The Ferrari driver had everything to do in the latter part of qualifying after turning the penultimate corner on his bank lap in Q3, but the points leader was knocked out on his second attempt.
A run of 1m18.750s comfortably marked the fastest lap of the weekend as he grabbed his 13th F1 pole position three tenths clear of title rival Verstappen.
The defending champion, who held provisional pole after his first effort in Q3, was forced to abort his final flying lap after his Red Bull endured even more unreliability and died at Turn 3.
Verstappen, the comfortable Q2 leader, had not long delivered a crushing run in the final sector to extract a four-tenths advantage on his fast first lap in the final part of qualifying to post a time of 1m19.073s.
It propelled him to the top of the timing screens as he ran a mighty 0.35s lead over provisional leader Sainz, while Perez finished third ahead of the Mercedes pair.
Leclerc was the major name missing at the top of the times after throwing out his first lap in Q3 with a lap 14 despite achieving a session-best five mini-sectors during the lap.
The Ferrari’s rear axle spun into the left-hand side of the tight chicane when, like at Imola, it grabbed too much curb. He then blocked all four tires, immobilizing the car.
Leclerc was fitted with a new set of soft tires and set off relatively early for the climax of qualifying, leaving his garage with three and a half minutes to go.
But he assembled the second and third fastest sectors to take pole position.
After the power cut, Verstappen was finally able to restart his car, and his first try proved enough to complete the front row ahead of Sainz, who fell a tenth with his 1m19.166s.
George Russell led Mercedes’ renewed effort with fourth as he edged past Sergio Perez, while Lewis Hamilton raced to sixth after his first lap in Q3 was injured by oversteer on the final corner.
Valtteri Bottas took seventh place for Alfa Romeo ahead of Kevin Magnussen, while Daniel Ricciardo was resigned to ninth after McLaren opted out of sending him on for a second charge in Q3.
Mick Schumacher, meanwhile, completes the top 10.
Lando Norris failed to progress into the top 10 by 0.035 seconds when the stewards scrapped his last flying lap in the 15-minute session for slightly overshooting the track at Turn 12.
The McLaren driver, who also cut the turn 14 marker, had just stopped Mick Schumacher from slipping into Q3 before his lap was scrapped and he was relegated.
Esteban Ocon interrupted his second effort in Q2 to move up to 12th, while Yuki Tsunoda edged out AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly.
The French rider had struggled with turn 5 understeer on his last run, having missed almost all of FP3 due to a fire that broke out on his setup lap.
Alfa Romeo rookie Guanyu Zhou completes the top 15.
World champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso were the main scalps to claim in the first part of qualifying as they were shuffled in the last five places.
Alpine driver Alonso, preparing for his home race, was forced to pull back from his final flying lap partly thanks to early traffic from Norris, but the stewards did not intervene. This left Alonso plagued as the usual flurry of improved times landed late.
Fast laps from Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo secured their progress and then dropped Vettel and Alonso to the 16th and 17th finals in the standings.
Vettel, after missing the Q2 limit by 0.07 seconds, at least managed to overtake team-mate Lance Stroll as the Canadian guided the much-scrutinized and updated AMR22 to just 18th.
Alex Albon edged Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi to complete the back row of the grid.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1’19.073||0.323|
|5||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||1’19.420||0.670|
|7||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1’19.608||0.858|
|13||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri/Red Bull||1’20.639||1.889|
|14||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri/Red Bull||1’20.861||2.111|
|15||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1’21.094||2.344|
|16||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin/Mercedes||1’20.954||2.204|
|18||Spear Stroll||Aston Martin/Mercedes||1’21.418||2.668|