F1: Hamilton nips Verstappen for 100th F1 pole

Lewis Hamilton turned a lap of 1m16.741s to win pole for the Spanish GP at Barcelona. It was Hamilton’s 100th F1 pole, extending his record.

Five constructors have reached the 100 pole marker -, but no driver ever has. Until now. How many more records can Hamilton break?

And the scary thing is, his win tally isn’t that far behind his poles record – cross the line first tomorrow, and he’ll be two away from a century of victories as well. With seven world titles, it is going to take every ounce of Verstappen’s skill this year to wrest that title back from his rival.

“I made some changes for qualifying, we’re always trying to make the car better, but it’s a bit of a gamble, to think about [set up for] the race as well,” said a happy Hamilton. “It was my call in the end, but that’s why I was behind all the way in qualifying. I was making small tweaks, the first lap wasn’t the best, but just wow. I can’t believe we’re at 100 [poles]. The men, and women at the factory, they are continuously raising the bar.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen came up 0.036s short in his Red Bull Honda, and had to settle for 2nd. Verstappen has his first front-row start in Spain.

“Both runs were decent, the second run was very gusty,” said Verstappen. “We are working very hard to beat them here, so second, I can be happy with that. I need to make sure to have a good start – the pace is there, so we should have a good race as well.”

Max Verstappen came up just short

Valtteri Bottas was 3rd in the 2nd Mercedes 0.132s back.  All the rest were out to lunch.

“I think the first runs in Q2 were faster runs. I lost a tenth or two in Turn 10 which was marginal for the pole. I think it’s going to be very close between us, and the Red Bulls,” said Bottas.

Charles Leclerc was 4th for Ferrari, but he was nearly 3/4 of a sec. off pole.

Esteban Ocon rounded out the top-5 for Alpine 0.839s behind Hamilton.

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A521.

Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies confirmed at the Spanish Grand Prix that the Scuderia’s focus is now very much on development for the 2022 sporting regulations.

“We are focused on 2022,” said Mekies. “Part of the field is tight, and we may need a few hundredths or a few tenths to switch from sixth to third, but it will not change our strategy.

“We’ve switched the large majority of our resources to it already. It doesn’t mean some details won’t change on the car from now onwards., but the focus is on next year. For us it’s a clear decision.”

Carlos Sainz Jr. 6th quick

Mekies added: “We are pretty much already in full switch.

“If you want to put a number to it, if you want to call it 90% or 95%, whatever you want to call it, it’s pretty much where we are.”

In Q2 less than 1-sec separated the top-13 drivers – it was very close, and a tenth difference determined whether you were in or out of Q3.


Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:16.741): “I was behind the whole way through qualifying, and making small tweaks to find pace. I just can’t believe we’re at 100 – it’s down to the women, and men back at the factory who are continuously raising the bar, and never giving up. It’s a dream to work with them, what a journey! Who would have thought when we started out together at the end of 2012 that we’d be celebrating 100 poles!? I feel so humbled, and very grateful for all their work. It feels just like my first! I’ll always remember that one.”

Valtteri Bottas (3rd, 1:16.873): “That was close! It felt like I was there in the battle for the pole, but I lost a tenth or so with a snap at Turn 10, and those are the fine margins this year. We’ve got a strong package, and we’ll be in the fight tomorrow no doubt – it will be another close one between us, and Red Bull. If you can keep the tires in good condition, you’re going to be more competitive around the pit stops. There’s the possibility to mix the strategy, and try a one or a two-stop. We’ll do lots of work tonight, and you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to know our strategy.”

Toto Wolff, Team Principal: “I’m not one for statistics, but 100 pole positions is a pretty impressive milestone! I told Lewis on the radio that it was quite an okay lap, but of course it was a little bit more than that. It looked like Max, and Red Bull had a big advantage in Q2, but we kept chipping away at it, and in the end, the top three drivers were covered by a tenth of a second; exactly how we want it to be in F1, battling for every thousandth of a second. Both Lewis, and Valtteri did a fantastic job in those final laps, and when it’s such tiny margins, every detail makes a difference. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we have the advantage of two cars on the clean side of the grid, and both drivers in the top three; that will provide us a strategic opportunity, and we need to make the most of it for the race.”

