Hamilton takes pole as Mercedes face no opposition in Spanish GP qualifying

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

It's a 5th pole position at Circuit de Catalunya for Lewis Hamilton as he beat Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by a few hundredths. The rest, lead by Max Verstappen, were all at least 7 tenths behind on the black Mercedes.

Qualifying got off to a slow start at Barcelona, and it was only after 4 minutes that Williams sent out both its drivers to the track. When Latifi and Russell completed their laps, and slowly returned to the pits, most others thought of joining the action, with Verstappen leading the both Mercedes out on track.

Verstappen was obviously quicker than the early times from Williams, but he was soon eclipsed by both Mercedes and the Racing Point drivers. Perez ended up second fastest behind Hamilton, missing just 0.080s. Sainz and Leclerc were next up in the pecking order after the first laps.

However, with the cutoff car in 16th just 1s down on the pace setter, nearly everybody went out again. Only Racing Point's Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll opted to stay put in the garage.

Most cars out improved on their earlier laps, with Sainz notably posting a purple first sector before backing out of it, and returning to the pits. The main losers were Williams, as instead of 15th and 16th after the first attempts, they ended up 18th and 19th. They were eliminated along with both Haas drivers and Giovinazzi, while Kimi Raikkonen made it through into Q2, nearly a full second faster than his Italian teammate.

After the short break, Valtteri Bottas kicked off Q2, closely followed by Lewis Hamilton. The latter turned out fastest, despite Bottas setting the best first sector so far. Max Verstappen was again third fastest, followed by Sainz and Leclerc.

Times from 4th to 11th were all within 5 tenths, so positions were far from fixed before the second series of flying laps. For those attempts, everybody was closely bunched up and completed the warm-up lap in formation, keeping tyre temperatures under control.

Leclerc though had none of it, and passed a few cars to start his flying lap first as everybody else snailed towards the chicane in sector 3 to power up for their flyer.

The Ferrari driver though had a less than perfect lap and failed to improve, but he wasn't the only one, as almost nobody managed to do so.

Gasly did improve to 5th, but he didn't really have to. Norris was lucky to just make it through without improving on his earlier attempt, while Vettel just missed out on the top 10 by 0.002s, along with Kvyat, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Ocon.

In Q3, Stroll and Perez really wanted to be the first out on track, as both stood still at the end of the pitlane for at least a minute, waiting in the scorching sun for the light to go green.

They were first indeed, but certainly not fastest. Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen all did better on their first outing. Hamilton was just 0.059s faster than his teammate, thanks only to a better final sector, as Bottas had done slightly better in the first sections of the track.

As the second laps didn't bring much once again, Hamilton took pole for a 5th time at Barcelona, topping Bottas and the rest. The rest being the non-Mercedes cars that were all more than 7 tenths slower than Hamilton.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:16.8721:16.0131:15.58415
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:17.2431:16.1521:15.64315
333Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:17.2131:16.5181:16.29215
411Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:17.1171:16.9361:16.48215
518Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:17.3161:16.6661:16.58915
623Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda1:17.4191:17.1631:17.02918
755Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault1:17.4381:16.8761:17.04417
84Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault1:17.5771:17.1661:17.08418
916Charles LeclercFerrari1:17.2561:16.9531:17.08718
1010Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri Honda1:17.3561:16.8001:17.13618
115Sebastian VettelFerrari1:17.5731:17.168-12
1226Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri Honda1:17.6761:17.192-12
133Daniel RicciardoRenault1:17.6671:17.198-12
147Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:17.7971:17.386-12
1531Esteban OconRenault1:17.7651:17.567-12
1620Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:17.908--6
178Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:18.089--6
1863George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:18.099--9
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:18.532--9
2099Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:18.697--6