Leclerc Claims Pole Amid Monza Confusion

Charles Leclerc earned the pole for the Italian Grand Prix. (Ferrari Photo)
Charles Leclerc earned the pole for the Italian Grand Prix. (Ferrari Photo)

MONZA, Italy – Charles Leclerc emerged with his fourth Formula One pole after a bizarre qualifying session Saturday at Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

Leclerc’s 1:19.307 was enough for him to earn the pole for the Italian Grand Prix, but it was how the session ended that had fans and competitors alike talking.

The final round of qualifying was halted after a crash by Kimi Raikkonen in his Alfa Romeo, but once the track was clear all of the drivers chose to wait before returning to the track.

Everyone was waiting, hoping to take advantage of the tow around Monza. Most of the cars hit the track extremely late, with only Carlos Sainz managing to get to the start/finish line before the checkered flag waved to end the session.

Sainz was unable to improve upon his time from earlier in Q3, meaning Leclerc had clinched the pole without turning a final lap.

Lewis Hamilton ended up second with his best time of 1:19.346, followed closely by his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in third. Sebastian Vettel qualified fourth for Ferrari, followed by the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, Sainz, Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and Raikkonen completed the top-10.

Of note, Max Verstappen had an engine malfunction in Q1 and failed to advance. He’ll start last in the 20-car field Sunday afternoon.