Bottas powers to the front to score a hat-trick of poles

Valtteri Bottas achieved a hat-trick of Formula 1 pole positions with a solid qualifying session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The championship leader had the edge on his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton throughout qualifying, ending up a massive 0.634 seconds quicker.

None of the top four were able to improve their lap times on their second runs on soft Pirelli compound in Q3, meaning Mercedes kept hold of the front-row lockout it had taken earlier in the final segment.

Sebastian Vettel was third and 0.866 seconds off the pace, less than a tenth quicker than fourth-best Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.

Charles Leclerc only had a single run in Q3 thanks to having to use two sets of soft Pirellis in Q2 after compromising his first run by running wide at Campsa – picking up some minor floor damage.

He put in two attempts on his one set of tyres, but ended up third and over two tenths slower than Verstappen – but ahead of the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly.

Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen made good on the promise the upgraded Haas showed in practice by taking seventh and eighth positions, with Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat ninth.

Daniel Ricciardo was slowest of those in Q3 with P10, although he must serve a three-place grid penalty for reversing into Kvyat in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Lando Norris was the best of those who didn’t reach Q3 in P11 after being bumped down a position by Leclerc’s late improvement in Q2.

Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon, like his teammate, only had one run on fresh softs in Q2 and ended up P12 after running wide at Turn 5.

Carlos Sainz made an error on what should have been his quickest lap and ended up P13 ahead of the lead Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.

Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16, 19 thousandths slower than teammate Ricciardo.

Hulkenberg crashed at the Turn 4 right hander on his first run before he set a time, but was able to recover to the pits despite damaging his front wing.

The Hulk returned to the track in the closing stages and briefly lifted himself out of the drop zone with his first flying lap on the second set of options – although his pace was hindered by having switched to an older-spec front wing.

But Raikkonen then improved to push him down to P16, with Hulkenberg finding two-tenths on his second flying lap but not quite enough to escape.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was eliminated for the fifth time in five 2019 races in P17, two tenths faster than P18 quickest Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo.

George Russell won the intra-Williams battle for P19 despite a spin at the chicane on his first run, outpacing Robert Kubica by 1.2 seconds after Kubica failed to improve on his second run.

So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas on scoring another pole position for Mercedes. It’s going to be a fascinating battle royale in the main event as Lewis Hamilton aims to be more ruthless to his teammate in achieving race victories. Bring on the race!

Spanish Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m15.406s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m16.040s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m16.272s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m16.357s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m16.588s
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 1m16.708s
7 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m16.911s
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m16.922s
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1m17.573s
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m17.338s
11 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda 1m17.445s
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m17.599s
13 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m18.106s
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m17.788s
15 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1m17.886s
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m18.404s
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m18.471s
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m18.664s
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1m20.254s
20 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1m19.072s

3 thoughts to “Bottas powers to the front to score a hat-trick of poles”

  1. Spanish Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Valtteri Bottas will start a Grand Prix from pole position for the third time in a row on Sunday after a stunning performance in Barcelona qualifying saw him beat Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton by over half a second, with Sebastian Vettel third for Ferrari.

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took fourth to split the scarlet cars, beating Charles Leclerc, who was carrying suspected floor damage on his SF90 after heavy contact with the kerbs in Q2. Verstappen’s team mate Pierre Gasly was sixth, ahead of the Haas duo of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat.

    It was another mixed session for Renault. Daniel Ricciardo – carrying a three-place grid penalty for his collision with Daniil Kvyat in Baku – rounded out the top 10, but team mate Nico Hulkenberg made a shock Q1 exit after limping back to the pits with a damaged car following an early off at Turn 4. His crew made swift repairs and got him back out, but it was too little too late for the German.

    Q1 – Hulkenberg falls out after early shunt, as Stroll misses Q2 for ninth straight race

    With just a few minutes of qualifying gone, Nico Hulkenberg got badly out of shape going through Turn 4. As he tried to correct a slide, his R.S.19 pushed through the gravel and nerfed the barriers, the soft impact still enough to take off the German’s front wing.

    As Hulkenberg made his way slowly back to the pits, he was forced to avoid the spinning Williams of George Russell, who was pushing hard despite the five-place grid penalty he received after his own Turn 4 off during Free Practice 3 forced a change of gearbox.

    Hulkenberg’s incident left him on the back foot and saw him fail to make it out of Q1 for the second time this year – despite finishing just 0.019s behind 15th placed team mate Daniel Ricciardo – while Russell recovered to end the segment in a pre-penalty P19.

    Out with that pair went the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, whose team mate Kimi Raikkonen made it through to Q2 in P13, the Racing Point of Lance Stroll – out in Q1 for the ninth consecutive weekend – and the second Williams of Robert Kubica, who was slowest of all.

    The first segment, meanwhile, saw Lando Norris finish an impressive P6, a mere 0.632s back from Valtteri Bottas’ Q1-leading time, with the Haas of Kevin Magnussen close at hand too.

    Knocked out:
    Giovinazzi Russell

    Q2 – McLaren fail to convert pace, as Ricciardo squeezes through

    As the teams began to turn their wicks up, first Lewis Hamilton then Valtteri Bottas established new track records for the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Bottas ending the segment P1 having posted a 1m 15.924s lap – over seven-tenths faster than Sebastian Vettel could manage in the leading Ferrari in P3.

