Grand Prix of Spain – Qualifying


Fortunately the only post-race penalty came before the podium ceremony at the GP of Portugal, with VER losing his fastest lap time for exceeding track limits. So that means HAM is 8 points ahead of VER, with NOR 32pts behind the world champion, and BOT a further 5pts back; Mercedes are only 18pts ahead of Red Bull, who in turn have a 50pt lead over McLaren.

It’s less than a week since they were in Portimao so there’s not much news:

  • As Toto Wolff promised Romain Grosjean after his accident at the end of last season, GRO will drive HAM’s 2019 car at a test day before the French Grand Prix [formula1]
  • Red Bull have been recruiting engine personnel from Mercedes; technically they’ll work for Red Bull Powertrains, the new engine division [formula1]

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: BOT (1:18.504), VER, HAM, NOR, LEC, SAI, GAS, VET, PER, STR
    Just 2mins into FP1, MAZ does as expected and spins the Haas
    ALO sets the fastest time of the session on soft tyres… and then HAM goes faster on hard tyres
    KUB is beached in the gravel at Turn 10 (He’s in RAI’s Alfa Romeo for this session)
    Red flags so the marshals can remove KUB’s car

  2. FP2: HAM (1:18.170), BOT, LEC, OCO, ALO, GAS, TSU, SAI, VER, PER
    SAI ran wide into Turn Nine; debris came off his Ferrari; VSC deployed so marshals can clean up
    Radio from TSU, “Erm….the car has switched off”!
    Mercedes tweet “All of @Circuitcat_eng’s high-speed turns are right-handers, and most of the low-speed turns are left-handers… That means the set-up on the left and right of the car are slightly different!”

  3. FP3: VER (1:17.835), HAM, LEC, SAI, BOT, NOR, GAS, RIC, RAI, PER
    30mins: pretty uneventful session
    Radio for TSU, “Good braking into Turn 10, with DRS”; “You always say that too late. Literally I’m in the entry…”; “Yuki, calm down. It’s fine.”
    RAI takes a chunk out of his rear right tyre; he’s limping back to the pits
    NOR off into the gravel in T10; he keeps the McLaren rolling and finally returns to the track
    Radio for VER advising him to go easy on his tyres on the right-hand turns
    Radio from GAS asking why he has “so much understeer in Turn 4?”; “It’s where we use all the lock”

Air temperature 25°C; track 45°C; humidity 47%
Looks like Red Bull have changed PER’s rear wing after FP3

10min delay to the start of FP1 while a tyre wall is repaired following an accident in one of the support races

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Q1 gets underway
LAT 1:20.241
RUS pits without setting a time
PER 1:18.609
HAM 1:18.245
VER 1:18.090
BOT 1:18.005
(SAI P3)
The Mercedes pair are on mediums; everyone else on soft compound tyres
Traffic ruins NOR’s quick lap
(GAS P3)
Stewards have noted the chaos at the end of NOR’s lap with a gaggle of cars queueing, waiting to start their quick lap
Radio from LAT reporting his left mirror is cracked (insert back luck joke)
4mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are RAI, STR, SCH, LAT, MAZ
Race control: that traffic issue will be investigated after the session
TSU dives inside LEC to get track position
(LEC P2)
LAT P18
SCH P18
Chequered flag
STR P7, GIO P16
GIO P11, VET P16
VET P121, NOR P16
NOR 1:17.821, RUS P16
RUS P14, TSU P16
Back of the grid: TSU, RAI, SCH, LAT, MAZ

Qualifying session 2
HAM 1:17.632
BOT 1:17.400
VER 1:16.922
(NOR P4)
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are OCO, PER, VET, GIO, RUS
Everyone except VER on track
OCO P7, RIC P11
PER P5, GAS P11
Chequered flag
RIC P8, STR P11
(HAM P2)
GIO P14
(BOT P2)
Middle of the grid: STR, GAS, VET, GIO, RUS

Sky commentators have been told HAM was on used tyres for that last lap – why would he want to start the race on used tyres?
Meanwhile, VER will start on nearly-new softs (only used for the out, quick and in-laps on Q2)
Looks like HAM’s tyres have only done one lap more than VER’s

Top 10 shootout is between VER, BOT, HAM, SAI, PER, NOR, LEC, RIC, OCO and ALO

Qualifying session 3
Another chance for HAM to get his 100th pole; BOT denied him last week
NOR 1:18.010
LEC 1:17.708
SAI 1:17.620
(RIC P2)
PER has spun in T13
OCO 1:17.580
(ALO P6)
HAM 1:16.741
(VER P2)
(BOT P3)
Order after first run: HAM, VER, BOT, OCO, SAI, RIC, LEC, NOR, ALO, PER
New tyres go on, and everyone heads out for a final run
Chequered flag
RIC P6
NOR P8
HAM –
BOT P3
VER P2
PER P7
LEC P4
OCO P5
ALO P10
Front of the grid: HAM, VER, BOT, LEC, OCO, SAI, RIC, PER, NOR, ALO

That’s 100 F1 poles for HAM; his first was Canada, 2007
Only 5 constructors have recorded 100 poles, and HAM is the only driver to do it
(As a comparison, 2nd most poles is Michael Schumacher on 68, followed by Senna on 65)

HAM takes a moment after he parks behind the #1 board
BOT and VER congratulate HAM

Interviews
HAM: “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. 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.”
VER: “Both runs were decent, the second run was very gusty. 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.”
BOT: “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”

Provisional grid: HAM, VER, BOT, LEC, OCO, SAI, RIC, PER, NOR, ALO, STR, GAS, VET, GIO, RUS, TSU, RAI, SCH, LAT, MAZ

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up]