Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 0.036s to 100th F1 pole in Spanish GP, with Valtteri Bottas only third.
The start of F1 Spanish GP Q1 was delayed by 10 minutes due to barrier repair after damage suffered in a support event. Mercedes opted to use the medium tyres – the only ones to do so, as Valtteri Bottas still managed to finish second.
McLaren’s Lando Norris ended up on top after a late quick lap, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc third. It was a close fight at the fag end of the grid, with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda getting knocked out in Q1 after a 1m18.556s lap, missing out by a mere 0.007s.
Replays showed Tsunoda going off, as despite showing promise, Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen (1m18.917s) ended up only 17th with Haas’ Mick Schumacher (1m19.117s) managing to beat Williams’ Nicholas Latifi (1m19.219s) and also teammate Nikita Mazepin (1m19.807s).
Interestingly, Haas opted for a three-timed lap strategy to maximise its opportunities, which also caused a traffic issue at one point, where they got into the way of Norris, who was the forced to do another lap. That moment is being looked at by the stewards.
The second part in F1 Spanish GP qualifying had everyone on the soft compound for their first run apart from Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who opted for the medium tyre. He switched to the soft compound for his second run, though.
At the front, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen headed the way from Mercedes pair of Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, with the Dutchman nearly half a second up on his rivals. Both of them went out for the second time, where the Brit had a used set on his car.
Both did improve on their lap times with the order remaining the same, but Hamilton did extra laps on his starting tyres. Having looked to be in a better shape on Friday, both the Aston Martin drivers were knocked out in Q2, with Lance Stroll (1m17.974s) in 11th.
He was only 0.008s away from making it in, as teammate Sebastian Vettel (1m18.079s) was 13th behind AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly (1m17.982s), while Alfa Romeo’s Giovinazzi (1m18.356s) and Williams’ George Russell (1m19.154s) rounded out the 16 runners.
The third part of the F1 Spanish GP qualifying saw some on used tyres, while the front-runners opted for a new set. The first run had Hamilton with provisional pole over Verstappen and Bottas, despite a 360 spin for Perez at Turn 13.
A small moment on the gravel was enough to send him in a spin, ruining his lap. The Top 3 remained the same in the second run with Hamilton retaining the lap of 1m16.741s to beat Verstappen (1m16.777s) by 0.036s to take his 100th career F1 pole in Spanish GP.
Bottas (1m16.873s) remained third with Ferrari’s Leclerc (1m17.510s) ending up fourth ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (1m17.580s), with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz (1m17.620s) in sixth. The McLaren battle was won by Daniel Ricciardo (1m17.622s) in seventh.
Teammate Norris (1m18.010s) was ninth behind Red Bull’s Perez (1m17.701s), who could only manage eighth, as Alpine’s Fernando Alonso (1m18.147s) rounded out the Top 10.
UPDATE: In the post-race decision, Mazepin was handed a three-place grid drop for the Spanish GP, which keeps him 20th, after he was found to have impeded Norris in Q1. The Russian had a difficult situation after he was passed by Raikkonen and Tsunoda.
But the stewards felt, Mazepin could have waited for Norris to pass and then attempt his re-pass on the two drivers, who passed him on track to get into the pits. The Russian was preparing for a fast lap, when the two passed him sensing Norris’ arrival.
Here’s what the stewards said: “The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 9 (Nikita Mazepin), the driver of car 4 (Lando Norris) and team representatives and reviewed multiple angles of video evidence, telemetry and team radio. During the Qualifying 1 session, Mazepin was setting up for a fast lap. As he approached turns 10 and 11 Mazepin was informed that Norris was closing on a fast lap behind him and was informed of the closing gap all the way through to the incident.
“Mazepin then slowed to maintain the gap to Schumacher ahead of him with both setting up for their fast laps. Between turn 13 and 14, Raikkonen and Tsunoda, who were coming into the pits, jumped ahead of Mazepin. Both cars had also been informed of the fast closing Norris, and it is clear that they did this to get out of Norris’ way. However, this created a difficult situation for Mazepin.
“The Stewards determined that having been clearly informed of Norris’ whereabouts, Mazepin’s decision to pull out and re-pass Raikkonen and Tsunoda clearly impeded Norris, who lost significant time. The Stewards recognize that this sequence of corners creates a special challenge to the drivers in qualifying and that Mazepin was faced with a difficult situation.
“This was also pointed out by Norris in the hearing. However, had Mazepin waited for Norris to pass, he could have pulled out and followed Norris and the Stewards determined this opportunity was available to him without significantly compromising his next lap. The Stewards therefore order the usual penalty for “unnecessary impeding” of a three grid place drop and a single penalty point.”