Charles Leclerc delivered a perfect performance dominating qualifying to give Ferrari its 249th pole position and to secure his 23rd. That puts him level with Niki Lauda in second place on the Scuderia’s all-time list which is headed by Michael Schumacher on 58. The session that began on the stroke of midnight should have delivered a clean sweep for the Scuderia, as Carlos Sainz was second fastest just 44 thousandths of a second behind his team-mate, but he has to take a ten place grid penalty for a change of battery pack following the very dangerous incident in yesterday’s free practice when he hit a manhole cover loosened on the track.
Always first and second. The Scuderia pair was totally dominant, actually finishing first and second in all three phases of qualifying on the 6.201 kilometre-long city track running between the walls. In the final phase, Leclerc and Sainz each had two sets of new Soft tyres available and set their best times on their second runs: 1’32”726 for Charles and 1’32”770 for Carlos.
Racing on Saturday. Once again, Charles, Carlos and the team will be working into the small hours to prepare for the 50 lap race that starts at 22.00 local time on Saturday, effectively on the same day as qualifying, although back in Europe it will be 7am. There has not been a Saturday race since the 1985 South African GP. The top three teams in the constructors’ classification are all represented on the front two rows of the grid: Max Verstappen starts alongside Charles, with George Russell in third place, while their team-mates are in the midfield with Lewis Hamilton tenth, ahead of Sergio Perez and Carlos. One can therefore expect a race within a race with a lot of points up for grabs in the battle for that second spot in the constructors'.
Charles Leclerc #16
I'm excited to be starting on pole tomorrow, I really like the track and I've felt comfortable in the car all weekend. It's a bit more tricky than expected to overtake and I hope we see some good battles tomorrow. Our race pace looks quite good so hopefully we can convert the pole into a win.
Carlos Sainz #55
It’s been a great qualifying for the team. Unfortunately, it won’t be a front row lockout tomorrow as I will take a penalty. The frustration and anger I feel right now won’t go away easily, even more so looking at how competitive we are on this new track.
However, you can be sure I will do absolutely everything to recover from P12 and I know we can produce a solid race. It’s unknown territory, but hopefully it will be an enjoyable Sunday with many overtakes.
Frédéric Vasseur - Team Principal
This is a very good result for the team, to deliver a one-two in qualifying for the first time at this new Las Vegas track thanks to Charles, who showed once more his skills over a flying lap, and with Carlos also putting in a great performance very close behind. It’s significant that we have finished on top of the timesheet in every session which is good preparation for the race. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the penalty for Carlos, who deserved to start from the front row. We know the penalty is unfair but he has had strong and consistent pace all weekend, as has Charles. So we have to look ahead and no longer think about it, because the points are given out in the race and now we have to focus on ourselves.
We will now work on preparing our strategy, especially because on this type of circuit there could always be various scenarios involving Safety Cars and so on. I’m sure we can do a good job in the race and it’s also nice to see that there are four Ferrari power units in the top ten in qualifying. With the race starting at 10 at night, the track will again be rather cold, so in terms of tyre strategy the main concern will be addressing graining, rather than overheating.