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Leclerc crushes rivals for Belgian GP pole position

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc continued his domination of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend as he stormed to an emphatic pole position.

Ferrari had led the way through all three practice sessions and come qualifying Leclerc was never headed, as he topped Q1, Q2 and Q3 in hot and sunny conditions at Spa-Francorchamps.

Leclerc clocked two laps quick enough for pole position in the final shootout and his best effort of 1:42.519 left him 0.748s clear of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel rued traffic on his warm-up lap, and a couple of mistakes, but it did not account for the deficit to his younger team-mate.

This qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix is a third career pole position for Leclerc, following on from Q3-topping efforts earlier in the year in Bahrain and Austria.

Lewis Hamilton suffered a hefty crash in final practice earlier on Saturday afternoon but Mercedes repaired his W10 in time for qualifying.

Hamilton finished third, just 0.015s behind Vettel, but was unable to get near to Leclerc’s time, as Ferrari demonstrated the straight-line speed advantage of its SF90 at the power-hungry venue.

Valtteri Bottas was fourth, in front of Max Verstappen and the Renault pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg.

The Renault drivers will nonetheless drop to 11th and 12th on the grid on account of taking on engine penalties for a new component that they have now parked for the rest of the weekend.

It means Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen will join Verstappen on the third row of the grid, ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and the Haas pairing of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

Lando Norris was 12th but will move up to the foot of the top 10 on account of the Renault drivers’ penalties.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi will start from 13th after his efforts were scuppered by an engine failure late in Q1.

That failure brought out the red flags and hindered a handful of drivers, including Toro Rosso pair Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat, along with Carlos Sainz Jr., who dropped out in Q1.

Williams’ struggles continued as George Russell was a second behind nearest rival Kvyat while Robert Kubica suffered a spectacularly smoky engine failure on his installation lap. 

The Williams duo will nonetheless benefit from penalties elsewhere.

Sainz Jr. will drop to 17th spot on account of a five-place demotion, while Lance Stroll, Alexander Albon and Kvyat all have back-of-the-grid penalties due to engine changes.

Stroll is set to start from 18th, ahead of Albon – who did not try for one-lap pace as he prepares for his Red Bull debut – and Kvyat.

Stay tuned for race updates from the Belgian Grand Prix tomorrow!

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