Max Verstappen secured his fourth pole position of the season by setting the benchmark in the qualifying session at the Spanish Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez and George Russell failed to reach Q3. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on the nail-biting qualifying session from Barcelona.
Q1 – Leclerc endures elimination
The first part of the qualifying session saw drivers head out quickly on to the Barcelona-Cataluny track with the rain threatening and forcing teams not to waste any time in the pits.
After struggling for balance on Friday, Lewis Hamilton set the timing sheets alive by posting the fastest lap of the weekend with a time of 1m12.937s to top Q1.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who secured the pole position for last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, complained about the rear of his car, and was unable to progress into the middle part of the qualifying session.
Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen, Alexander Albon, Charles Leclerc and Logan Sargeant were eliminated in Q1.
Q2 – Perez and Russell out
The second qualifying segment saw Max Verstappen raise the bar as the Dutchman set a time of 1m12.760s which was two tenths of a second quicker than what Hamilton managed in the previous session.
Although there was tension at Ferrari following Leclerc’s exit in Q1, Sainz set a time of 1m12.790s to take P3 in Q3, demonstrating the speed of the heavily upgraded Ferrari SF23.
Besides Verstappen and Sainz, the McLaren duo of Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri, the Alpine duo of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, the Aston Martin pair of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll and the sole Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and the only Haas racer Nico Hulkenberg managed to progress into Q3.
However, his teammate Sergio Perez struggled for pace as he did in Q1 and failed to progress into the all-important part of qualifying. George Russell posted promising sector times in Q1, but he was unable to put a lap together which saw him end up only 12th fastest.
Sergio Perez, George Russell, Zhou Guanyu, Nyck de Vries and Yuki Tsunoda were eliminated in Q2.Q3 – Verstappen dominates last segment
In the last qualifying segment, most of the drivers were restricted to one single set of fresh soft tyres as they used the other sets in the previous qualifying session. Capitalizing on his pace, Verstappen could save up two fresh sets of C3 compound and made good use of that, setting the best lap of the weekend on his first hot lap with a time of 1m12.272s.
Although the Dutchman was unable to improve his time on his second set of fresh red-walled tyres, it was still enough to snatch pole position from Ferrari’s home hero Sainz. The Spaniard was battling in the first and second qualifying segment to get himself through into the next session, but he came alive on the last flying lap to secure P2 in front of his home crowd.
McLaren’s Lando Norris posted an impressive lap time in Q2 which he could replicate in the dying minutes of the session to snatch P3 ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.
Despite topping the first qualifying segment, Lewis Hamilton’s last effort saw him take only P5, beating Aston Martin racer Lance Stroll. Confirming Alpine’s improving form, Esteban Ocon took P7 for the French outfit with Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg securing P8 for tomorrow’s Barcelona round.
Unable to get the best out of his car, home hero Fernando Alonso had to settle for ninth position after he was half a second slower than his own best lap time set in the second qualifying session. McLaren’s Australian driver Oscar Piastri rounded out top ten.
More to follow...
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:13.615||1:12.760||1:12.272||20|
|3||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:13.295||1:12.776||1:12.792||22|
|4||10||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault||1:13.471||1:13.186||1:12.816||21|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:13.766||1:13.082||1:12.994||23|
|7||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:13.433||1:13.001||1:13.083||21|
|8||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas Ferrari||1:13.420||1:13.283||1:13.229||18|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:13.747||1:13.098||1:13.507||18|
|10||81||Oscar Piastri||Mclaren Mercedes||1:13.691||1:13.059||1:13.682||20|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:13.874||1:13.334||17|
|13||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:13.677||1:13.521||16|
|14||21||Nyck De Vries||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:13.581||1:14.083||16|
|15||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:13.862||1:14.477||19|
|16||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:13.977||10|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:14.042||9|
|18||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:14.063||8|
|20||2||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes||1:14.699||6|