Hamilton scores 92nd career pole in Spain

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his 92nd pole position in Formula 1 by beating his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

All the drivers in the top ten made it through to Q3 on the soft Pirelli compound, so there will be no risky strategy attempts at the start of Sunday’s race.

Hamilton led the way after the first runs in Q3 with a time of one minute, 15.584 seconds, which put him 0.059-seconds clear of his teammate, despite only setting the fastest time in the third sector.

Bottas ran ahead on the final runs and although he did manage to edge Hamilton in the first sector and establish a new best second sector, he faded in the final part of the lap and could not improve his position.

Hamilton also did not go faster on his final run, but pole position was already secure.

Verstappen edged Sergio Perez for third, as he too failed to improve on his final run, with Perez setting a personal best but still being unable to get ahead of the Red Bull.

Lance Stroll was sixth ahead of Alex Albon, with Carlos Sainz Jr leading Lando Norris who only made into Q3 by 0.002 seconds, in seventh and eighth for McLaren.

Charles Leclerc was the lead Ferrari but ended up down in ninth position, with Pierre Gasly making into in Q3 for the fourth time this season and then rounding out the top ten on the grid.

Gasly’s late improvement at the very end of Q2 knocked out Sebastian Vettel, and he will start P11 for the second race in a row – the third time this season he has not made it into the final part of qualifying.

It’s unfortunate that Vettel’s form in the Ferrari is so lacklustre. He is a classy driver who won four world championship in the past so it’s puzzling why Sebastian is struggling so much this season…

Daniil Kvyat, who will face a post-qualifying investigation for an incident with Kevin Magnussen at the second corner in Q1, took P12 ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

Kimi Raikkonen scored his best qualifying result so far in 2020 with P14, as Esteban Ocon finished as the slowest driver in Q2.

Ocon improved with his final run – all drivers that went for a second effort (which did not include the Mercedes pair and Verstappen) set personal bests apart from Sainz and Leclerc – but it was not enough.

In Q1, Raikkonen made it out of the first part of qualifying for the first time this season as the two Haas cars could not improve enough to stop the Alfa Romeo’s progress, despite him setting his final flying lap early in the pack of cars attempting a last blast in the first segment.

Kevin Magnussen managed to outqualify Romain Grosjean despite being behind in all three practice sessions – with Grosjean sixth and fifth in FP1 and FP2 respectively – but his final lap improvement left him P16 and out.

George Russell did not make it into Q2 for the first time since the season opener, but maintains his perfect 100% qualifying record over Nicholas Latifi and Williams.

Antonio Giovinazzi finished last in Q1, almost a second slower than his teammate with his best time, after earlier running heavily over the kerb at the exit of the final corner on his penultimate flying effort.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with this impressive qualifying result. 92 poles in Formula 1. Excellent performance. Going to be a fascinating race as overtaking is tricky at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Qualifying positions, Spanish Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.584
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:15.643
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 Alex Albon Red Bull Racing-Honda 1:17.029
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:17.044
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:17.084
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:17.087
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.136
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.168
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.192
13 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:17.198
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:17.386
15 Esteban Ocon Renaul 1:17.567
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:17.908
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:18.089
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:18.099
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:18.532
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:18.697

4 thoughts to “Hamilton scores 92nd career pole in Spain”

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

    It was a private battle for pole position between the two Mercedes drivers in Spanish Grand Prix qualifying, with championship leader Lewis Hamilton pipping team mate Valtteri Bottas by just 0.059s in extremely hot conditions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

    This was the second week in a row that the pole position margin has been 0.063s or lower, and Hamilton’s fourth pole in six races and 92nd of his career, as he also passed 150 front row starts.

    Mercedes have made Barcelona their own in the last decade, taking six front row lock-outs in the last seven years, and they showed no signs of loosening that grip as Hamilton and Bottas ended the one hour session seven tenths of a second quicker than anyone else.

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, winner of the last race at Silverstone, was their closest challenger in third, the Dutchman achieving the first top-three start in Spain of his F1 career.

    The returning Sergio Perez picked up where he left off before he tested positive for Covid 19 with a blistering turn of pace that put him fourth on the grid, equalling his career-best start and one place clear of Racing Point team mate Lance Stroll.

    The other Red Bull of Alexander Albon rounded out the top six, but he was 0.5s adrift of team mate Verstappen in what was the biggest deficit between team mates involved in the top 10 shoot-out.

    Carlos Sainz made an error on his first run, but recovered to snatch seventh in the closing seconds, usurping his McLaren team mate Lando Norris by a fraction for only the second time this year. It was also Sainz’s best start in Spain since 2015, when he started fifth for Toro Rosso.

    Charles Leclerc was the leading Ferrari in ninth, with team mate Sebastian Vettel failing to make Q3 for the second race in succession.

    Pierre Gasly outqualified AlphaTauri team mate Daniil Kvyat for the ninth race weekend in a row as he completed the top 10, with Kvyat two places further back in 12th.

