Ferrari's Charles Leclerc claimed a commanding pole position for the penultimate race of the Formula 1 season, the Vegas Grand Prix. On the dazzling streets of Las Vegas, the Monegasque ace secured his fifth pole of the year and the 23rd of his career with a blistering lap time of 1:32.726 minutes.
Leclerc's closest rival was teammate Carlos Sainz Jr., who trailed by just 44 thousandths of a second. However, due to numerous car modifications following an incident on Friday, Sainz will incur a 10-place grid penalty. As a result of Sainz's penalty, reigning world champion Max Verstappen, who finished 0.378 seconds behind Leclerc, will inherit second place on the starting grid.
The battle for pole under the dazzling Las Vegas lights was essentially a two-horse race between the Ferrari duo of Leclerc and Sainz, while Verstappen remained in their shadows. The Dutchman only ventured out for his final qualifying run three minutes before the session's conclusion, leaving him insufficient time to warm his tires and effectively challenge the Ferraris.
Nevertheless, Leclerc edged out his teammate by a mere whisker. Mercedes' George Russell emerged as the best of the rest, ahead of Pierre Gasly in his Alpine and the Williams duo of Alex Albon and Logan Sargent, who delivered the most pleasant surprise of the day.
Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas secured the eighth fastest time, while Haas' Kevin Magnussen and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10. Due to Sainz's undeserved penalty, Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes and Red Bull's Sergio Perez will each move up one position from their qualifying results.
The pair topped the second qualifying session, surprising many, while the second Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll of Aston Martin, and Daniel Ricciardo of Alpha Tauri were eliminated. Shockwaves reverberated through the paddock in Q1 as the McLaren duo of Lando Norris (16th) and Oscar Piastri (19th) failed to progress.
Esteban Ocon in his Alpine and Alfa Romeo's Guanju Zhou joined them on the sidelines, while Alpha Tauri's Yuki Tsunoda propped up the rear.