked up at Les Combes and took to the run-off.

That incident was noted by race officials, after a pre-event instruction to drivers to obey specific instructions if they went wide there, but Leclerc ended up escaping investigation.

Vettel kept Hamilton at bay despite coming under pressure through the first half of the race, and the Ferrari driver was first to stop on lap 15.

Leclerc, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas stayed out for many more laps, and by the time the race leader pit on lap 21 he had lost too much time to Vettel to maintain the position.

Vettel’s efforts on new tyres handed him a five-second margin when Leclerc emerged from the pits, but Leclerc reduced that time difference with fresh rubber.

Leclerc was within DRS range with 18 laps still to go and Ferrari instructed Vettel to let his teammate by, which he did after a short delay in order to give Leclerc a tow on the Kemmel Straight and minimise the time loss.

Ferrari’s strategy call gives Leclerc the win but it left Vettel vulnerable to the Mercedes drivers, and he soon slipped to fourth as his medium tyres fell away.

Leclerc seemed safe until Hamilton closed rapidly in the closing laps, but the championship leader was unable to mount an attack – and in any case, second place extended his lead over Bottas in the championship to 65 points.

After being passed by Hamilton, Vettel was told to stay out if he could keep Bottas behind but reported “negative” almost immediately and dived in for fresh tyres, in order to set the fastest lap and gain a bonus point.

New Red Bull recruit Alex Albon recorded a surprise fifth place on his debut with the team after a fine charge from the back of the grid.

He was promoted to the best result of his F1 career after last-lap drama, as Lando Norris retired to hand Albon sixth and then nabbed fifth from Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

Norris was on course to be rewarded with his own career-best finish, after leaping up the order on the dramatic first lap.

The McLaren rookie passed his midfield rivals with ease but reported a sudden loss of power as he was starting his final lap, and pulled over on the start-finish straight.

That promoted Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat to seventh late on, before further drama occurred when Antonio Giovinazzi crashed out of what would have been eighth position.

Nico Hulkenberg thus finished eighth after passing teammate Ricciardo during a late charge, while Pierre Gasly battled to ninth in his first start since being demoted from Red Bull to Toro Rosso.

Lance Stroll completed the top ten as Ricciardo’s badly-worn tyres meant he slipped to P14 behind the two Haas drivers, who ran sixth and seventh early on but faded badly as the race progressed.

So congratulations to Ferrari and Charles Leclerc in winning their first race of the season. The straight-line speed helped on this Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Such a nice gesture from Charles to dedicate this victory to Anthoine Hubert, who lost his life in the Formula 2 race during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. Respect to the motorsport community in putting on a good show with a popular winner.

Belgian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:23:45.710
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.981
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 12.585
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 26.422
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:21.325
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:24.448
7 Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:29.657
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:46.639
9 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:49.168
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:49.838
11 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault –
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
13 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
14 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1 lap
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
17 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari
19 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault –
20 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda –

Leclerc scores Spa pole and edges out Vettel by seven tenths

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc achieved his third career pole position with a strong performance advantage over teammate Sebastian Vettel by 0.748 seconds at Spa-Francorchamps.

Leclerc set the pace on the first Q3 runs with a lap time of one minute, 42.644 seconds, which would have been enough to be sure of P1.

But Charles improved to a one minute, 42.519 seconds on his second run to make certain of starting from the front.

Vettel had to work hard to get a place on the front row, setting the third fastest time on the first run behind Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton improved on his second run, but Vettel’s final attempt was just enough to jump ahead – by only 0.015 seconds.

Valtteri Bottas put his Mercedes fourth on the grid, 0.896 seconds off pole position and almost three-tenths ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.

Verstappen had a near-miss in Q1, with his first run ruined by a loss of engine power before completing a lap quick enough to reach Q2 just 13 seconds before a late red flag.

The leading drivers all struggled with their warm-up laps in Q3 as they struggled for track position, with both Silver Arrows drivers locking up on their first runs while on out-laps.

Vettel also had trouble, complaining “what a mess” over the radio on his slowdown lap.

Renault led the midfield with Daniel Ricciardo almost three-tenths clear of Nico Hulkenberg in sixth and seventh places respectively.

Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen almost split the Renaults but ended up eighth, 0.015 seconds slower than Hulkenberg.

That put him ahead of the Racing Point of Sergio Perez, who has reverted to a previously-used old-specification Mercedes power unit after a failure in practice.

Haas’s Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top ten but never looked to have the pace to do better than P10.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean was the quickest of those eliminated in Q2 after being outpaced by Magnussen by just 0.059 seconds.

McLaren driver Lando Norris was P12 ahead of the Racing Point of Lance Stroll, who only made one attempt in Q2 as he carries a back-of-the-grid penalty for taking the new Mercedes engine at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

Newly-promoted Red Bull driver Alex Albon also has to serve a back-of-the-grid penalty for taking the latest Honda engine package, meaning he has focused on race preparation work.

Although Albon did set a time in Q2, it was on previously-used rubber and left him down in P14.

Antonio Giovinazzi was P15 but unable to set a time in Q2 after suffering a failure of his new, latest-specification Ferrari engine at the end of the first part of qualifying.

Giovinazzi’s failure, which resulted in a late red flag in Q1, ensured that first-run times dictated who was eliminated in the opening stage of qualifying.

Toro Rosso returnee Pierre Gasly was the quickest of those knocked out having lapped almost three-tenths off slowest Q2 qualifier Norris in Q1.

Surprisingly, McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr was also eliminated after having to complete his first flier on rubber that he’d used before the red flag.

Sainz must serve a five-place grid penalty after introduction the latest-specification Renault engine at the start of practice but returned to the previous version for Saturday’s running – although other penalties means he is currently set to start no lower than P17.

Daniil Kvyat, who carries a back-of-the-grid penalty thanks to taking the newly-upgraded Honda power unit package, was P18 and a second ahead of the Williams of George Russell.

Robert Kubica was P20 but was unable to set a time after he suffered a failure of his new and latest-specification Mercedes engine towards the end of the lap while on his first qualifying lap.

Kubica brought the Williams, which was billowing smoke, to a halt as a fire broke out at the rear – leading to the first red flag of the session.

So congratulations to Charles Leclerc in taking pole position for Ferrari. The Scuderia are looking very strong at Spa-Francorchamps thanks to the impressive straight-line speed. Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix is a must win after so many near misses this season compared to rival Mercedes.

Qualifying positions, Belgian Grand Prix:

1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:42.519
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:43.267
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:43.282
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:43.415
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:43.690
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:44.257
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:44.542
8 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:44.557
9 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:44.706
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:45.086
11 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:44.797
12 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:44.847
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:45.047
14 Alexander Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:45.528 1:45.799
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:45.637
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:46.435
17 Carlos Sainz McLaren-Renault 1:46.507
18 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:46.518
19 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:47.548
20 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes –