Spanish GP qualifying: Bottas storms to third straight F1 pole
Valtteri Bottas completed a hat-trick of Formula 1 pole positions in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Bottas had the edge on Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton throughout qualifying, ending up a massive 0.634 seconds quicker.
None of the top four were able to improve their times on their second runs on soft Pirellis in Q3, ensuring Mercedes kept hold of the front-row lockout it had taken earlier in the final segment of qualifying.
Sebastian Vettel was third and 0.866s off the pace, less than a tenth quicker than fourth-best Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.
Charles Leclerc only had one 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 – also picking up some minor floor damage.
He put in two attempts on his one set of tyres, but ended up fifth and over two tenths slower than Verstappen – though he stayed 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 place, with Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat ninth.
Daniel Ricciardo was slowest of those in Q3 in 10th, and anyway must serve a three-place grid penalty for reversing into Kvyat in the Azerbaijan GP two weeks ago.
Lando Norris was the best of those who didn’t reach Q3 in 11th place after being bumped down a position by Leclerc’s late improvement in Q2.
Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon, like his team-mate, only had one run on fresh softs in Q2 and ended up 12th after running wide at Turn 5.
Carlos Sainz Jr made an error on what should have been his quickest lap and was 13th 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 16th place, 19 thousandths slower than team-mate 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 crunching his front wing.
He returned to the track in the closing stages and briefly lifted himself out of the dropzone 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 16th, with Hulkenberg finding two tenths on his second flier but not quite enough to escape.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was eliminated for the fifth time in five 2019 races in 17th place, two tenths faster than 18th quickest Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo.
George Russell won the intra-Williams battle for 19th place despite a spin out of the corner before the chicane on his first run, outpacing Robert Kubica by 1.2s after the Pole failed to improve on his second run.
But Russell will drop back to last when his five-place grid penalty for having a gearbox change due to his practice crash is applied.
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||1m16.357s||0.951s|
|6||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull/Honda||1m16.708s||1.302s|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m17.573s||2.167s|
|11||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m17.445s||–|
|12||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||1m17.599s||–|
|14||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m17.788s||–|
|15||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m17.886s||–|
|17||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m18.471s||–|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m18.664s||–|
Spanish Grand Prix F1 practice report: Hamilton top, Bottas spins
Lewis Hamilton dominated final practice for the Spanish Grand Prix as a late off for George Russell prevented any final improvements ahead of Formula 1 qualifying.
Mercedes driver Hamilton enjoyed a commanding advantage over the chasing Ferraris in the session, which ended under red flags when Russell lost the rear of his Williams at the long Turn 4 right-hander and ended up in the wall backwards after travelling through the gravel.
That stopped three drivers – Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly, Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Lando Norris – completing a final new-tyre run and some from improving on a second flying lap on softs.
But it did nothing to impact the gap Hamilton had over the next-best driver, Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton’s eventual best was a 1m16.568s, more than half a second clear of the two Ferraris.
Leclerc pipped Sebastian Vettel by 0.073s, a tiny margin that was still big enough for Valtteri Bottas to slot into and steal third from Vettel.
Bottas’s session started badly when he caused a seven-minute red flag by spinning on his out-lap at the downhill Turn 5 left-hander and beaching his car in the gravel.
After the Mercedes was recovered Bottas did join the action with just under 20 minutes to go but the Friday pacesetter ended up 0.555s slower than team-mate Hamilton.
Vettel, demoted to fourth by Bottas’s improvement, had his own spin when he lost the rear mid-corner at the chicane early in the session.
He ended up only a fraction faster than the leading Haas of Romain Grosjean as the American team challenged the established frontrunners in final practice.
Grosjean believes Haas can "play" with Red Bull in Spain and his time in third practice, 0.624s off the pace and within a tenth of both Ferraris and Bottas, backed this stance up.
Kevin Magnussen also got ahead of the two Red Bulls in the second Haas, lapping sixth-fastest and 0.962s off the pace.
Max Verstappen was Red Bull’s leading man, partly thanks to Gasly being denied a final run.
Verstappen was fractionally slower than Magnussen, 0.990s behind Hamilton, but encountered traffic in the final sector of his first lap on new tyres at the end of the session.
Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon finished the session eighth, while Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo and the McLaren of Carlos Sainz Jr completed the top 10.
Practice three times
|7||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||1m17.558s||0.990s||12|
|8||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m17.864s||1.296s||16|
|9||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m17.969s||1.401s||17|
|10||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||1m18.003s||1.435s||17|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m18.105s||1.537s||17|
|13||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m18.656s||2.088s||12|
|14||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull/Honda||1m18.693s||2.125s||12|
|15||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m18.734s||2.166s||16|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m18.740s||2.172s||14|