Motor racing: Leclerc takes pole position ahead of Ferrari teammate Vettel and Mercedes' Hamilton for Belgian GP

Charles Leclerc (pictured) beat his own leading time to finish 0.748 of a second clear of Sebastian Vettel and 0.763 ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Charles Leclerc (pictured) beat his own leading time to finish 0.748 of a second clear of Sebastian Vettel and 0.763 ahead of Lewis Hamilton.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIUM (AP, AFP) - Charles Leclerc took the third pole position of his promising career on Saturday (Aug 31), comfortably ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel in a dominant Belgian Grand Prix so far for Ferrari.

The Monaco driver beat his own leading time to finish 0.748 of a second clear of Vettel and 0.763 ahead of five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. The other Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was 0.896 behind in fourth.

"That felt good," said Leclerc. "We were struggling a little bit more for race pace and we need to work on that, but I am sure we will be strong."

After mangling his car in final practice, Hamilton almost had another incident when he narrowly avoided bumping into his teammate Bottas.

Ferrari secured a 1-2 in all three practice sessions and all three sections of qualifying, boosting hopes of a first win this season and also the first since former driver Kimi Raikkonen's success at the US Grand Prix last October.

Vettel's last win was on this track last year. There have been 20 GPs without one since for the four-time Formula One champion.

He was frustrated by traffic on his final run. "At the end, it's good we secured the front row, but to fight for pole I was in the queue," he said.

 

Referring to his crash in the morning, Hamilton 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.

"Ferrari have done a great job and I hope we can bring the fight to them."

Max Verstappen qualified fifth for Red Bull, ahead of of Renault's Daniel Ricciardo.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh in the second Renault ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo, Sergio Perez of Racing Point and Kevin Magnussen of Haas.

Hamilton has won eight of this year's 12 races to date to lead Bottas by 62 points in the championship, while Leclerc is still hunting his first win.