Sunday, May 13, 2018


Lewis Hamilton powered to top spot in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, taking his first pole position since the season-opening Australian Grand Prix ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas and the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen.
In Q1, after the early pace was set by Kimi Räikkönen, Vettel then raised the bar considerably with a lap of 1:17.031 that put him four tenths of a second ahead of the Finn, with Hamilton third. Red Bulls drivers then disrupted things with Daniel Ricciardo jumping ahead of Hamilton and Max Verstappen recovering from an FP3 electrical problem to vault to P2 with a time of 1:17.411.

In the drop zone as the final runs began were Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, William’s Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, as well as Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley. After crashing heavily in FP3 Hartley and causing extensive damage to the rear of his Toro Rosso, Hartley was never going to figure in the session, but Hulkenberg, who had qualified in seventh place three times this season, was an unlikely candidate for the drop.

The German suffered with a fuel pressure issue early in the session but Renault managed to get their driver out for the final runs. His lap, though, was not stellar and in P14 after his run he was still in danger. And the danger in the end came from McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne whose final lap was good enough to push Hulkenberg out of the session in P16.

Eliminated behind the German were Ericsson and Sirotkin. Out, too, went Stroll whose session was ended both by poor performance and by a crash at the very end of the session. The Canadian lost control in Turn 13 and slid off into the gravel trap and out of the session ahead of Hartley.

In Q2 the frontrunners went out on soft tyres at the start of the session and Hamilton laid down what looked like a solid marker with a lap of 1:17.166. That was swiftly eclipsed by team-mate Bottas and then demolished by Vettel, who became the first man under 1m17s with a lap of 1:16.802. The lap put him 0.269 clear of team-mate Räikkönen.

Behind Mercedes and Ferrari, Verstappen looked secure in fifth but Ricciardo had not put in the perfect lap and as the final runs began Red Bull chose to send out again, on supersofts, as they did with Verstappen and as Mercedes did with Hamilton.

In the end, though, Ricciardo’s passage to Q3 was never in doubt as rivals behind failed to find the time necessary to dislodge him and the Australian was eventually told to back of in third sector to preserve his soft tyre lap as his quickest of the session.

Thus, like the Ferraris and Mercedes and Verstappen, he will start on the soft tyres. Out, though, went Vandoorne in 11th place with the Belgian finishing ahead of Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, Force India’s Esteban Ocon, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc and the second Force India of Sergio Pérez.

In the first runs of Q3, it was Hamilton who set the pace with a time of 1:16.491, but while it might have been expected that Vettel would respond, the German’s opening time of the final segment was not good and his lap of 1:17.255, slower than his Q1 time, left him fifth. Red Bull, meanwhile, found more pace and Verstappen set a time of 1:18.816 to sit just over three tenths behind Hamilton.

Ricciardo took third with a time of 1:16.818 ahead of Bottas and Vettel. An in the final runs Hamilton converted his advantage, setting blistering pace to claim his 74th career pole position and his first since the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Bottas joined his team-mate on the front row, just four hundredths of a second behind his team-mate and Vettel, who made a significant improvement to 1:16.305 finished third ahead of team-mate Räikkönen who used soft tyres to climb from P8 after the first run to P4.

The third row was annexed by Red Bull with Verstappen taking fifth with time of 1:16.816. Like Räikkönen, team-mate Ricciardo gambled that the soft tyre might provide more lap time but in the end he only improved by four hundredths of a second to finish just 0.002 behind his team-mate.

Kevin Magnussen was seventh for Haas, while Fernando Alonso took Renault powered McLaren ahead of Renault works driver Carlos Sainz. Tenth place was taken by Romain Grosjean in the second Haas.
2018 Spanish Grand Prix – Qualifying
 P.    DRIVER           TEAM         TIME     GAP  
 1. Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes AMG 1:16.173
 2. Valtteri Bottas   Mercedes AMG 1:16.215 + 0.040
 3. Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari      1:16.305 + 0.132
 4. Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari      1:16.612 + 0.439
 5. Max Verstappen    Red Bull     1:16.816 + 0.643
 6. Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull     1:16.818 + 0.645
 7. Kevin Magnussen   Haas         1:17.676 + 1.503
 8. Fernando Alonso   McLaren      1:17.721 + 1.548
 9. Carlos Sainz JR.  Renault      1:17.790 + 1.617
10. Romain Grosjean   Haas         1:17.835 + 1.662
  Q2 Fastest time: Sebastian Vettel 1:16.802       
11. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren      1:18.323 + 1.521
12. Pierre Gasly      Toro Rosso   1:18.463 + 1.661
13. Esteban Ocon      Force India  1:18.696 + 1.894
14. Charles Leclerc   Sauber       1:18.910 + 2.108
15. Sergio Perez      Force India  1:19.098 + 2.296
  Q1 Fastest time: Sebastian Vettel 1:17.031       
16. Nico Hulkenberg   Renault      1:18.923 + 1.892
17. Marcus Ericsson   Sauber       1:19.493 + 2.462
18. Sergey Sirotkin   Williams     1:19.695 + 2.664
19. Lance Stroll      Williams     1:20.225 + 3.194
20. Brendon Hartley   Toro Rosso   no time
107% time: 1:22.423
2014 Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG - 1:25.232
2015 Nico Rosberg   - Mercedes AMG - 1:24.681
2016 Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG - 1:22.000
2017 Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG - 1:19.149
2018 Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG - 1:16.173