First place Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack in Spa, Belgium, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022 | Photo: AP
MONTMELO: Max Verstappen steered his Red Bull to pole position at Formula One’s Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Carlos Sainz on Saturday.
The two-time defending champion and points leader has secured pole for four of seven races so far this season.
Sainz got his Ferrari into the front row, with Lando Norris third for McLaren.
Home favorite Fernando Alonso could do no better than ninth after his Aston Martin took some damage to the bottom of his car after running through the gravel.
Verstappen's teammate, Sergio Pérez, who has won two races this season, also struggled and will start from 11th.
Charles Leclerc took pole last year, but this time he will start the race from 19th after his Ferrari was perplexingly slow.
George Russell also had trouble and will start 12th right behind Pérez after complaining that his Mercedes was bouncing and that he “had no confidence with tires.” He and teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was fifth, even touched at one point while trying to launch flying laps, causing bits of one of their cars to fly off.
Verstappen and Pérez have swept all six wins this season. Verstappen leads Pérez by 39 points and Alonso by 51.
Rain during third practice earlier Saturday left some wet patches that caused several cars to spin into the gravel early in qualifying.
The race is on Sunday.