SPANISH GP – Sir Lewis Hamilton takes hundredth pole by three-hundredths of a second beating Max Verstappen

Testing & Race Reports

Sir Lewis Hamilton has become the first driver to reach a hundred pole position beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by three-hundredths of a second to start Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix from pole. The Mercedes driver failed to improve on his final lap, as did his main rival Verstappen.

Qualifying proved to be a tight battle between all the teams and that made millimetres the difference as they fought for pole, as Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas failed to improve on his final lap.

None of the top three could improve, the seven-times champion slid wide on his final lap through Turn Fifteen losing time on the exit of the first corner.

Hamilton is now thirty-three pole positions behind the combined total of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, in a typical error free and fast lap. Hamilton and Verstappen’s battle the gripping one, throughout the hybrid era Mercedes and Red Bull have not been this close in qualifying.

The seven-time champion now sets his sights on equalling Schumacher’s seven wins in Barcelona which would put him three away from his hundredth win, having already past Schumacher’s record in Portimao last year. However, the top three drivers will start Sunday’s race on the soft tyre meaning it could become a two-stop race.

Verstappen couldn’t then string his fastest sectors together in a single lap and that left him behind, but ahead of Bottas by almost a tenth, despite appearing to have the pace to challenge for pole. The only driver who managed to improve on his final lap was Charles Leclerc, he set a personal best taking fourth with 17.5 eight tenths behind Hamilton.

The race once again set to be a between Hamilton and Verstappen, with the dutchman being a surprise in FP3 when he was fastest. This weekend set to be dominated by the figure one hundred, the Englishman may have his hundredth pole, but can Verstappen beat him in the race on his hundredth start for Red Bull?

Twenty-two of the thirty races in Barcelona has been won from pole, while Hamilton or Verstappen have won the last five races. Verstappen had one of the closest times to Mercedes in the hybrid era in qualifying around this circuit.

Hamilton said, “P3 was looking really good, we have been strong all weekend. I made some changes, I had a bit of anxiety about the changes we were going make. You always try to make them better but it’s a bit of a gamble. It was my call in the end.”

“I can’t believe we are at 100. It’s down to the men and women back at the factory who are just continuing to raise the bar and never giving up. It has been a dream to work these guys.”

Verstappen added, “Both laps were pretty decent, the second run was a little worse for whatever reason but second for us here on this track is very good today. We know they are hard to beat around here but to be that close I can be very happy with that.”

Leclerc was seven hundredths faster than the Alpine of Esteban Ocon and teammate Carlos Sainz being just over a tenth behind, however, the sizeable gap of four and a half tenths remains to Bottas.

Underlining the step forwards Ferrari has made compared to qualifying last August in Barcelona. Daniel Ricciardo bounced back from his surprise Q1 elimination in Portimao to go seventh.

Sergio Perez was eighth fastest splitting the two McLaren’s, but was nine-tenths behind his Red Bull teammate Verstappen. The Mexican made an error dipping his rear wheel into the gravel at EuroCar, which sent him spinning but was able to get out of the way of the traffic behind.

Lando Norris was ninth, putting his McLaren just under a tenth and a half ahead of Fernando Alonso. Alonso was over half a second slower than team-mate Ocon, with Sainz being the highest place Spaniard for their home Grand Prix.

Norris had been caught out on one of his fast laps in Q1, he was caught three cars at the final chicane, with two more going slowing out of the sequence, is being investigated now qualifying has finished.

Lance Stroll was eleventh, the Aston Martin driver being knocked out by Ricciardo, when the Australian improved to eighth fastest on his final run in Q2, moving up to eighth fastest. His teammate Sebastian Vettel going thirteenth just over a tenth behind.

Pierre Gasly showed great pace in Q1, but didn’t manage to replicate the same pace in the second part of qualifying going twelfth. The Alpha Tauri driver eight thousandths behind the Canadian and spilt the Aston Martin’s.

George Russell only did a single run in Q2, which left him fifteenth behind Antonio Giovinazzi. The Alfa Romeo driver doing his soft run at the end of Q2 moving ahead of the Williams by just over four-tenths of a second.

Traffic was the main issue in Q1, with the improvements still managing to push Yuki Tsunoda down the order then Russell’s improvement at the end of the session knocking the Alpha Tauri out of qualifying.

Kimi Raikkonen was eighteenth ahead of Mick Schumacher, who had his equal best-qualifying of the year in eighteenth. Nicolas Latifi splitting the two Haas’s, he made a mistake going heavily over the kerbs at the exit of Campsa mid-way through Q1, an incident that also smashed the Williams’s left-hand side wing mirror.

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