Andrew Shovlin: “Well done to Lewis on his 100th pole position – it’s a phenomenal achievement, and the whole team is proud of him, and proud to have played a part in him reaching this milestone. As expected, it was a real scrap for pole, and it was good to have both of our cars in the mix today. Having two cars at the front is very also useful from a strategic point of view for the race tomorrow. Tire choice for the race start was quite straightforward; the hard tire isn’t working well so everyone in the top 10 opted for the soft, and we’d expect most to only use soft, and medium tomorrow. The hot sunny conditions today made it quite difficult to get the tires to the final sector in good condition, it’s really easy to overheat here, and any little slide costs you with a build-up of temperature. Valtteri suffered with this in turn 10 where a snap ultimately dropped him out of the running for pole. The track seemed to peak before the end of the session so the order at the top didn’t change in the final run, and, as much as we’d have liked to have taken the front row, having both on the clean side of the grid is not too bad. The race will be interesting tomorrow; we’ll see in the first stint if we have the pace to break away, but there are a few options for strategy on the table. We’re expecting it to be a tough fight, but one that we are looking forward to.”

Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen (2nd, 1:16.777): “From my side it was a good qualifying. I’m pleased with my lap with no mistakes, and I feel like I extracted the most out of the car. It was very close, but it wasn’t quite enough, and sometimes you have to accept that. Mercedes seem to be a little bit ahead of us over one lap, but to be on the front row here, especially compared to last year where we really struggled, we can be very happy with that. We know that the start is very important here, and it can impact the race result, so of course we are focused on it, but we want to keep it clean as well as it’s a long race. We will of course give it our best tomorrow, and I think we have decent race pace, if it’s enough to beat them I don’t know, but we will push them all the way.”

Sergio Perez (8th, 1:17.701): “It was a tough qualifying out there, and just a bad day in general. I didn’t get a good lap throughout today, and I was not feeling 100% in qualifying with some shoulder pain so we did well to progress to Q3 which shows what a good car we have. In terms of pace, we have a very good race car so it’s a shame we are starting out of position as it’s a difficult place to overtake, but I’m confident we will be able to fight for a very strong result. Tomorrow is a new opportunity, hopefully we are able to minimize the damage, and take some steps forward. I’ll be aggressive as I need to come through the field, and catch up to the leaders as early as possible. In general, it’s not been the best weekend from my side, but looking at previous races this year, you can see things are coming together, and I’m just getting to know the car better which is the key.”

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: “It was another very exciting qualifying, and a fantastic performance by the Team. Our first front row start in Barcelona for 10 years, and Max was once again so close to pole. Being on the front row is very encouraging, and there are a lot of positives to take from today. Last year we were 0.7s off pole, and this year Max has completed an almost identical lap time to Lewis, so it’s great progress. Checo recovered after having a spin on his first lap in Q3, and will start in P8, but we know how strong he is in the race, and despite it being a difficult track to overtake on I’m confident he will make good progress. It will be important to get a good start, the margins are so tight between us, and Mercedes at the moment that the small things make a big difference, so the start, and that run down to the first corner is going to be important, and very exciting to watch.”

McLaren F1 Team

Daniel Ricciardo (7th, 1:17.622): “Overall, a positive day. We did really well to get through Q1 with one set of tires, which gave us two sets for Q3, but obviously, we missed it with the timing, and, unfortunately, we couldn’t use them. I do think there’s always a tenth on the table, and that could’ve been a P4 if we’d got a really good lap together., but, I don’t want to focus on that. Ultimately, I’m still looking at myself, and how I can improve, I’m not driving the car perfectly yet. Today was certainly better, but I’ll focus on myself, and I know the team will address their part for the Q3 timing. Today was a much better day, and we made a really good step from yesterday. So, I’m very happy, and thankful that we found some answers, and that the updates seem to be working.”

