Spanish Grand Prix – Qualifying


The heat caused drama with tyres in the British Grand Prix and again last week in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, and the forecast for this weekend is even hotter. (Current points standings.)

News:

  • PER has reclaimed his Racing Point seat from HUL after a negative COVID test
  • Renault’s protest against Racing Point’s penalty for copying Mercedes’ brake duct continues – it’ll probably be a month or two before this is resolved
  • “Toto Wolff says he is considering whether to continue as Mercedes team principal after this season.” [BBC]

    “Many factors make me want to stay but it takes its toll,” Wolff said. “There is no reason not to continue. We will find out in which role.”
    Lewis Hamilton has said he wants clarity on Wolff’s future before he commits to Mercedes beyond this year

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: BOT (1:16.785), HAM, VER, LEC, VET, GRO, PER, ALB, MAG, STR
    VET has a new chassis, in the hope of solving his problems – he ended up P4 so maybe it worked
  2. FP2: HAM (1:16.883), BOT, VER, RIC, GRO, LEC, SAI, PER, OCO, GAS
    BOT had a trip across the gravel but recovered
    OCO complained of rear instability in his Renault
    RUS described his Williams run as “driving on ice”
    GRO lost power in his Haas
    VET’s new chassis didn’t help him do better than P12
  3. FP3: HAM (1:17.222), BOT, VER, SAI, PER, LEC, GAS, STR, ALB, RIC
    Mercedes told HAM and BOT to drive in the shade of the pit straight grandstands to cool their soft tyres
    The good thing about the tyre degradation is they’re putting down lot of rubber so there should be plenty of grip in the race 🙂
    MAG was on a cool-down lap when OCO caught him; OCO looked one side but MAG moved to the middle of the track; OCO suddenly moved right, spinning his Renault into the concrete wall, destroying his front wing and damaging the rear [FIA video]
    MAG and OCO have been summoned by the stewards after the session

Stewards have decided “no further action” for the MAG/OCO incident

Qualifying
Unfortunately Sky have Nico Rosberg as a commentator, so he’s busy trying to make himself sound better than anyone else – please bring back Damon Hill!
The piece with NOR and SAI was brilliant – they’re both terrible passengers 🙂

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Renault mechanics are still working on OCO’s car after his incident in FP3
LAT is first to leave the pit lane
Track temperature 49°C
LAT 1:19.231 on softs
RUS 0.3sec slower than his rookie teammate
BOT and HAM leave the pits together; both on softs, as is VER
Out laps are really slow as the drivers are careful not to stress their tyres
VER 1:17.415
BOT 1:17.413
HAM 1:17.037
(STR P2)
(PER P2)
Radio from VER – “feels a bit weird” – that’s a helpful diagnostic, I’m sure
OCO on track – his mechanics did a good job to fix his car without losing any track time
Race control: incident involving MAG and KVY at Turn 6 noted
Radio from ALB complaining of understeer
GIO runs over a big kerb; asks his engineers to check the floor
Incident involving MAG and KVY will be investigated after the session
3mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are GRO, RAI, MAG, LAT, GIO
Most of the field heading out for a final run – traffic will be bad so will they all make it?
Only PER and STR remain in the garages
Chequered flag – everyone made it time to have a final lap
(BOT P3)
RAI P14, RUS P16
HAM 1:16.872 – did he really need to use that set of tyres?
GRO P16
MAG P16
Radio for MAG asking (a very question) “in [turns] 1 and 2, were you held up?”; “big time!”
Back of the grid: MAG, GRO, RUS, LAT, GIO

Qualifying session 2
So which tyre compounds will the front-runners use?
Mercedes show their hand early – BOT and HAM both on softs
BOT 1:16.152
HAM 1:16.013
Everyone except RAI now heading to the track – he goes out a big later so he should have less traffic
Radio from LEC, “Horrible lap – really horrible”
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are: VET, OCO, GAS, KVY, RAI
Unless they put mediums on and go faster, the top 10 will start the race on those soft tyres
3m15s left and a rush of 8 cars leaving their garage at the same time
Only HAM, BOT, VER remain in the pits
Bit of jostling for position as they creep around on their out lap
Chequered flag
KVY P10, relegates RIC
VET P10, KVY to P11
GAS P5, pushing VET back to P11
RAI P14
Middle of the grid: VET, KVY, RIC, RAI, OCO
Top 10 shootout is between HAM, BOT, VER, STR, GAS, SAI, PER, LEC, ALB and NOR

Qualifying session 3
STR and PER sitting at the pit exit line, waiting for the green light
ALB released right into the path of HAM – the Mercedes has to take avoiding action
Everyone on softs
STR 1:16.589
PER 1:16.568
SAI P3
BOT 1:15.643
ALB P5
HAM 1:15.584 – 0.06sec faster than BOT
VER P3
GAS P9
NOR P6
After the first run: HAM, BOT, VER, PER, STR, NOR, LEC, ALB, SAI, GAS
Radio from STR, “I could do with an ice cream in here” 🙂
The Mercedes pair leave their garages – HAM slows to let BOT go first, which might give HAM a tow
Radio from LEC reporting “weird behaviour of the engine out of the box”
Chequered flag; everyone is on their final flying lap
ALB P6
BOT P2 – improves but not quite enough
PER P4
SAI P7
Front of the grid: HAM, BOT, VER, PER, STR, ALB, SAI, NOR, LEC, GAS

HAM’s 92nd career pole, 150th front-row start

Interviews:
HAM: “Physically it’s so tough, it’s so fast around here – the tyres are what we are really struggling with”
BOT: “All day today I’ve been struggling in sector 3; of course it’s annoying but I’ll try to get to (Turn 1) first”
VER: “We can be a bit closer in the race. I felt happy in the car – it’s hard to overtake around here but we’re going to do everything we can to be close and make it difficult”

Provisional grid: HAM, BOT, VER, PER, STR, ALB, SAI, NOR, LEC, GAS, VET, KVY*, RIC, RAI, OCO, MAG*, GRO, RUS, LAT, GIO
*Incident involving MAG and KVY will be investigated after Quali.