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Ferrari sweeps qualifying for Las Vegas Grand Prix, but Sainz penalty drops him to 12th

AP – Ferrari rebounded from a disastrous first day of the Las Vegas Grand Prix with a Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr sweep of yesterday’s qualifying.

Only it does not translate into a 1-2 start in the race for the two Ferrari drivers. Sainz is in a backup car because his Ferrari was badly damaged when he ran over a drainage valve cover in Thursday night’s opening practice.

Because he needed to move to a backup car for the rest of the weekend, Sainz was penalised 10 spots on the starting grid and will instead start 12th.

Ferrari tried to argue against the penalty because the damage to the car was caused by the track surface, but the FIA had no provision in its rules to grant an exception.

After winning the pole, Leclerc’s image was broadcast on The Sphere that overlooks the 6.2 kilometre street circuit that utilises a large portion of the Strip.

Max Verstappen, who is seeking an 18th win of the season, qualified third for Red Bull.

George Russell was fourth for Mercedes and followed by Pierre Gasly of Alpine. Williams teammates Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant were sixth and seventh and it was the best qualifying effort of the season for American rookie Sargeant.

Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and McLaren drivers Lando Norris and rookie Oscar Piastri were eliminated in the first round.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc drives during the final practice session for the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix auto race. PHOTO: AP