Valtteri Bottas has beaten his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by over half a second to take pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix. The Finn set his fastest time early on to secure his third pole of the season, as drivers struggled to improve on their final runs in Q3.
Bottas was in great form outpacing Hamilton by six tenths, the five times champion struggled to get performance on his last lap. The Englishman made a number of errors on his first lap and the speed never materialised, meaning any improvement was unlikely.
It was becoming clear that the track wasn’t improving early on in the second part of Q3. The only improvement coming from Leclerc and Daniil Kvyat, but not enough to gain position.
Two Mercedes are looking comfortable faster with Ferrari unable to mount a challenge to Mercedes, the team’s upgrades nit bringing them closer to fight for pole. Bottas was looking comfortably faster through the session beating Hamilton in all three sessions of qualifying.
Sebastian Vettel two tenths behind Hamilton, while faster than the Red Bull of Max Verstappen his teammate Charles Leclerc was a further two tenths behind the Dutchman.
Bottas said, “Really enjoyed that. Enjoyed the adrenaline rush you get from those laps. It has started well the season. I feel better and better in the car and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
Hamilton said, “Valtteri did a fantastic job. He has been quick all weekend. On my side, I just didn’t put the laps together. Ultimately, it just wasn’t a good enough job.”
Vettel said, “I just spoke to Valtteri. They were both very happy with the car. For us, a bit more tricky. I got everything out of the car on the first run, the second I had to try something a bit different and it didn’t work.
Pierre Gasly put his Red Bull sixth, the Frenchman still unable to beat Verstappen this season in qualifying.
Leclerc ending up three tenths off his teammate, but the Italian team has not been able to replicate the form it showed on the last visit to the Circuit de Catalunya, during winter testing ahead of the season. But the twenty-one year old appeared more annoyed after losing the second row to Verstappen.
He told BBC News “I’m not very happy. We were slower than the Mercedes today and that’s it.”
Haas continued their strong weekend, upgrades putting Romain Grosjean seventh a tenth ahead of teammate Kevin Magnussen. The team will be hoping the upgrades will help them manage tyre life better, as they have struggled to convert that into good points in races.
Daniel Ricciardo was tenth behind former teammate Daniil Kvyat. However, he will start thirteenth, after he reversed into the Russian during the race in Baku.
For the first time this season, both McLaren’s were knocked out in Q2 with Lando Norris eleventh and Carlos Sainz thirteenth. The Spaniard missing his braking point into Eurocar and going through the runoff, leaving him unable to improve.
Kimi Raikkonen could only manage fourteenth ahead of the Racing Point of Sergio Perez.
Nico Hulkenberg was the biggest casualty of Q1, the Renault missing out by a tenth. However, it wasn’t the perfect session for the German, he ran wide at Repsol, with his front wing becoming stuck under the car. Hulkenberg missing out by a tenth.
Also missing out for the ninth time in a row was Lance Stroll half a tenth behind the German.
Williams rounded off the bottom of the session, with George Russell out-qualifying teammate Robert Kubica. Russell will drop behind Kubica once he has served a grid penalty, incurred after his team was forced to change the gearbox in his car after a crash in final practice.
Although the team remains at the back, they have shown some progress they were closer, but still have a sizeable gap to close to the rest of the field.