until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Verstappen dominates shock-filled Spanish GP qualifying

by Matt Beer
3 min read

Max Verstappen breezed to Spanish Grand Prix pole position in a dramatic session that proved disastrous for his Formula 1 title rival Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc and George Russell, and featured high-speed contact between the Mercedes drivers.

Amid a host of shocks and incidents, Verstappen finds himself with home hero Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari alongside his Red Bull on the front row and Lando Norris a startling third for McLaren.

Ferrari driver Leclerc was the first major casualty in a chaotic Q1 that included a red flag after an array of spins on a track still slightly damp in places following earlier rain meant the FIA wanted a pause to get gravel off the circuit.

The exit of the tight Turn 10 had been particularly problematic, with both AlphaTauris and Valtteri Bottas spinning there, while Alex Albon lost it under braking for the downhill Turn 5 left-hander and Fernando Alonso slewed through the gravel at the restored fast final corner.

Leclerc stayed on the road but reported an unexplained handling problem affecting his Ferrari’s handling in left-handers. A change of tyres failed to solve it and he ended up a desperate and perplexed 19th in the session, joining Bottas, Kevin Magnussen and the Haas pair in being eliminated.

Perez only just made it out of Q1 in 15th place and then was the wrong side of the cut-off in Q2, having gone off through the Turn 5 gravel on the first lap of his last run and then failing to find enough time on dirty tyres on his next lap, leaving him 11th.

He shares row two with George Russell, who complained of his Mercedes bouncing and said he had no feeling with the tyres, but who also got involved in a frightening incident with team-mate Hamilton.

The pair touched wheels when flat-out on the main straight after an apparent miscommunication, with Hamilton sustaining wing damage and brushing the grass. He made it through to Q3 with the lap he’d managed before the clash.

Hamilton shared the provisional front row with old nemesis Verstappen early in Q3 before eventually being edged down to fifth as Verstappen swept to pole with a 0.462-second margin over Sainz.

Norris had been a frontrunner throughout qualifying, second-fastest to Verstappen in both Q1 and Q2 and then third in Q3.

Pierre Gasly was fourth for Alpine as its upgraded car continued to show great form, but he was always unlikely to start there as he is under investigation for two impeding incidents – with Sainz in Q1 and Verstappen in Q2. He was later demoted to 10th.

His team-mate Esteban Ocon was seventh behind Hamilton and Lance Stroll, who emerged as Aston Martin’s lead hope once Alonso had sustained floor damage in his early Q1 incident.

Aston Martin patched the car up and Alonso made it to Q3, but was only able to go ninth-fastest there with a single late run.

That puts him between the impressive Haas of Nico Hulkenberg and the second McLaren of Oscar Piastri.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m13.615s 1m12.76s 1m12.272s
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m13.411s 1m12.79s 1m12.734s
3 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m13.295s 1m12.776s 1m12.792s
4 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1m13.471s 1m13.186s 1m12.816s
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m12.937s 1m12.999s 1m12.818s
6 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m13.766s 1m13.082s 1m12.994s
7 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m13.433s 1m13.001s 1m13.083s
8 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1m13.42s 1m13.283s 1m13.229s
9 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m13.747s 1m13.098s 1m13.507s
10 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1m13.691s 1m13.059s 1m13.682s
11 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m13.874s 1m13.334s
12 George Russell Mercedes 1m13.326s 1m13.447s
13 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m13.677s 1m13.521s
14 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m13.581s 1m14.083s
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m13.862s 1m14.477s
16 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m13.977s
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m14.042s
18 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m14.063s
19 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m14.079s
20 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1m14.699s
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