Belgian F1 Grand Prix 2019 Qualifying: Charles Leclerc on Pole, Ferrari Dominate

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2019

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco steers his car during the second practice session ahead of the Belgian Formula One at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. The Belgian Formula One race will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari one-two in qualifying at the Formula One Belgium Grand Prix on Saturday.

Leclerc's mark of one minute, 42.519 seconds was enough to get the better of team-mate Sebastian Vettel by more than seven-tenths of a second to help Ferrari to cement their status as the constructor to beat at Spa.

Lewis Hamilton faced a race against time to get his car ready for qualifying after he crashed out late in final practice. The Mercedes team did enough to get him out on track, and the world champion will start in third on Sunday.

Formula 1 @F1

LEC: "It felt good - the first sector wasn't quite what we wanted, but after that we were very strong. We need to work on our race pace a bit, but I think we should be fast tomorrow" #F1 #BelgianGP 🇧🇪 https://t.co/HZ75JMl63y


Saturday Recap

Here are the standings after an excellent qualifying session for Ferrari:

Formula 1 @F1

CLASSIFICATION: END OF QUALIFYING Confirmation of a third career pole position for Charles Leclerc! #F1 #BelgianGP 🇧🇪 https://t.co/D7AZ0ozypv

After dominating the practice sessions on Friday, Ferrari were once again on top in the third practice run on Saturday, with Leclerc getting the better of team-mate Vettel.

There was a bigger story early on, though, as Hamilton made an uncharacteristic mistake that had the potential to have major consequences. The world champion lost control of his Mercedes through the fast corner at Fagnes and ended up planting it in the barrier.

The F1 Twitter account relayed the footage of the incident:

Formula 1 @F1

The moment final practice ended in the wall for Lewis Hamilton at Spa 💥 #F1 #BelgianGP 🇧🇪 https://t.co/M6Ar5O0I36

Not only did the smash limit Hamilton's preparation time for qualifying, but it also gave his engineers a lot of work to do ahead of the next session. Ultimately, the Englishman's car was ready to go out in Q1.

The Mercedes team Twitter account hailed the work done in the garage to get the car back in working condition:

Mercedes-AMG F1 @MercedesAMGF1

DONE! 🤜🤛 Let’s hear it for the guys, mega turnaround to get Lewis’ W10 fit and fighting for Quali! 👏 #BelgianGP #F1 https://t.co/fgEhCx4jip

Q1 was blemished by a couple of mechanical issues, with Robert Kubica and Antonio Giovinazzi both suffering with engine failures.

The latter's brought a premature end to the session, leaving McLaren's Carlos Sainz stuck in the drop zone. Red Bull's Max Verstappen was able to jump out of the bottom five just in time, saving himself from an embarrassing early elimination.

The early indications were that Ferrari were going to lock out the front row, as the Scuderia drivers led the session. In Q2, the pattern continued, with Leclerc again looking imperious for Ferrari.

The Mercedes team did little to help their drivers to close the gap:

Formula 1 @F1

Mercedes garage = 🙈 #F1 #BelgianGP 🇧🇪 https://t.co/bzdxGUkxuo

In the first set of Q3 runs, it was no surprise to see the Monegasque on top—more than six-tenths ahead of the rest of the field—although Vettel made a mistake, allowing Hamilton to initially split the Ferraris.

Each driver was able to fit in another hot lap before time expired, and Vettel dipped in behind Hamilton on the out lap, seeking to take advantage of a slipstream from the Mercedes.

While Leclerc lowered the bar ahead up the road, Vettel was able to capitalise on Hamilton's speed up ahead and did enough to squeeze into second place.