American rookie stuns F1 with 36-year first in wild Vegas qualifying

Charles Leclerc has claimed pole position for the Las Vegas Grand Prix in a wild qualifying session.

Ferrari dominated qualifying, claiming a 1-2 with Leclerc taking out his 23rd career pole position and Carlos Sainz showing excellent pace over a single lap.

Watch the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix SUN 19th NOV 5PM AEDT. Join Kayo now and start streaming instantly >

But it doesn’t mean much for Sainz after he was handed a harsh 10-place grid penalty when his car was torn apart by a loose manhole during practice — despite him not being at fault at all.

He will start from 12th on the grid, with Max Verstappen to start alongside Leclerc on the front row after being third quickest in qualifying.

Daniel Ricciardo was 15th fastest in Q2 and was knocked out in the second qualifying session along with Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez as the starting grid was thrown into chaos.

Ricciardo said on team radio: “We’ll focus on tomorrow.”

In a remarkable turn of events, both Williams drivers Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant qualified in fifth and sixth, respectively.

It was a massive surprise for American rookie Sargeant, who has qualified dead last at the last few races and has just one championship point to his name this season.

Sargeant will become the first American driver to start a race in the United States in the top 10 since 1987.

Eight different teams feature in the top 10.

It was a disastrous qualifying for McLaren, with both drivers unable to make it out of the first session in a major disappointment.

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri looked well off the pace as qualifying progressed as a very different looking top 10 began to take shape.

Street circuits are notoriously hard to overtake on so Norris and Piastri could be in for a tough race on Sunday.

David Croft said on Sky Sports: “That will be a massive disappointment for McLaren even after some very steady, pedestrian practice session times yesterday. That could be crucial given Aston’s battle in the championship is with McLaren.

“As it was in Miami for the first race of the season in the US, both McLarens not getting into Q2. They weren’t expecting miracles here but they were expecting better than that.”

Martin Brundle added: “Both McLarens are out. That’s a big, big surprise here. They just never looked quite fast enough. I didn’t expect them to be out in Q1.”

Piastri was at somewhat of a loss to explain why the car struggled in Las Vegas despite showing strong pace at other circuits.

“I think the pace of the car is quite good, we just got caught out not using a second set of tyres or something like that,” the Aussie rookie said.

“The car was pretty decent in P3 and we were in a pretty normal spot at the start of qualifying.”

Lando Norris said: “It’s painful that we didn’t get into Q2.”

Watch the Las Vegas Grand Prix on Sunday at 5pm AEDT on Kayo Sports.

Las Vegas Grand Prix provisional starting grid

1) Charles Leclerc

2) Max Verstappen

3) George Russell

4) Pierre Gasly

5) Alex Albon

6) Logan Sargeant

7) Valtteri Bottas

8) Kevin Magnussen

9) Fernando Alonso

10) Lewis Hamilton

11) Sergio Perez

12) Carlos Sainz

13) Nico Hulkenberg

14) Daniel Ricciardo

15) Lando Norris

16) Esteban Ocon

17) Zhou Guanyu

18) Oscar Piastri

19) Lance Stroll

20) Yuki Tsunoda

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