SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS (Belgium) • Ferrari's Charles Leclerc believes that his team are looking strong ahead of today's Belgian Grand Prix, after he took pole position in qualifying yesterday ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.
On a hot, sunny afternoon, championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who earlier hit a wall in practice, qualified third. He will share the second row with Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
"It felt good. The first sector was not what I wanted, especially in the first corner, we had to go very slow because there was a lot of traffic," said Leclerc, who clinched his third pole of the season.
"I struggled quite a bit but after that the second corner we were strong and it felt amazing.
"We were struggling a little bit more for the race pace yesterday so we need to work on that but looking at the pace today, I'm pretty sure we'll be strong."
The Monegasque, who was quickest in two of the three practice sessions and is seeking his maiden victory in Formula One, clocked a fastest lap in 1min 42.519sec. He was 0.748sec clear of Vettel.
It was Ferrari's first lockout since the Bahrain GP in March and the 63rd in the team's F1 history, one fewer than Mercedes.
Vettel, who also complained of traffic, said: "At the end of the day it's good that we secured the first row, but to fight for pole I was in the queue.
BELGIAN GP GRID
1 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari
2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari
3 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes
4 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes
5 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull
6 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo
7 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point
8 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas
9 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas
10 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren
14 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Toro Rosso
19 Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull
NOTE: after grid penalties
"I'm looking forward to the race."
Hamilton has won eight of this year's 12 races to date and leads the standings on 250 points, ahead of Bottas (188), Red Bull's Max Verstappen (181), Vettel (156) and Leclerc (132).
Referring to his crash in final practice, the five-time world champion said: "P3 was a terrible session for me and it's painful because I know how much it takes to build the part and put the car together.
"My guys back in the garage always give 100 per cent and I'm so grateful to them for getting me back out here.
"Ferrari have done a great job and I hope we can bring the fight to them."
Thai driver Alexander Albon, on his debut drive for Red Bull having been promoted to the team from Toro Rosso, will start from the back end of the grid for taking new power unit components.
Red Bull consequently opted to save his tyres and he did not push in Q2, finishing in 14th.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN
F1 BELGIAN GP
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