until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Norris claims second F1 pole at Spanish GP with 'best-ever lap'

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

Lando Norris defeated Max Verstappen in a thrilling Formula 1 pole fight at the Spanish Grand Prix, snatching first place on Sunday's grid away at the last second by 0.020s to claim his second-ever F1 pole.

Verstappen looked to have a decisive edge over his rivals after comfortably topping Q2 and then leading in the initial stages of Q3 despite not even matching his Q2 time.

But while Verstappen then found an extra two tenths on his second run, Norris found four, denying the championship-leading Dutchman for his and McLaren's first grand prix pole since 2021.

After qualifying he called it the best lap of his F1 career so far.

Three tenths behind them, Lewis Hamilton overturned his recent trend of qualifying defeats versus Mercedes team-mate George Russell, albeit just by 0.002s - with Russell having run in his tow all through Q3 and having objected to Hamilton's prep lap strategy on their first run.

It was ultimately a disappointing showing for the Ferraris, with Charles Leclerc - escaping a penalty for his contact with Norris in third practice - 0.005s ahead of Carlos Sainz but just short of the Mercedes duo.

It meant the Ferraris locked out row three, followed by the qualifying's surprise package - Pierre Gasly's Alpine.

Taking seventh place, Gasly was only a tenth and a half off third as he outqualified team-mate Esteban Ocon for a third successive weekend, albeit with Ocon also making Q3.

The second Red Bull of Sergio Perez was well adrift of Verstappen all throughout qualifying, ending up with a best lap six tenths slower.

He did beat Ocon to eighth, but will be relegated to 11th on the grid thanks to a grid penalty for driving a "damaged car" back to the pits during the Canadian Grand Prix.

Norris' team-mate Oscar Piastri was last in Q3 and will start ninth. Piastri had his first lap deleted for track limits - but that lap will have been 10th-fastest in Q3 anyway - before spinning on his final attempt while catching the gravel exiting Turn 12.

Sainz's fellow home hero Fernando Alonso was 0.019s off making the final segment. He will start 10th thanks to Perez's grid penalty.

Perez will instead be joined on row six by Valtteri Bottas - whose Sauber team not only got out of Q1 for the first time since China but did so with both cars.

But team-mate Zhou Guanyu was last in Q2, half a second down on Bottas and with the likes of Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) slotting in between them.

Kevin Magnussen was the quickest of those to exit in Q1, eight tenths off the pace in the segment and half a tenth off advancing - while also having given team-mate Hulkenberg a small tow on the back straight on the latter's Q2-securing effort.

RB, which made Q3 with both of its cars in qualifying last time out in Canada, was eliminated in full in the opening segment.

Yuki Tsunoda headed team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by two tenths, but that was only good enough for 17th, Tsunoda meeting the news on team radio that he'd missed the cut with disbelief.

Still, RB was at least more potent than Williams, another team declining sharply compared to Canada - with lead driver Alex Albon nowhere near threatening for a Q2 berth despite beating Logan Sargeant by three tenths in the fight to avoid last on the grid.

"It's been a painful weekend, guys. I'm trying my best," Sargeant told the team after concluding his run. He is also under investigation for having potentially impeded Stroll at Turn 10.

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