    Q1 – Raikkonen finally escapes Q1 in 2020

    Hamilton wasted little time heading out on track to pump in a benchmark time, but his nearest rival was something of a surprise, with the returning Sergio Perez just a fraction behind in second.

    The Racing Point RP20 looked in tremendous shape around the sweeping turns of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with Lance Stroll confirming their pace with the third quickest time, beating the other Mercedes of Bottas.

    Elsewhere, there was finally something to smile about down at Alfa Romeo, as Kimi Raikkonen at last made it out of Q1 in 2020, scraping through in 15th. His team mate Antonio Giovinazzi wasn’t so lucky, the Italian ending up as the slowest qualifier for the first time in his career.

    The Haas pace Romain Grosjean demonstrated on Friday was no where to be seen on Saturday, with both Kevin Magnussen and his team mate getting the boot in 16th and 17th respectively, with George Russell bemoaning being sent out in traffic for his final run as he suffered his first Q1 elimination since round one in Austria.

    Knocked out: Magnussen, Grosjean, Russell, Latifi, Giovinazzi

    Q2 – Soft tyres the compound of choice as teams avoid medium gamble

    Mercedes started to stretch their legs a little in the second part of qualifying, with the soft tyre the compound of choice as teams avoided a gamble on the harder rubber.

    Hamilton and Bottas led the way with ease, this time flanked by Verstappen who appeared slightly happier with the second segment in qualifying.

    There were standout performances from Gasly, the Frenchman pumping in the fifth quickest time at the death, and Sainz, who has looked mighty since the team changed the engine ahead of final practice on Saturday.

    There wasn’t such good news for Sebastian Vettel, the German missing out on the top 10 by just 0.002s to Lando Norris (who has been in Q3 every race this year) in what was his third exit in this segment in six races. However, he will at least get free choice of tyres to start Sunday’s race.

    Kvyat was 12th quickest, the Russian outqualified by his team mate for the ninth consecutive race, with Renault looking off the boil as Daniel Ricciardo ended up a lowly 13th, his worst of the season, with Esteban Ocon – who crashed in FP3 – scoring the team’s worst qualifying performance of 2020 with 15th.

    Knocked out: Vettel, Kvyat, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Ocon

    Q3 – Hamilton gets the upper hand again

    Hamilton set the bar early on, but a gap of just 0.059s suggested pole could still go either way as the championship leader and his team mate Bottas prepared for their final runs.

    But second time around, with temperatures still sweltering, Bottas failed to improve while Hamilton’s effort was more than four tenths slower than his benchmark.

    Very few drivers improved on their second runs, and though Perez managed to, he stayed fourth overall.

    Sainz was one of the few to put in a faster lap which lifted him up to seventh despite suffering understeer in the final sector that cost him time while Albon found enough time to move up two places to sixth.

  2. The Mercedes drivers of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas can’t explain the failure to improve in second Q3 run. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas cannot explain their lack of improvement at the end of Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying, with polesitter Hamilton calling his final lap “really poor”.

    The Mercedes drivers locked out the front row for the fourth time in the 2020 season, with Max Verstappen continuing what he called his “subscription” to third place, in qualifying at Barcelona on Saturday.

    But all three – along with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll – did not go quicker on their final laps on the soft tyre in Q3 compared to the other six runners, despite Hamilton calling his 1m15.584s lap that ended up as the pole-winning time “solid” with places he “felt like I could improve”.

    When asked by Motorsport.com to explain why he did not go faster on his final lap, Hamilton said: “Not really sure.

    “This track, there is track ramp and then the track temperature can vary and the wind can vary. But yeah, the first lap felt OK, but a little bit, in some areas, within the limit.

    “So I knew that there was some areas that I could improve on. And then when I just went from the next run the tyres just didn’t feel the same and the grip wasn’t the same for me.

    “So it was just overall a really poor second lap. But I kept going, but it was nowhere near as good as the first one.”

    Bottas set the fastest time in the second sector on his final run, but he ended up behind his first time in Q3 after a slower end to the lap.

    “I don’t think conditions really changed – at least it felt like they didn’t really improve for the second run,” he said of his last effort.

    “I thought I was going to improve because when I crossed the line I was one tenth up from my previous time, but then obviously it went to zero, so maybe I just had a bit more distance – that’s how the time delta works.

    “I don’t know – I thought it was a bit better the second run, but it just wasn’t. I don’t think the track really changed.”

    Hamilton also explained that he “made some really good changes and progressed forwards” during the overnight analysis following Friday practice, which led to him topping FP3 and then taking his 92nd F1 pole and 150th front row start.

    “Each first lap [in every qualifying segment] was strong, which I was really happy with,” he said.

    “The one in Q3 was solid. I felt like I could improve, but I wasn’t able to do it on the second lap [and] fortunately neither could the strong dude next to me!

    “He’s keeping me honest, it’s obviously very close between us, so every millisecond counts.”

    But Hamilton feels “tomorrow is going to be tough when we get to the race” because of the pace 70th Anniversary GP winner Verstappen showed in the long runs in FP2, where the Red Bull driver appeared to be faster than the Mercedes cars.

