Many would suggest that the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying result saw Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc right on top only since Max Verstappen began to experience familiar problems with his Red Bull.
After all, forget not that the driver who, all of a sudden, whisked past all the fast challengers to emerge on top of the time charts in the fading moments of Q2 was Verstappen- not Leclerc.
But truth be told, as the sun began to beat down on what was already a hot and humid Circuit de Barcelona at Catalunya track, Leclerc, utterly unperturbed by what was happening around him kept pushing and pushing.
And in the end, it was the Ferrari #16 that emerged the fastest upon the completion of the back breakingly competitive Q3 at Spain.
This meant that by not holding himself back and giving it everything, Ferrari’s blue-eyed boy claimed what’s now turned out to be the thirteenth pole position of his career.
Earlier, in Australia, he already produced a smashing grand slam result- including the pole, the fastest lap, as well as the victory.
Moreover, the man who considered the late Jules Bianchi his mentor, has just claimed his fourth pole position of the year and unless one forgot, the Spanish qualifying contest was just the sixth of the year.
Whether you are a habitual number cruncher, a meme junkie or an F1 purist who longs to see tracks like Kyalami return to the grid, by no estimation can you disregard Charles Leclerc’s consistency.
After all, emerging with 4 poles in 6 races is something special and not to be doubted.
That in doing so, Leclerc successfully overcame the exasperating challenge of beating his own teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr., who was competing at his home racing event, was no mean feat.
But nor was the fact that Charles Leclerc came right on top of two-not one- Red Bulls.
Though that being told, there’s more to Leclerc’s sensational pole drive at Catalunya than one would imagine; the Monegasque setting a blazing and very committed 1:18:750 in the end, an effort that would usurp Verstappen by not more than three-tenths of a second.
And that’s special.
For that is where glory rests in Formula 1; at the end of every spicy corner, at the back of every spine bending turn. It stays buried in the very fine margins that punctuate the sport and differentiate efforts from being banal and breathtaking.
Come Sunday and Charles Leclerc will be aware that in his mirrors will be no other than the driver considered the shark of overtaking, Max Verstappen.
Additionally, he’ll be aware that Sainz, still new to Ferrari, will be equally hungry to pounce on any chance whatsoever to surge ahead and fight it out.
That the two Ferraris have been bisected by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen also offers another mouth watering anticipation of seeing a tug of war, the likes of which we’ve already seen at events like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
But here’s the truth sans any drama; even if something untoward happens to Leclerc in the end for it’s F1, where the occurrence of the unexpected is often the norm, one thing will stand out.
And it’s that despite confronting the enormity of pressure, something that’s been building on him lap after lap, race after race this season, that Leclerc exhibited temerity and tremendous control in Q3 was the key talking point.
Therefore should the front row start produce an eighteenth career podium for Charles Leclerc, it would be the perfect reward for persistence, for hanging in there, whilst being clearly aware of the savagery that Verstappen can still produce despite a semi-fit machine.
So can that actually happen?
What we have ahead of us are 66 back-breaking and hopefully, intoxicating laps with three of the best of the current grid leading the proceedings.
The fan who only sees red will obviously look nowhere else. But the one who also believes in Formula 1’s obsession with happenstance will not completely discard Russell, Perez and Hamilton from being a party to the Spanish caravan.
It’s lights out and away we go!