    Having looked rapido all weekend, it was a disappointing Q2 for McLaren, with both Lando Norris and local hero Carlos Sainz failing to make it through to the final part of qualifying. Alexander Albon will have been similarly annoyed not to have joined Toro Rosso team mate Daniil Kvyat in Q3, with Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez – whose Alfa Romeo and Racing Point cars have looked unhappy so far this weekend – also not making the cut.

    And while it may have looked a slightly doubtful statement yesterday, Daniel Ricciardo made good on his belief that he could make it through the Q3, ending the second segment in 10th place in the sole remaining Renault, as the Haas of Romain Grosjean led the midfield challenge in P7.

    Knocked out:

    Q3 – Bottas takes ninth pole with new track record

    Valtteri Bottas has looked a man on a mission all through the Spanish Grand Prix weekend – and as the Finn stopped the clocks on a 1m 15. 406s on his first flying lap in Q3, an audible set of “Oooos” rippled through the press room, as a new track record was established.

    That first run left him 0.634s clear of team mate Lewis Hamilton as the second runs approached. Ultimately, neither driver would improve, with Bottas claiming his third pole position in a row – and by far the most dominant of his career.

    Sebastian Vettel was similarly unable to go faster than his own first effort in Q3, and he finished qualifying third on the grid, a full 0.866s away despite claiming that the car “doesn’t feel bad”.

    Max Verstappen did a fine job to split the Ferraris, finishing fourth ahead of Charles Leclerc – the top five incidentally the same as they finished in Baku – while Pierre Gasly was sixth in the second Red Bull.

    Haas converted their pace to sit in a midfield class of one, Grosjean ahead of Magnussen, while Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10, Kvyat’s time a full 0.662s back from Grosjean’s.

    So, Mercedes maintain their seven Grand Prix streak of poles at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, having put rivals Ferrari well and truly in the shade. But unlike for the last two years it’s a seemingly indomitable Valtteri Bottas, and not Lewis Hamilton, who’ll start the race P1. A fascinating battle awaits.

  2. Sebastian Vettel hopes that a “daring” approach Ferrari has taken with the set-up of its car at the Spanish Grand Prix can still rescue his hopes in the race.

    The German saw rival Mercedes grab another front row lock-out at Barcelona, as he was left trailing pole position man Valtteri Bottas by 0.866 seconds as he took third place on the grid.

    But although aware that Mercedes had the edge in single-lap pace, he has suggested that a different approach his team has taken with its newly updated car may yet pay dividends in the race.

    “We tried a lot of stuff yesterday and again today, different directions and we ended up getting the best out of the car today which wasn’t enough,” he explained.

    “We are certainly not satisfied but I am very happy with the approach, with the chance that we took in terms of trying something daring: something that ultimately it will pay off, maybe not today at least, but hopefully it will help us in terms of pace for tomorrow. And hopefully it sets us off in the right direction for the next couple of weeks.”

    Vettel said he was surprised at the scale of the Mercedes advantage, which he thinks has been exaggerated by the fact that his Ferrari is struggling in Barcelona’s tight final sector.

    “Coming here we did not expect [the Mercedes gap] , but I think also we seem lose quite a big amount of time in the last sector,” he said.

    “It is quite clear we seem to be faster down the straights, so probably we carry a little bit less wing than them. But in the last sector there are no straights and we are struggling a little bit to bring it together.

    “It is not a very long sector with quite some corners, and mostly lower speed, and that is where we seem to be losing the most time. There is definitely some homework, we know this track very well, everybody does, but with the conditions today we were just to able to match them.”

    While the showing in Barcelona is in stark contrast to the pace Ferrari had in winter testing, Vettel thinks that nothing dramatic has changed – and his team just needs to understand how to get more pace from its 2019 challenger.

    “We need to dig deep,” he said. “Now is not the first time we are losing out and not the second time nor the third time. It is a consistent trend that we seem to lose, in some places, independent of conditions, sunshine, clouds, tyres and compounds and so on.

    “There is a bit more for us to understand but if we had the solution surely it would be on the car already.”


  3. A low battery was the main factor in Lewis Hamilton’s “not good enough” qualifying performance. has the full details.

    An imperfectly charged battery hindered the start of Lewis Hamilton’s Spanish Grand Prix qualifying session, but he believes Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Valtteri Bottas was faster when it mattered.

    Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Hamilton’s battery could not be charged properly between the second and third parts of qualifying, which meant he was sent out earlier than planned.

    Wolff told Sky Sports F1 that put Hamilton “on the wrong foot” because he was at the head of the pack and therefore caught cars going slowly, preparing on their out-laps, when he was on his flying lap.

    Hamilton said that was a setback that contributed to a session that “ultimately just wasn’t a good enough job”.

    “Valtteri did a fantastic job, he has been quick all weekend,” said Hamilton. “On my side I jut didn’t put the laps together, so the last couple of laps, in Q3 particularly, weren’t strong.”

    He added: “They just weren’t very good laps. Valtteri was just quicker today, so he deserves the pole.”

    Hamilton was left trailing Bottas by 0.634s, but did manage to complete another Mercedes front-row lockout.

    Despite his issues, the five-time world champion ended the session two tenths clear of the lead Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.

    Bottas said his “big” gap to Hamilton was unexpected, and when asked by about the advantage over Ferrari both Mercedes drivers admitted it came as a surprise.

    “I have to say when I saw the times, definitely we expected Ferrari to be closer,” said Bottas. “Also everything based on winter testing, this seemed to be a track that really suits them.

    “But since practice yesterday we have been in good form. We’ve been doing a good job with the team in terms of the direction we are taking the car to, in terms of where to find the performance. We have done a really good job with that and we are all impressed.”

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