Leclerc Storms To Third Straight F-1 Pole

Leclerc Storms To Third
Charles Leclerc earned the pole for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday. (Ferrari photo)

SINGAPORE – Charles Leclerc’s impressive Formula One qualifying pace continued on Saturday at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, as the Monégasque driver earned his fifth pole of the season.

Leclerc lapped the 3.146-mile, 23-turn layout in 1:36.217 with his SF90-Ferrari to top qualifying for the third straight race, tying Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas for the most poles this year.

“It was quite a crazy lap,” Leclerc said. “The first one I compromised it — I started the lap too close to Lewis. I compromised the second sector, so then there was quite a bit of pressure to perform on the last lap.

“I gave it (my) all; there were quite a bit of mistakes. I lost the car a few times and I could see myself in the wall at least two or three times in the lap. But it felt amazing,” Leclerc added. “The car was great. Friday was a very difficult day for me, so to come here and do the pole position feels absolutely amazing.”

Joining Leclerc on the front row will be five-time and defending F-1 champion Lewis Hamilton, who turned a lap of 1:36.408 in Q3 to earn the second starting position, just edging out Leclerc’s teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton is a four-time winner in Singapore, tied with Vettel for the most in event history.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen starts fourth on Sunday, with the front two rows covered by less than six tenths of a second on the time sheets.

The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas completed the top five.

Sixth was Alexander Albon in the sister Red Bull entry, ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, the Renault pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg, and the second McLaren of Lando Norris.

However, Ricciardo was later excluded from the qualifying results, after the stewards discovered his Renault exceeded the MGU-K power limit during Q1.

“It was established in the hearing, beyond any doubt in the opinion of the stewards, that the competitor (Ricciardo) exceeded the MGU-K power flow limit permitted under Appendix 3, per Article 5.2.2 of the 2019 Formula One technical regulations,” read the stewards’ report.

“The method by which this limit is regulated is well known and understood by the teams. Neither the fact that the car had exceeded the limit, nor the methodology by which it is policed, was disputed by the team … (so) the stewards therefore order Car (No.) 3 disqualified from the results of qualifying.”

Ricciardo will be permitted to start the race, though he will have to do so either from pit lane or from the rear of the 20-car grid.

The two Haas F1 Team cars struggled mightily on Saturday, both failing to make Q3.

Due to Ricciardo’s exclusion, Kevin Magnussen grids up 13th and Romain Grosjean starts 17th for F-1’s only night race.