Hamilton leads Silver Arrows front row in Spain

Lewis Hamilton leads a Mercedes front row at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, from Valtteri Bottas with title rival Sebastian Vettel in third.

The defending champion was fastest after the first runs in the Q3 top ten shootout, and like Bottas opted for another set of supersoft Pirellis for his second run.

Hamilton banged in a lap of one minute, 16.173 seconds to shave just over three tenths off his earlier time to secure top spot.

Bottas was a little bit faster than Hamilton in the first and third sectors, but Hamilton’s mighty speed in the second sector meant Bottas ended up second best.

With some of Mercedes’ rivals struggling to get the best out of the supersofts, Sebastian Vettel used softs to take third place for Ferrari, 0.132 seconds off the pace.

His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth.

That put him ahead of the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, who were separated by just two thousandths of a second in fourth and fifth.

This was despite the Red Bull drivers splitting their tyre choice, with Verstappen setting his time on supersofts and Ricciardo on softs.

Kevin Magnussen was best of the rest for Haas, ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Romain Grosjean was ninth, ahead of the Renault of Carlos Sainz.

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 tyre compound.

Stoffel Vandoorne lapped 0.223 seconds slower than team-mate Alonso in Q2 using soft Pirellis, ending up in P11 and fastest of the five drivers eliminated at that stage.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was P12, just ahead of the Force India of Esteban Ocon.

Sauber’s Charles Leclerc managed to split the Force Indias with a lap of one minute, 18.910 seconds, almost two-tenths faster than Sergio Perez.

Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest driver to be eliminated in Q1 in P16 after Vandoorne made a late improvement.

The Renault driver was unable to set a time on his first run owing to 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 – ending up 0.038 seconds slower than Vandoorne.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was P17, over half-a-second behind Hulkenberg, with Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, who must serve a three-place grid penalty thanks to hitting Sergio Perez on the first lap of the last race in Baku, P18.

Lance Stroll was P19, crashing exiting the Turn 12 right-hander on his final flier after running wide then losing it on the throttle at the exit as he ran into the gravel.

He spun, glancing the wall, and ended up coming to rest at the entry of Turn 13.

Brendon Hartley did not participate in qualifying after spinning at the high-speed Campsa right-hander at the end of the third free practice session and backing heavily into the barriers.

His Toro Rosso team could not get the car repaired during the two-hour gap before qualifying. So will start the race last.

So a superb Mercedes one-two qualifying result. The first for the team this season. Two years ago, the Silver Arrows started on the front row but clashed on the opening lap… Fingers crossed the Spanish Grand Prix will be incident-free for Hamilton and Bottas.

Qualifying positions, Spanish Grand Prix:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m16.173s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m16.213s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m16.305s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m16.612s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m16.816s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m16.818s
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m17.676s
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m17.721s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m17.790s
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m17.835s
11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m18.323s
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m18.463s
13 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m18.696s
14 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m18.910s
15 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m19.098s
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m18.923s
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m19.493s
18 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m20.225s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m19.695s
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda –

4 thoughts to “Hamilton leads Silver Arrows front row in Spain”

  1. Spanish Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Less than two-tenths of a second split the top three qualifiers in Spain on Saturday, with Lewis Hamilton taking pole from Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in the sister Ferrari, followed by the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

    Kevin Magnussen took a superb sixth for Haas, ahead of local heroes Fernando Alonso in the McLaren and Carlos Sainz in the Renault. Romain Grosjean in the second Haas completed the top ten.

    All the frontrunners progressed from Q2 on the soft tyre, meaning they will start Sunday’s race on that more durable rubber, rather than the quicker supersoft compound. That second session was a bad one for Force India, who lost Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez in 13th and 15th respectively.

    Joining the pink cars in Q2 elimination were McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.

    Nico Hulkenberg was the big faller in Q1. The German narrowly missed the cut after he got just a single flying lap following an apparent gearbox issue on his Renault.

    Also eliminated were Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin, the latter carrying a three-place grid penalty thanks to his collision with Perez in Baku.

    Brendon Hartley did not take part after Toro Rosso could not fix his car in time following his heavy FP3 crash, and Lance Stroll was the final Q1 faller, the Canadian ending his day in the gravel after spinning at Turn 12 at the close of the session.

  2. After securing pole position, Lewis Hamilton admitted that this qualifying 1-2 result was a relief following recent “nerves”. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    The Mercedes Formula 1 team’s front-row lockout in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix has come at an opportune time to relieve recent “nerves” at the outfit, according to driver Lewis Hamilton.

    On the back of Hamilton’s dominant pole position in the Australia season opener, Mercedes was beaten by Ferrari for three consecutive qualifying shoot-outs, as the Scuderia emerged with what appeared to be the 2018 field’s quickest car.

    And the trend looked set to continue in Barcelona as the Silver Arrows trailed Ferrari through Q1 and Q2, only for Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to step up their pace, the pair lapping 0.040s apart in Q3 to secure the first Mercedes qualifying 1-2 of the campaign.

