Charles Leclerc reeled off his fourth consecutive pole position with another stunning lap on Saturday as he topped the times in qualifying for Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.
The in-form Monegasque clocked a best lap of one minute and 31.628 seconds to improve his time in the final seconds and set up an end to Mercedes’ five-year domination of the event since it began in 2014.
After three successive Ferrari wins, two from Leclerc, he appears set to extend the scarlet scuderia’s run of success to four races, his performance making him the first Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher secured four straight poles in 2001 when Leclerc was aged three.
SIX poles overall in 2019
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 28, 2019
Series leader and defending five-time champion Lewis Hamilton pulled out a dazzling final sector and final lap to take second ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the other Ferrari by a narrow margin.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took fourth but, because of a penalty, dropped to the fifth row, with Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes joining Vettel on the second row.
“The car felt amazing. It definitely feels amazing to be back on pole, but I don’t know if it’s the best track to start on pole,” said Leclerc. “The straight at the start is very long. It definitely feels very special (to take four consecutive poles), but I don’t want to think about those stats!”
Hamilton said he remained amazed at Ferrari’s power and speed on the straights.
“I tell you, it was a tough session. These guys have another level on the straights – jet mode. I gave it everything I had and the team was able to tinker and push forward… I didn’t expect to get on the front row.”
Vettel said: “Obviously I’m not entirely happy and extracted the maximum from the car. Turn One is a long way – and we’re on different tyre strategies compared to the Mercs. Personally, I need a good start and then you worry about the race.”