Lando Norris (9th, 1:18.010): “Not a perfect qualifying today. We were quite unlucky with some traffic in Q1 run one, so that put us on the back foot as we needed to use a second set of tires when we should’ve been safe. I picked up some damage after my first run in Q3, and the final run wasn’t clean either, which was quite important in the end with how much the track was evolving, and the wind was changing. I’m not too disappointed, but it is a bit frustrating to start from the position we’re in as it’s a very difficult race to come through, and overtake. We know we have a strong car on a Sunday, so we’ll do our best to get some good points.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “We had a competitive car today, but unfortunately didn’t get everything out of Q3. Lando’s car was damaged after his first run in Q3, which he had to do on used tires after losing one set of new tires due to the incident in Q1. On Daniel’s side, we didn’t complete the lap before the flag, as cars bunched up at the end of the out-lap, and he wasn’t able to get in his second attempt on new tires. As always, we will analyze, look into the details, and learn from it. The team here at the track, with support from home, and the drivers, did a really good job overnight to understand the upgrades we brought here for this weekend, and optimize the car. There was definitely more in it here for us today, but P7, and P9 with a competitive car will allow us to fight for good points tomorrow. Maximum focus now on getting back up the order in the race.”

Zak Brown:

Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team

Lance Stroll (11th, 1:17.974): “It is a shame to have missed out on Q3 by such a tiny margin – just a few thousandths of a second. The positive is that by starting in P11, we have the flexibility to choose our start tire, and that could be crucial because I think tire wear is going to be a very important factor in the race. It is not easy to overtake here, but if we can have a good start, and gain places on the long run into Turn One, we can give ourselves a good platform for points on Sunday.”

Sebastian Vettel (13th, 1:18.079): “My final lap in Q2 was not entirely clean, and, when the grid is so tight, those small things can make a real difference. I think we had a good chance of reaching Q3 today, but we just found ourselves at the wrong end of the midfield group. Because so many teams have similar pace, it will not be an easy race, but we will hang in there, push hard, and see what we can do. You never know what can happen in a long race, and, if we can look after the tires, and use our race pace, we can race for some points.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer:“Lance, and Sebastian both progressed smoothly through Q1, duly booking their places in Q2 as they did so. We were therefore slightly disappointed that we were not able to make it through to Q3 with either driver – we will analyze why that was now. Having said that, Lance will start the race from P11, and Seb from P13, which means that both of them will have a free choice of tires to start on, and both of them will have the advantage of a grid slot on the clean side of the track. They should both be in decent shape to race for points tomorrow.”

Alpine F1 Team

Esteban Ocon (5th, 1:17.580): “It feels very good today, and I’m happy with how we managed today’s qualifying session. I think this is the confirmation we were looking for, as we’ve repeated the speed we had in Portimao at this track, which is good. The car has been great this weekend, and I’m feeling very good at the wheel with the team around me. The factories are working hard to keep finding improvements, and their hard work is paying off. Tomorrow will be a hard race, and strategy will be interesting.”

Fernando Alonso (10th, 1:18.147): “It’s been a good weekend so far as we are in the top ten again, the second time this season. It shows the progress of our car so that’s good. In terms of the session today I think my out-lap in Q3 was a little messy, so there was more time for me to find. It’s very tight, and obviously very difficult to overtake in the race, but we’ll try to have a good first couple of laps, and see where we end up tomorrow as anything can happen in a race.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director: “It was a very good qualifying today with Esteban fifth, the best result of the year for us so far, and Fernando also inside the top 10. We’re happy to have both cars in Q3 for the first time this year. The drivers are working well with their engineers in setting up the car, and finding a good balance, and even finding some small, but important, improvements from FP3 to qualifying. It’s a credit to everyone in the team who has done a good job this weekend. We want to keep the momentum going, and capitalise on these good starting positions in tomorrow’s race.”

Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow

Charles Leclerc (4th, 1:17.510): “It was a good qualifying, and I’m very happy with the result. Looking at the gap between us, and the top three, P4 is a solid result today. My Q2 lap was very clean, and that’s good for the tires that I will use for the start. I am concentrating on this a lot because tomorrow it will be important to start on a tire with little degradation. As a team, we start from P4, and P6, which is positive. Our race pace has been competitive, and if we manage our tires in the same way as we did yesterday, it should look good. Our target is to bring home as many points as possible. Overall it has been a good weekend so far, and I hope that we finish it on a high.”

Carlos Sainz (6th, 1:17.620): “In general, today was a good qualifying session for the team, on a track where car balance, and car performance in cornering are important, and the SF21 is performing well. From my side I had a strong qualifying all the way through, and I felt I could push the car. I managed to go through Q1 with only one set, and a couple of strong laps in Q2 put us through to the top 10. After a decent first run in Q3, I was looking forward to improving my lap time in the last attempt, but due to small details I didn’t quite manage to nail it. Despite that, there are lots of positives to take from today, and we are in a good position to fight tomorrow in the race. Let’s go!”

