F1 world championship leader Leclerc was on the back foot after spinning on his first lap of Q3, but the Monegasque impressively recovered to put his Ferrari on pole for the fourth time this season.

Despite only having one flying lap right at the end of qualifying, Leclerc was able to displace his main championship rival at the top of the timesheet as the only driver to dip into the 1m18s.

Leclerc finished 0.323s faster than provisional pole sitter Verstappen, who reported a sudden loss of power as he started his second and final run of Q3.

After qualifying, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky that it was a fault with the DRS on Verstappen’s car that actually prevented the Red Bull driver from challenging for pole.

Home-hero Carlos Sainz was a tenth shy of joining his Ferrari teammate on the front row of the grid as he took third, while George Russell secured Mercedes’ best qualifying result of the season so far in fourth. 

Russell ended up a sizeable six-tenths of a second down on Leclerc’s benchmark but was able to outpace Sergio Perez’s Red Bull and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who trailed his younger compatriot by 0.119s. 

Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas finished seventh ahead of Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren, and Mick Schumacher, who scored his best-ever qualifying result in F1. 

It marked the first time this season that Haas have got both cars into Q3, despite being the only team not to bring upgrades to Spain. 

Lando Norris missed out on the top 10 shootout after seeing his best lap time deleted for track limits at Turn 12, leaving the McLaren driver 11th. 

Two-tenths behind Norris came Esteban Ocon’s Alpine and the two AlphaTauri’s of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly, whose car was seen smoking in qualifying after his heat shield issue that ruled him out of final practice earlier on Saturday. 

Guanyu Zhou was 15th for Alfa Romeo, while Sebastian Vettel could only qualify 16th for Aston Martin and was joined in the Q1 drop zone by fellow multiple world champion Fernando Alonso, who suffered a shock early elimination on home soil. 

Alonso failed to improve after he appeared to be blocked by Norris at the final chicane, ruining the Alpine driver’s final flying lap of the session. However, the stewards decided not to investigate the incident. 

Both Aston Martins dropped out in Q1 with Lance Stroll 18th, ahead of the Williams pair of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi