Lewis Hamilton has beaten his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by four-hundredths of a second to take pole position for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix. The Englishman set his fastest team on the supersoft tyres to improve by just over three tenths.
The four times champion’s first pole of the season put him four tenths faster than Bottas and a tenth faster than title rival Sebastian Vettel. However Vettel couldn’t improve on the faster supersoft tyres, meaning the team were unable to match Hamilton. That was despite him looking faster in Q1 and Q2.
Max Verstappen narrowly out-qualified his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo by just two thousandths of a second in fourth and fifth. However, both drivers set there fastest times on different compounds of tyre, Verstappen on the supersoft and Ricciardo on softs.
Hamilton said “It’s always a great atmosphere in Barcelona, there’s loads of Brits and even Spanish fans supporting a Brit which is great. I needed this pole, I haven’t had a pole for a while. It’s a Mercedes one-two!”
Valtteri Bottas added “It was so close today, like it has been all week. ruined my first run in Q3 so I really only had one chance. It is a shame it is only four hundredths but it is good for the team. We will race hard tomorrow and try and get the one two we deserved in Baku.”
Vettel said “I was happy with the lap, the first round in Q3 I locked into the first corner, but I was happy with the last lap, I was feeling good. I looked at the tower and I saw my name didn’t go up… but we expected Mercedes to be strong so we will see what happens tomorrow.”
The top three teams appear very close on time, with the top six drivers all setting times in one sixteens, with their teammates not far being far behind.
Mercedes appeared on Friday, to have that edge over Ferrari on the faster supersoft tyres. Again like on Friday, the prancing horses failed to get the tyres to work, that means they reverted to the slower soft tyres, leaving them unable to challenge the sliver arrows.
It was another good session for both of the Haas, the team has shown strong pace all weekend with Kevin Magnussen seventh. While his teammate Romain Grosjean edged out McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.
The Spaniard got McLaren through to Q3 for the first time this season, at the expense of his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne in the closing moments of Q2. The Belgian managed to improve on his final run but it wasn’t enough to get out of the drop zone.
Nine of the top ten drivers used the soft Pirellis to set their Q2 times, meaning all except Alonso, who used supersofts, will start on that compound. The Spaniard has out-qualified Vandoorne at every race this season.
Alonso told Sky Sports “We definitely made a step forward at this race. Everything that we bring to the track is delivering the expectations and the lap times that we were expecting from them. From now on we need to push the development and bring new parts every single race.”
Vandoorne was two-tenths of Alonso in Q2, he will start ahead of Pierre Gasly. It was another good session for Saubers Charles Leclerc, the Monacan getting through to Q2 and splitting the Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.
Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest driver to be eliminated in Q1 in 16th place after Vandoorne made a late improvement. The German was the surprise casualty, on his first run he was unable to set a time because of what the team described as a “fuel pressure issue” that held him back throughout Q1, and only had time for a single attempt on his second run and ending up 0.038 slower than Vandoorne.
Williams difficult start to the season continued as Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll were the slowest qualifiers. The team’s miserable session topped off with Stroll spinning out in the closing seconds of Q1, losing control of his car at Turn 13 and ending up in the wall.
Brendon Hartley failed to set a time after destroying his car in a heavy crash in final practice, meaning he will start from the back of the pack.