Laurent Mekies, Sporting Director: “A good qualifying which confirms our third place in the pecking order, at least on Saturdays. Now the priority is to repeat that performance on Sunday, something we’ve only managed to do intermittently. It’s particularly significant therefore that our best team qualifying result from these first four rounds has come at this very challenging track. The gap to pole is half that of last year here, but it is still significant, and even if we could have gone a fraction quicker, it would not have changed anything substantially. Charles, and Carlos, the latter racing here in red in his home race for the first time, both did a good job behind the wheel, and in working with the team to get the most out of the SF21. Tomorrow, we can expect a very tough race, given the very small gaps between ourselves, and our closest rivals. If our strategy, reliability, teamwork, and the drivers’ performance are all at their best, then we can aspire to a good result.”

Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda

Pierre Gasly (12th, 1:17.982): “I’m obviously disappointed with the final result, that’s the first time we’ve not made it through to Q3 this year, and we missed it by just two hundredths, which is nothing. That being said, I’m happy with the car balance this weekend, but we’ve really struggled with grip, we just seem to slide around, then overheat the tires, and on this track you really pay the price for that. I think we were slightly more competitive at the start of the year, so we need to go away, and understand how we can regain that lead again in the midfield battle. Nevertheless, tomorrow is where we score points, and we’ll be starting in P12 with a free tire choice, which will hopefully give us a slight advantage in the race.”

Yuki Tsunoda (16th, 1:18.556): “It’s frustrating for me, the performance in the car is definitely there, and I think we should easily be making it through to Q2, but I just couldn’t find the grip today. Pierre, and I have very different feedback about the car, even when we have the same set-up, so I need to understand whether this is due to the characteristics of it or our different driving styles, and then I can look closer at the data with my engineers. I think if I find this reason then I can really start to harness the full potential of the car.”

Claudio Balestri, Chief Engineer, Vehicle Performance: “Today’s sessions have highlighted just how tight the midfield is this year, and how a small difference in lap time can make such a big difference to a driver’s final position. In FP3 both drivers showed good lap times, and we found that the changes to the car set-up that we’d made overnight were positive. To be fast on this track you need to find a good compromise between the sectors, so this was our main focus before Qualifying. In Q1 Pierre completed just one lap on the option tire, and easily made it through to Q2. On the other side of the garage, Yuki was struggling a bit more with his car, and he wasn’t able to enter Q2, missing out by just one hundredth. We had a similar situation in Q2 with Pierre, who narrowly missed reaching Q3 by a few hundredths. Our focus now turns to tomorrow’s race – we believe our long-run pace on Friday appeared competitive, so we hope that we can finish the race in the points.”

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN

Antonio Giovinazzi (14th, 1:18.356): “It was a good session, and I think we got the maximum we could out of the car. My Q2 lap was good, maybe I could have improved a little more, but Q3 was still a bit too far. However, we keep improving, and to be in Q2 again is good for the team. I am happy with my performance, we’re still not where we would like to be – in the top ten –, but we are making progress. Let’s see how our race pace is tomorrow: the first lap will be important, as overtaking can be difficult here, but we’re ready to make the most of every opportunity.”

Kimi Raikkonen (17th, 1:18.917): “It was disappointing to go out in Q1, especially after looking good in the morning. The car still felt good, and the lap was not bad, but I lost it in the final sector. I got a bit too close to the car in front at the end of the lap, and that was it – it’s so close out there, if you don’t get it right you pay the price. We’ll see what we can do to get back in the fight tomorrow. It’s not an easy place to overtake, but we will give everything.”

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: “Today was a demonstration of how close, and competitive the field is: the margins were unbelievably small, P1, and P17 are separated by one second, and P2, and P16 by little more than half a second in the first part of qualifying. In this scenario, anything short of a perfect lap will cost you, and that is what happened today with Kimi. Fortunately, Antonio managed to make it to Q2, and qualify in front of Russell: starting in 14th, he has a good chance of being in the fight for the points from the start of the race. As always, you never know what’s going to happen on Sunday, but so long as we’re in a good position we can take advantage of how the situation unfolds.”

