Lewis Hamilton edged Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to pole for the Spanish Grand Prix. It was his fifth pole in Spain and 92nd of his career.
Hamilton led Bottas by just 0.059s after their first laps, but the Briton couldn’t improve in any sector on his final flyer and failed to improve. Bottas was similarly slow in his first sector but went purple in the second, threatening to snatch pole from his teammate, but he couldn’t find enough time at the final interval to overcome his slow first split and had to settle for P2 on the grid.
“Physically, it’s tough,” poleman Hamilton said. “It’s so fast — the fastest we’ve ever been around here.
“I couldn’t go quicker on my second lap. I thought I could, but it just wasn’t a great lap — but the first one was decent, I guess, which did the job.”
Of the 29 F1 races held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 21 have been won from pole with another five from second place, stacking the odds against Bottas closing the gap to the championship leader.
“I think the start will be the best opportunity for me,” said the Finn. “Again, on Friday my long runs were competitive, so I will have the pace, but the start will be the best chance.”
Max Verstappen qualified third and 0.708s off the pace, but the Red Bull Racing driver said he was more optimistic of causing trouble for Mercedes in race trim.
Friday practice suggested Red Bull Racing’s pace on particularly the medium tire is comparable to Mercedes in the summer Barcelona heat.
“I felt happy in the car,” he said. “I just hope I can apply a bit of pressure. I know it’s very hard to overtake around here, but we’re going to try everything we can to be close to them and make it a bit difficult.”
Racing Point teammates Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll qualified fourth and fifth, the Mexican pipping the Canadian by a tenth of a second.
The pink cars held a handy half-second advantage to the midfield, headed by Alex Albon in the second Red Bull Racing car. The Thai driver continues to struggle to extract similar pace to Verstappen over a single lap, this weekend split from his teammate by 0.7s.
McLaren teammates Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were split by just 0.04s on the fourth row on the grid for seventh and eighth.
Charles Leclerc was ninth for Ferrari and 1.5s adrift, outqualifying AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly by 0.049s.
Sebastian Vettel missed out on the top 10 by just 0.002s. the Ferrari will start 11th, knocked out of Q2 for the second race in a row and third time this season. The German was only 0.024s quicker than AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, who qualified 12th.
Daniel Ricciardo was the quickest Renault driver, qualifying 13th on a weekend the French manufacturer’s bigwigs are present at the track. The Australian outqualified teammate Esteban Ocon by two places and more than 0.3s, with Kimi Raikkonen slotting between the two in Alfa Romeo’s first Q2 appearance of the season.
Haas teammates Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean qualified 16th and 17th. It was a disappointing conversion for Grosjean in particular, who was fifth quickest in FP2 on Friday afternoon and is equipped with a new internal combustion unit.
Having escaped punishment for his incident with Ocon in morning practice, Magnussen is in for more post-session investigation for an incident with Kvyat.
Williams duo George Russell and Nicholas Latifi qualified 18th and 19th, while Antonio Giovinazzi will start at the back of the grid for Alfa Romeo.