The F1 world championship has been thrown on its head after disaster struck for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Welcome to news.com.au’s coverage of tonight’s F1 Spanish Grand Prix.
Championship leader Charles Leclerc is set to resume battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen when the race gets underway at 11pm (AEST).
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Leclerc survived a late mishap in qualifying to take pole position. Verstappen was second fastest and will be sandwiched between the two Ferraris, with Carlos Sainz starting in third at his home Grand Prix.
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo will start ninth after he out-qualified his McLaren teammate Lando Norris for the first time this season.
Absolute disaster for Leclerc
Charles Leclerc is out of the race after his Ferrari lost suddenly lost power and he was forced to retire and return to the pits.
It’s an absolutely disaster for the championship leader, who had a large lead and appeared to be crusing to victory.
Leclerc screamed over team radio: “No no no I lost power! What happened? What happened? I lost power.”
Sky Sports commentator Ted Kravitz said: “Shock on the Ferrari pitwall.
“Charles Leclerc could scarcely believe it. He’s distraught.”
Martin Brundle: “That’s a big moment for the world championship.”
Sergio Perez now leads the race ahead of George Russell and Max Verstappen, who will likely eat into Leclerc’s championship lead.
Verstappen, Sainz fly off track
Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen have each dropped a few places after they both went off the track at Turn 4.
Red Bull told Verstappen there is a strong gust of wind on the entry to Turn 4 making life tricky for the drivers.
Verstappen’s DRS isn’t working on his car, so he has his work cut out to catch Charles Leclerc, who is well clear in the lead.
Lewis Hamilton off to nightmare start
The Spanish Grand Prix is underway but Lewis Hamilton couldn’t have had a worse start, suffering a tyre puncture on the opening lap, forcing him to come into the pits as he fell down to dead last.
“That’s the worst possible start for him,” Sky Sports commentator said of Hamilton.
Haas’ Kevin Magnussen was nudged off the track by Hamilton and went into the gravel and he was furious at the seven-time world champion.
“Lewis just rammed me,” Magnussen said on team radio.
“He knew what he was doing.”
World champ dealt pre-race blow
Fernando Alonso will start from last after he was handed a grid penalty for taking a new power unit for his Alpine.
The two-time world champion made a blistering criticism of Formula 1’s current stewarding standards, accusing those running the sport of incompetence after he was given time penalties at the Miami Grand Prix.
He was given a five-second penalty for a collision with Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly and another similar one for cutting the chicane in the closing laps. The Alpine team disputed the decisions with data.
“We believe that it was very unfair and just incompetence from the stewards,” Alonso said.
“They were not very professional in Miami. I missed one corner and then I gave back the time on the lap, but … they took the decision without asking (for) any proof.”
Alonso said he had cleared the air with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem in the wake of his criticism.
“I speak with him regularly,” Alonso said.
“He knew my feedback after Miami already.
“So he was aware of everything. At the end of the day, we are all trying to help each other you know, the FIA, drivers, GPDA, we are all in the same boat, and we try to make the sport more fair and better.
“So I think it was a nice and friendly talk, and we will move forward and hopefully get better and more consistent.”
Spanish Grand Prix starting grid
1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
4) George Russell, Mercedes
5) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
6) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
7) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
8) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
9) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
10) Mick Schumacher, Haas
11) Lando Norris, McLaren
12) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
13) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
14) Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri
15) Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo
16) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
17) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
18) Alex Albon, Williams
19) Nicholas Latifi, Williams
20) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
Originally published as Spanish F1 Grand Prix live: Charles Leclerc out in absolute disaster