Mercedes secured the front row of the grid for the Spanish Grand Prix but third place for Max Verstappen puts him in a strong position to attack in tomorrow’s race.
Lewis Hamilton edged team mate Valtteri Bottas for pole position by less than a tenth of a second. Further back, Sergio Perez claimed fourth on his return, while Sebastian Vettel again failed to reach Q3.
Besides the high temperatures, drivers had tricky wind conditions to deal with. George Russell said he experienced a strong gust as his first qualifying effort him behind team mate Nicholas Latifi. He improved with his second effort, however, putting him on course to continue his run of Q2 appearances.
Russell’s team mate plus the four Ferrari-powered customer cars occupied the bottom five places in the drop zone as the final runs began. However he found himself in heavy traffic.
“This is a complete mess,” said Russell as he picked his way in between the Mercedes and Ferraris in the final sector before beginning his last effort. Further ahead Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed a quieter stretch of track and delivered a superb lap to claim 15th – his first appearance in Q2 this year.
Russell joined his team mate in elimination. Antonio Giovinazzi, who scraped his car on a kerb earlier in the session, was slowest. The Haas drivers couldn’t match the impressive practice pace shown by Romain Grosjean yesterday, though the two VF-20s managed to out-pace the Williams pair.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
|20||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1’18.697|
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
The Mercedes drivers took up their usual places at the top of the times as Q2 began. All 15 remaining drivers used soft tyres for their first runs, and Hamilton’s 1’16.013 put him half a second ahead of anyone who wasn’t his team mate.
Sergio Perez threatened to get closer until he made a mistake at turn 12, slithering wide. He took fifth place initially, but lost that to Charles Leclerc.
The Ferrari driver wasn’t happy with that effort, which he called a “horrible lap”. Even so, he was four-tenths of a second quicker than Sebastian Vettel, whose first run left him out of the top 10 in 11th. Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, Daniil Kvyat and Kimi Raikkonen joined him in the drop zone ahead of the final runs.
Raikkonen unusually opted for a set of medium tyres for his last effort. He was the only driver to do so, and didn’t manage to progress any further, but was able to demote Ocon’s soft-tyred Renault to 15th.
Vettel briefly got into the top 10, but another excellent qualifying effort by Pierre Gasly put his AlphaTauri into Q3 and spoiled Vettel’s afternoon. The Ferrari driver was only knocked out by two-thousandths of a second, but more worryingly was four tenths slower than his team mate. He said nothing to his team as he drove back to the garage.
Both Renaults were eliminated before the pole position shoot-out, and Daniil Kvyat failed to accompany his team mate into Q3. “The out-lap didn’t help but that was everything I had,” he told his team.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
|14||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1’17.386|
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
After turning their engines up for potentially the last time, the Mercedes drivers edged further away from their rivals as Q3 began. It was close between them, however: Hamilton provisionally claimed the top spot by five-hundredths of a second from his team mate.
Verstappen was seven-tenths of a second back. Meanwhile Alexander Albon in the other Red Bull, who’d left the pits close enough to Hamilton to provoke the Mercedes driver into taking evasive action, was another second behind his team mate. The pair were separated by the two Racing Points – Perez ahead of Stroll – plus Norris and Leclerc.
Neither Mercedes driver was able to improve their time with their final run as track conditions seemed to deteriorate. That secured Hamilton’s 92nd pole position of his career.
“It seemed like maybe the track was slower, I don’t know,” remarked Verstappen as he was confirmed in third place having also failed to improve his lap time. Albon improved his time, but was still further away from his team mate than Verstappen was from the Mercedes. It moved him past Norris and Leclerc, the Racing Point drivers separating them.
But having won the last race from fourth on the grid, Verstappen consoled himself with the thought of what he might do from third.
“Good effort Max,” said team principal Christian Horner on the radio, “I think that was all that was in there today so good starting grid for tomorrow.”
“Exactly,” Verstappen replied.
Top ten in Q3
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda||1’16.292|
|4||Sergio Perez||Racing Point-Mercedes||1’16.482|
|5||Lance Stroll||Racing Point-Mercedes||1’16.589|
|6||Alexander Albon||Red Bull-Honda||1’17.029|
|7||Carlos Sainz Jnr||McLaren-Renault||1’17.044|
Go ad-free for just £1 per month
2020 Spanish Grand Prix
- 2020 Spanish Grand Prix Star Performers
- Hamilton’s record podium, Raikkonen’s record mileage
- F1 teams welcome ban on testing at new tracks for 2020
- Perez felt fit enough to return earlier – Szafnauer
- Electrical failure cost Leclerc fourth place, say Ferrari