    “The scenario is different,” Hamilton of the race.

    “Over a single lap we seem to have the edge over the Red Bulls but this weekend I think we’re pretty much on par when it comes to race pace.

    “And so it’s going to be a tough battle with Max tomorrow.”

    One of the keys to Verstappen’s victory last time out at Silverstone was starting on a tyre one step harder compared to the Mercedes cars – a strategy Red Bull also tried in qualifying for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix and in Hungary.

    But all 10 Q3 runners will start on the same soft tyres for the Spanish GP.

    “Basically [it’s] because I think the soft tyre is good enough to start the race on,” Verstappen explained when asked why he had not repeated the alternative Q2 tactic this time around by Motorsport.com

    “Normally the softest compound is a bit more tricky, as it falls apart quite quickly, but I think it’s alright at the track here.”

  3. This was another difficult qualifying session for Sebastian Vettel. The four-time world champion is going through a tricky time at the Scuderia this season. The Ferrari driver admitted that he “can’t put an answer” to struggles after Q2 exit. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Sebastian Vettel says there are still aspects of Ferrari’s 2020 Formula 1 car he “can’t really put an answer to” after a difficult qualifying session for the Spanish Grand Prix.

    Vettel slumped to his second consecutive Q2 exit at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Saturday, qualifying 11th as he missed out on advancing to the final session by just 0.002 seconds.

    Ferrari changed Vettel’s chassis ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend in a bid to ease his recent struggles, but the four-time world champion still encountered difficulties in his final Q2 effort.

    “The first sector was OK, but then in the middle sector the car started feel more and more nervous,” Vettel explained after qualifying.

    “I struggled in particular in Turn 7, losing the rear halfway, so it was difficult to judge how much speed to carry in. Also Turn 5 was very tricky for me this afternoon.

    “That’s the middle sector, and in the last sector, it got better towards the end, but still very tricky to find the right balance.

    “It was one of the better sessions this weekend, but still obviously not good enough.”

    Asked if the car had improved at all as a result of the chassis change, Vettel said it remained “up and down”.

    “There are some things I can’t really put an answer to,” Vettel said.

    “But I’m trying to do everything I can, and ignore all the things that might not be right, and do the best that I can. That’s all I can do at the moment.”

    Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc managed to make it through to Q3, but could only qualify ninth after also struggling with his car.

    Leclerc explained after the session that the SF1000 car was struggling with front-end grip mid-corner, making life difficult around the high-downforce layout in Barcelona.

    “I was just not happy with the car today,” Leclerc said.

    “This morning I was, the beginning of qualy was OK, but then it fell out, session after session in qualy.

    “It just didn’t have enough front end to rotate the car. We’ve lost quite a bit of time because of this, so now we need to understand why did this happen.

    “It’s something that we regularly have with this car, struggling with the front in mid-corner. Today, there were not really any solutions.”

  4. Sergio Perez set his sights on fighting Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for the final podium position at the Spanish Grand Prix after qualifying fourth upon his Formula 1 return.

    Perez was forced to miss the last two F1 races at Silverstone after contracting COVID-19, but returned to action this weekend in Barcelona after testing negative for the virus.

    The Mexican qualified an impressive fourth for Racing Point at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, finishing within two tenths of a second of 70th Anniversary Grand Prix winner Verstappen in third.

    While Perez was unsure Racing Point had the outright pace to beat Verstappen, he still felt he could fight the Red Bull driver for a podium spot given the difficult race conditions expected.

    “If we are able to get a good start and get ahead of Max, we may be able to hold him back,” Perez said.

    “Here is not an easy track to pass, and the amount of saving and management that we have to do tomorrow is going to be extreme.

    “We don’t quite have the pace to beat the Red Bull, and especially the Mercedes, but who knows? If we are able to get ahead in lap one, who knows.”

    All drivers have been struggling with tyre management so far this weekend due to high track temperatures reaching as much at 50ºC at times.

    It has left most anticipating a two-stop strategy in the race on Sunday, with all of the top 10 opting to qualifying on the soft compound tyre.

    Perez said it would be “very marginal” to make a one-stop strategy work in a bid to try and beat the Red Bull cars.

    “It really depends how your first laps go, what sort of temperature you have, and the wind,” Perez said. “The wind has a really big impact on the balance and the levels of sliding. It’s very open, everything for tomorrow.”

    Perez’s Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll will start one place further back in fifth, with the second Red Bull of Alexander Albon alongside him on the third row in sixth.

    Stroll felt there “wasn’t really much more in it” for Racing Point on Saturday, and was upbeat about its chances of fighting the Red Bulls in the race.

    “It looked like the Red Bull had the upper hand on us through qualifying. We’ve got to be happy with fifth,” Stroll said.

    “All in all, I’m happy with fifth, we’re in a good place to fight tomorrow. I expect Alex to have good pace. He demonstrated that last weekend at Silverstone.

    “We’ll just have to run our race, get a good start, and from there optimise the strategy. That’s all we can focus on.

    “It’s going to be a very hot race tomorrow. I expect it to be challenging for everyone out there.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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