Haas F1 Team

Mick Schumacher (18th, 1:19.117): “We’re really happy, it’s been one of our best Saturdays, and qualifying sessions. We managed to put the car where we wanted to, we made a big change overnight from Friday to Saturday. It was definitely the right one to do. I feel that the team, and I have taken all the right steps to bring the car to where we are now. The predictions said we’d be behind Williams, and here we are in front of one. We have to aim a bit higher though, and try, and get close to Q2, I think we’re on the right path to try, and do that. I think it’s going to be tough in the race though. We’re probably looking at a bit of rear degradation in the race – I think everybody is. I guess we’ll have to wait, and see.”

Nikita Mazepin (20th, 1:19.807): “The target temperatures were there for both my first, and last run on the softs, the second one was a bit difficult., but when the time was there the temperatures really came towards us. It’s our second, clean qualifying, so I’m pretty satisfied about it. On the other side of the coin, I’m not happy with the balance yet. I feel like the car is not really doing what I want it to do at the moment. It’s quite difficult to drive it – it’s a big task to keep it on the circuit while trying to maintain the best lap time possible. Loads for me to find, but a clean qualifying is a good step forward as well.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: “From where we were yesterday, after FP1, and FP2, I think the whole team – the engineers, the crew, the drivers, they all did a good job. We’ve ended up in front of a Williams, and that’s what we’re fighting for at the moment. We didn’t get it done in Portugal, but we got it done here with one car with Mick (Schumacher). Nikita (Mazepin) made good progress today as well, as yesterday he obviously didn’t have his best day. We just need to keep on bettering ourselves, and climb forward – it’s an on-going learning curve. Everybody is putting a lot of effort into it.”

Williams Racing

George Russell (15th, 1:19.154): “I think getting into Q2 today was the maximum. We knew the car has never really worked perfectly around this circuit, relative to our performance elsewhere. We struggled a bit in FP2, but the conditions calmed down today. The car was in a much better window, and we managed to out qualify cars like Tsunoda, and Räikkönen, so overall, we really maximized today. It will be an interesting race with the warm conditions, and there is a bit of rain in the area tomorrow. I don’t know if it will come before or after the race, but fingers it arrives, and spices things up a little.”

Nicholas Latifi (19th, 1:19.219): “It’s been a difficult weekend for us so far. I did collect some damage going wide on my second run, and that didn’t help for the rest of my flying laps. There was a bit of traffic too, with everyone bunching up ahead of their lap, but it’s the same for everyone. In terms of the race, it can be difficult around here when the tires aren’t new, so I think that will be the challenge tomorrow.”

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: “The changes made overnight improved the car in FP3 with both drivers happier than in FP2. George in particular was happy with his changes to set-up, and overall, we made good progress from yesterday. Qualifying was difficult, with the usual fighting for track space at the end of outlaps. We were expecting Q1 to be tight, and so opted to use three sets of new tires on each car. George did well to qualify for Q2, but he had no new tires left to use in that session. His single run on scrubbed tires was good in the circumstances, and he was able to put some pressure on Giovinazzi to complete a good lap in his final run. Unfortunately, Nicholas’s car suffered some damage at the high-speed T9, and this hurt his performance in the final stages of Q1. We will repair his car ahead of the race. As we saw last week, qualifying is only a small part of the weekend, and so we now turn our attention to the race, and will look to move forwards tomorrow.”

Qualifying Results

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.245 1:17.166 1:16.741 19
2 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 1:18.090 1:16.922 1:16.777 14
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:18.005 1:17.142 1:16.873 16
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.041 1:17.717 1:17.510 18
5 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1:18.281 1:17.743 1:17.580 15
6 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:18.205 1:17.656 1:17.620 15
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes 1:18.264 1:17.719 1:17.622 14
8 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda 1:18.203 1:17.669 1:17.701 17
9 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 1:17.821 1:17.696 1:18.010 17
10 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 1:18.281 1:17.966 1:18.147 17
11 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 1:18.241 1:17.974 12
12 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda 1:18.190 1:17.982 9
13 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes 1:18.289 1:18.079 12
14 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:18.549 1:18.356 12
15 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 1:18.445 1:19.154 11
16 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda 1:18.556 6
17 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:18.917 6
18 47 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari 1:19.117 9
19 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 1:19.219 9
20 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari 1:19.807 9