F1 2021 Spanish Grand Prix: Hamilton claims 100th Pole Position in Formula 1
It’s no secret that overtaking is difficult around Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya, so qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix is an extremely important session.
Sir Lewis Hamilton was looking for his 100th pole position in Formula 1, while Max Verstappen needed to make up ground in the championship battle.
Who would come out on top? And could the second drivers of Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez play a role in the battle for pole?
There was a ten-minute delay to the start of qualifying due to a barrier needing to be repaired after a Formula Regional event earlier in the day. Sunny skies and warm temperatures adorned the Circuit de Catalunya this Saturday afternoon, so lap times would be very representative.
Most drivers opted for the faster soft tyres, but the exception were Mercedes whose drivers chose the mediums. Despite this, Bottas was fastest in Q1, with Hamilton less than two tenths off Verstappen in P5 in the early stages.
The drivers who were in danger crawled around before the final runs to keep life in their rubber. This paid off, as the track was significantly faster than earlier in the session. Lando Norris was held up in the traffic jam in the final sector for his first run, but he topped Q1 with his second gambit.
The Haas’ of Nikita Mazepin (P20), Mick Schumacher (P18) & Williams of Nicholas Latifi (P19), were among those out in Q1. Surprisingly, Kimi Raikkonen (P17) and Yuki Tsunoda (P16) also joined that trio in going no further in qualifying.
Bottas again topped the session in the early stages of Q2, but Verstappen rang the neck out of his Red Bull to go almost half a second faster than the Finn. Tyres didn’t come into the equation, as everybody chose the soft compound.
The field was bunched incredibly tightly, as two tenths of a second separated Carlos Sainz in fifth and Sebastian Vettel in thirteenth after the first runs. In that group was Perez, but the Mexican got his Red Bull into Q3 after his second Q2 lap.
Sadly, George Russell (P15) had run out of qualifying tyres, but the Brit almost managed to beat Antonio Giovinazzi’s (P14) Alfa Romeo. Vettel (P13) and Lance Stroll (P11) weren’t able to get their Aston Martins into the top ten. The final driver out in Q2 was Pierre Gasly (P12), the AlphaTauri still struggling.
It all came down to the top ten shootout, Red Bull were the favourites, but could Mercedes make a comeback in final qualifying?
Sainz was looking quickest until Perez spun in the final sector. The yellow flags came out but that didn’t stop Hamilton from setting the fastest time of the first runs. Even though the world champion had to slow down, he was less than a tenth of a second faster than Verstappen.
Just like last weekend in Portugal, the second runs of the drivers weren’t enough to beat their first gambits. That meant that Sir Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th pole position in Formula 1 and will start tomorrow’s race from P1. Verstappen still has a shot in second, with Bottas in third.
Perez set a lap, but it was a disappointing eighth place for the Mexican. Charles Leclerc was an impressive fourth in his Ferrari, with Esteban Ocon again staring in qualifying, he’ll start in P5 in his Alpine. Sainz starts his home race in P6, with Daniel Ricciardo in seventh. Norris was a disappointing ninth and Fernando Alonso rounded off the top ten.
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||+0.036|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||+0.960|
|11||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:17.974 (Q2)|
|13||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+0.105|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+0.382|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||1:18.556 (Q1)|
|17||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+0.361|
Grid Talk Podcast
Want more reaction to yesterday’s exciting qualifying session? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their analysis of qualifying for the 2021 Spanish GP. George Howson hosted Adam Burns, Louis Edwards and Tom Horrox in their latest podcast. Audio and video versions of the show are linked below: