Qualy: Lewis Hamilton books 150th front row start with pole

Lewis Hamilton booked his 150th front row Formula 1 start with a fifth Spanish GP pole position while Sebastian Vettel’s new chassis couldn’t get him out of Q2.

50’C track temperature, a blustering tailwind into Turn 4 and 13 that picked up prior to qualifying and soft tyres that required management. Those were just some of the challenges that awaited the drivers in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

With the tyres expected to cause havoc with the traffic, the heavy hitters were quickly into the Q1 action with Lewis Hamilton setting the pace ahead of the two Racing Point drivers, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen.

Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat found themselves under investigation for a Turn 2 incident noted by the stewards while Antonio Giovinazzi asked Alfa Romeo to check his “floor” following a wild ride over the kerbs.

With the top 15 separated by a second 18 of the 20 cars, the Racing Points excluded, headed out for the final three minutes of Q1.

Welcome to the fastest racing cars on earth pic.twitter.com/ENOLNVcZDy

— Ky (@FiftyBucksss) August 15, 2020

Hamilton upped his pace to a 1:16.8 with Perez staying second ahead of Verstappen.

Out went: Magnussen, Romain Grosjean, George Russell, Nicholas Latifi and Giovinazzi. For the first time this season Kimi Raikkonen made it through to Q2.

Mercedes were first on the board in Q2, a 1:16.0 for Hamilton putting him a tenth up on Bottas with Verstappen half a second down. Perez briefly looked to be on course to beat the Mercedes drivers only to have a huge moment that cost him time.

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Charles Leclerc went P5 with a “horrible lap, really horrible” but it was worse for Sebastian Vettel who was down in 11th and in the drop zone with five minutes to go.

Everyone except the two Mercs and Verstappen headed out again, the entire Q2 field opting for soft tyres, and creating traffic galore as one by one they backed off to make space.

Out went: Vettel, Kvyat, Daniel Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Esteban Ocon. Vettel missed out by 0.002s.

Seb having a look at the times from the garage…#SpanishGP ?? #Vettel #SV5 pic.twitter.com/DkjycjYZc5

— Sebastian Vettel #5 (@sebvettelnews) August 15, 2020

Q3 was all about Hamilton versus Bottas, which of the two Mercedes drivers would take the coveted pole position.

The six-time World Champion laid down a 1:15.584 to sit on provisional pole by 0.059s while Verstappen held off Perez and Stroll for third.

Tip-toeing out of the pits to save their tyres for a final hot lap, Hamilton wasn’t able to improve his time but neither could Bottas. They still, however, held on for a front row lock out in what could be the final weekend that Mercedes gets to use its qualy party mode.

Verstappen was third, his first top three slot at Barcelona.

Perez, returning to the grid after two weeks in self-isolation following a positive coronavirus test, was fourth ahead of Stroll.

Alex Albon, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Leclerc and Pierre Gasly completed the top ten.

Times
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:15.584
2Valtteri BottasMercedes0.059s
3Max VerstappenRed Bull0.708s
4Sergio PerezRacing Point0.898s
5Lance StrollRacing Point1.005s
6Alex AlbonRed Bull1.445s
7Carlos SainzMcLaren1.460s
8Lando NorrisMcLaren1.500s
9Charles LeclercFerrari1.713s
10Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri1.552s
11Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.166
12Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1:17.192
13Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:17.198
14Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1:17.386
15Esteban Ocon Renault 1:17.567
16Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:17.908
17Romain Grosjean Haas 1:18.089
18George Russell Williams 1:18.099
19Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:18.532
20Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1:18.697

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