Norris flies to take pole position for Spanish Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Competition was close and Verstappen looked very strong in the early parts of qualifying, but when it really mattered, Lando Norris beat everybody and set the fastest lap to take pole for the Spanish Grand Prix. Verstappen was second fastest ahead of the Mercedes duo.

On the back of a very close final free practice session pressure was high on drivers as the slightest mistake could mean a big difference in grid position. The Sauber and Williams cars were traditionally among the first to take the track but it wasn't until 10 minutes from the end that the real contenders started dropping their times.

Verstappen was first and lapped in 1:12.306 to top the best time so far by 7 tenths. Norris later slotted in closely behind Verstappen, just like Sainz and Russell. Leclerc did better still and went to top the timesheet approximately 8 minutes from the end.

As Stroll complained of impeding at was clear that the Astons were struggling. Tsunoda and Ricciardo were also in danger of getting ousted, just like the Williams drivers.

Perez was tenth with 2 minutes left on the clock and improved to 6th half a minute later. Bottas and Zhou then improved to 8th and 9th with Ocon moving up into 7th. with the track clearly improving only the top 6 remained inside the box.

Alonso then was in trouble, just like Hamilton but both managed to find decent gains. In fact, Hamilton went fastest overall with a lap of 1:12.143, slightly more than a tenth up on Leclerc.

The two Saubers and Stroll were the last to make the cut, dropping out Magnussen, the RB cars and both Williams.

In Q2 we had Lance Stroll setting the first time but it was quickly beaten by Ocon by no less than a full second. Perez and Gasly soon did better still but all used new tyres whereas Stroll did his first lap on a set of used softs. Hamilton later also did his first run on used softs but was nearly a full second quicker than Stroll and just a tenth behind Alonso who had done his first on fresh softs.

At the top the times were again very close with Verstappen eventually going fastest, two tenths quicker than Norris and Sainz. Piastri and Leclerc stranded at 0.358s and 0.385s respectively.

One minute from the end Hamilton completed his run on a fresh set of tyres and ended up second fastest. Alonso meanwhile was setting personal bests in every sector but eventually lacked 0.014s to make it through, leaving both Aston Martins, the Saubers and the remaining Haas to be eliminated.

In Q3 the Red Bulls were out first and Verstappen easily got the upper hand on his team mate by a considerable 1.388 seconds. Sainz was up next and ended up in second, soon toppled by Norris.

The Mercedes were last to complete their first flying laps and they did well. Hamilton and Russell moved into third and fourth place, demoting the Ferrari duo to 5th and 6th who then were ahead of the Alpine duo. Perez sat 9th while Piastri got his laptime deleted for track limits.

Piastri later also messed up his second lap by going wide and through the gravel at Turn 9, leaving him to return to the pits without setting a time and settling for 10th.

Sainz meanwhile did improve and got to within 0.063s of Verstappen. Leclerc got even closer but Verstappen improved another two tenths. That improvement didn't impress Norris too much however as the Englishman went on to complete a blistering lap and take pole position by 0.020s.

Hamilton got back to third with Russell fourth fastest, just 0.002s slower than his team mate.