Lewis Hamilton secured his second pole of 2018 after qualifying for the 2018 Spanish GP. Hamilton’s lap of 1:16:173 set the new record for the Circuit de Catalunya Barcelona and was just 0.040s faster than team mate Valtteri Bottas with Sebastian Vettel a close third in the Ferrari.
The session was overshadowed by the threat of rain and a curious tyre temperature profile for the newly modified Pirelli super-soft compound which meant that track action was abundant and different strategies were trialed. The super-soft compound was made with a shallower tread to prevent overheating on the newly-resurfaced track, which played to Mercedes’s characteristic of easily finding tyre temperature, as opposed to Ferrari’s characteristic of being kinder on the tyres with a much less tendency to overheat them.
Both of Hamilton’s runs in Q3 were made on the super-softs, with Bottas following suit. The Briton set the early pace in the final session before beating his previous time by 0.3s, while Bottas’s mighty effort in the first and third sectors was undercut by a slower middle sector, meaning he will line up second on the dirty side of the grid.
Vettel set his first run on the super-softs but said he didn’t feel comfortable with this compound and instead opted to take the yellow-marked soft compound on his second run, missing out on Hamilton by 0.132 of a second, with team mate Kimi Raikkonen lining up in fourth, also on softs.
The Red Bull pair will line up 5th and 6th, with Max Verstappen narrowly beating Daniel Ricciardo by only two thousandths of a second. Red Bull chose to split their tyre choices with Verstappen setting his quickest time on the super-soft compound as opposed to Ricciardo’s choice of softs.
Kevin Magnussen will line up 7th in the Haas, ahead of local hero Fernando Alonso in the McLaren, team mate Romain Grosjean and the other Spaniard Carlos Sainz in 8th, 9th and 10th respectively. Out of the top 10 drivers, only Alonso set his quickest time in Q2 on super-softs, meaning he will be the only top-10 car fitting the red-marked Pirellis at the start of tomorrow’s race.
Stoffel Vandoorne’s effort wasn’t enough to get him out of Q2 as the Belgian’s’ lap was 0.2s off his team mate and will line up 11th ahead of Pierre Gasly for Toro Rosso. The Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez will start from 13th and 15th respectively, with Charles Leclerc impressively splitting the pair in P14, two tenths ahead of Perez.
Nico Hulkenberg’s horrid weekend continued with a Q1 exit and will line up 16th after his first attempt was hampered by fuel pressure issues. Marcus Ericsson set the 17th fastest time ahead of Sergei Sirotkin, who will serve a 3-place grid penalty after his opening-lap incident at the Azerbaijan GP two weeks ago. Sirotkin’s team mate Lance Stroll crashed his Williams on the outside barrier between Turns 12 and 13 and will start ahead of Brendon Hartley who didn’t take part in today’s qualifying after his massive crash during the morning’s free practice session.
Sunday’s 66-lap race will start at 15:10 local time (GMT +2).
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team