    “I think for the team, I think it has been a struggle,” Hamilton said after qualifying.

    “And I’m sure there have been a lot of people with nerves over the past few races, just not really understanding [what’s happening], constantly learning but feeling that we’re not learning quick enough.

    “So, to come here and get the one-two in qualifying, it is a true show of all the hard work everyone is doing.”

    Hamilton leads the championship after inheriting a fortuitous win in Baku, but admitted heading into the Spanish GP weekend that he felt he had been “punching below my weight”.

    Asked by Motorsport.com just how important the Barcelona pole was to him in light of his recent form, he said: “We’ve had one pole, we haven’t really had great qualifying sessions after that, so it was important for me to get back into a good position with qualifying, as it is usually a strength of mine.

    “So it was definitely important, and I am happy too especially because I had such a busy week coming into this weekend.

    “To have the performance I’ve had, I am very happy with that.”

    Hamilton suggested earlier in the weekend that Ferrari had been “sandbagging” in practice, and repeated the claim, albeit more jokingly, after his qualifying success – with Sebastian Vettel coming up just 0.132s short of pole on a late soft-tyre run.

    “It was a great close qualifying, obviously all weekend was close,” Hamilton said.”Ferrari was probably sandbagging just because they could, they’ve always had a very quick car.

    “But it took everything from us to get this result, and to get a 1-2 in qualifying is fantastic.”

  3. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen commented that mistakes prompted Q3 soft-tyre gamble. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Kimi Raikkonen says his mistake at the start of Q3 in Formula 1 qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix led to his gamble with soft tyres.

    The Ferrari driver lost time after a wobble at Turn 1 in his first Q3 run and then decided to switch from supersofts to softs for his second and final attempt.

    Raikkonen finished down in fourth, however, nearly half a second off pole and three tenths behind teammate Sebastian Vettel.

    The Finn said he gambled on the soft-tyre run as he felt he did not have much to lose.

    “Obviously after the mistake I wanted to try something else,” said Raikkonen. “I didn’t have much to lose so I thought I’d try. They felt pretty good in Q2.”

    Raikkonen conceded the supersoft tyres, which have given teams a headache this weekend, continued to pose a challenge for Ferrari.

    “We were struggling to make the tyres work, it was not the most straightforward qualifying. I’m a bit disappointed but it could have been worse,” he said.

    “Obviously they have been changed a bit, the tyres, for whatever reason. For sure they are not the same they were at the last races.

    “From winter it’s impossible to compare [here] but this race is slightly different. Does it make a difference? I don’t know. It is what it is.

    “It wasn’t bad but we needed more laps. It was tricky, but once they are working it seems to be OK.”

    Teammate Vettel also made a mistake in his first run and, like Raikkonen, ended up setting his best time with soft tyres in the second attempt.

    “In Q3 in the first run I locked up a little bit into Turn 1, so the first sector was already slow,” he explained. “I tried to get it back and recover but to really fight for pole I knew it was not enough.

    “I didn’t get a great feeling on that tyre, on that set. I asked to go back and I think it was the right call, we were very quick.”

  4. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso feels the gap to the top Formula 1 teams is still too big, despite his best qualifying of the season ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

    McLaren introduced what it had labelled its “real” 2018 car in Barcelona this weekend, with several upgrades that Alonso praised after Friday practice.

    On Saturday, the Spaniard made it into Q3 for the first time this year, qualifying eighth, albeit over 1.5 seconds off the pace of pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.

    Alonso admitted the result left him with mixed feelings, happy that McLaren has taken a step forward but aware that the gap to the front is still significant.

    “It was a good qualy, so I’m very happy, without a doubt,” said Alonso. “We had been P13 three times in a row and today we took that step forward we needed.

    “I’m happy with this step forward. Now we need another to get close to the top teams. At least the positive note is that everything we brought for the car works as expected. Now we need to bring more things as quickly as possible.”

    He added: “Probably the downside of this position is still the gap, with the top six, they are in another league. And we need to keep chasing and closing that gap race after race.”

    Alonso reiterated his view that the car he is racing this weekend should have been available for the start of the season in Australia.

    “This package is making me happy. In another way, this car, is supposed to be the Australian Grand Prix package,” he told Sky.

    “That delay, on the first improvement, and having it not at the first races, having it here, probably put us in a difficult position in the first races.

    “We saved them with a lot of points on Sundays with a little bit of luck and good races, but now we need to push the development and we need to bring new parts every single race.”

    Alonso is the only driver in the top 10 who will start with supersoft tyres, having set his fastest time in Q2 with them. His rivals all qualified with the softs.

    The red-walled softs have been regarded as the weakest tyres so far this weekend, but the McLaren driver it hopeful the expected rain will make today’s tyre selections irrelevant.

    “The mediums work well and the yellow ones too, maybe better than the reds, and I think tomorrow they will be everybody’s favourite,” he said.

    “I have to start with the reds because I did Q2 with the reds, but if it rains tomorrow we’ll all start with intermediates or wets and everything that happened today doesn’t count much.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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