Hamilton hits back with pole in Spain

2016 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the third time this year after seeing off the threat from team mate Nico Rosberg in Spain.

The Mercedes driver served notice of his potential with a flying lap in Q2 and recovered from a mistake on his first run in Q3 to take pole position at the Circuit de Catalunya for the second time in his career.

Red Bull came to the fore in qualifying and captured the second row of the grid at the expense of the struggling Ferrari drivers.


A lap of 1’23.002 – the fastest of the weekend so far – saw Rosberg secure the fastest time in the first phase of qualifying by two-tenths of a second from Hamilton. However immediately behind them the closest threat came not from Ferrari but Red Bull.

And the Red Bull driver leading the way was not Daniel Ricciardo, the team’s best qualifier of the first four races, but new driver Max Verstappen. His first lap on soft tyres left him just over half a second off Rosberg.

At the opposite end of the time sheets the fight to reach Q2 was closely-fought. Sauber and Manor didn’t really figure in it and will occupy the final rows of the grid. But the last two places in the drop zone swapped places several times in the final minutes – and produced a surprise elimination.

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Felipe Massa’s first effort left him seven-tenths of a second behind team mate Valtteri Bottas. The team had joined the track late in the session, and Massa had too little time left for another run having failed to make the cut.

A late improvement from Jenson Button consigned fellow Briton Jolyon Palmer to a Q1 departure, the Renault driver having set his best time on used tyres.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1’24.903
18 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’24.941
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’25.202
20 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1’25.579
21 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes 1’25.745
22 Rio Haryanto Manor-Mercedes 1’25.939


Hamilton hit back hard as Q2 began, delivering a lap exactly six-tenths of a second quicker than Rosberg’s to lead the standings. Only his team mate got within a second of that with their first runs – the best of the rest being led again by Verstappen.

Kimi Raikkonen was next, the Ferrari driver abandoning his first run after understeering wide in turn four. Ricciardo also did a second run and moved up to fifth, demoting Vettel who did not use another set of tyres in Q2.

One of the last drivers to claim a place in Q3 was Sergio Perez, who eliminated team mate Nico Hulkenberg by doing so. Carlos Sainz Jnr made it three out of four Red Bull-backed drivers in the top ten, leaving new team mate Daniil Kvyat behind.

McLaren also had one of their drivers in Q3 – but that’s one more than they’ve had at every other round since teaming up with Honda. Fernando Alonso delivered the goods at his home event, edging Hulkenberg by a mere 11 thousandths of a second.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’24.203
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1’24.348
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’24.445
14 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’24.480
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1’24.625
16 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 1’24.778


Hamilton was the first driver to set a lap in Q3 and looked on course to comfortably head the tyres until he reached the final sector. He grabbed the front-left brake at turn ten, understeered wide in a cloud of smoke, and handed the initiative to Rosberg. Hamilton still completed the lap, setting a 1’23.277, but that opened the door for Verstappen to pop in and provisionally claim a place on the front row by seven-hundredths of a second.

The Ferrari pair were struggling awfully, the SF16-Hs looking as if they were driving on a track which was damp instead of a warm 44C. Raikkonen grappled with oversteer in turn 12 and came past the pits two seconds slower than Rosberg. Vettel was only three-tenths quicker.

Only those five drivers did a run at the start of Q3 but all ten returned to the track for a final effort. Once again Hamilton was the first of the Mercedes drivers to set a time – and if he was feeling the heat from Rosberg, he wasn’t showing it.

His final flying effort was as flawless and clean as the perfectly-rounded 82 second lap time suggested. Rosberg was left to settle for second best, almost three-tenths of a second down on his team mate.

Just as unflappable was Ricciardo, who with his single run in Q3 produced the perfect response to the threat from his junior team mate. Ricciardo claimed third on the grid by a solid four-tenths of a second.

That demoted the Ferrari pair to the third row of the grid. Raikkonen got the most out of the car but was still over a second down on Hamilton.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’22.000
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’22.280
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’22.680
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’23.087
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’23.113
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’23.334
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’23.522
8 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’23.643
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’23.782
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’23.981

2016 Spanish Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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79 comments on “Hamilton hits back with pole in Spain”

  1. I was getting way too excited because of Max and then Daniel smashes his lap by 0.4secs! What a great performance from both.

    Oh and good job Mercedes, slight scare there at first for Lewis.

    1. Best qualifying session for a long time! Had all the ingredients. Loved it!

      1. Best indeed.
        The excitement was real. Verstappen and Nico hyped the session up and and when you thought they had it in the bag, their team mates rocketed past them and stole the positions. Then you have Ferrari that went backwards from the time they set in P3. Shocking.
        Fernando securing Mclaren’s first step into Q3 after a long absence was awesome.
        Then you have Carlos Sainz a shocking half second away from an upgraded 2016 Ferrari power unit while running a 2015 power unit. He continues to impress.
        I hate to be Horner/Marko having to decide where to place 3 such great talents they have – Ric, Ves, Sainz.
        Nice to see that Carlos has not allowed the Ves poaching to get to him and affect his performance.

    2. Yeah, but Red Bull’s swap totally justified in my opinion. Verstappen clearly forced Ricciardo to raise his own performance, precisely what the team needed to stir their ambition again. Looking forward to the rest of the season.

      1. I don’t think RIC has “raised” his performance any… He was already punching above his weight.

        I still don’t being justified until we see after some races how these 2 powerhouses interact with each other on the track. It could be disastrous in the race if VES still has his ego and throws a “I deserve to pass” tantrum

      2. Justified? Sure.

        But it was never performance that made the swap on the nose anyway.

    3. Me too. RIC made a statement lap but Max did impress me anyway. On the other hand, I’ll give Kvyat some time to settle but so far his return to Toro Rosso is not looking good performance-wise…

  2. Pretty pretty good by Ves (tell me he hasn’t been in a Redbull simulator all year) and awesome by Ric.

    1. I don’t know… 0.4 sec is quite a margin between team mates. Let’s give Max 2 more races to get to know the car better and if it’s consistently that big of a difference… we’ll finally know true value of Max.

      1. The difference on pace is definitely not .4s… There was only 1 tenth between their Q3 laps after S2. Something went wrong in S3 for Max, looking at his other S3 times he should have only been .1s behind RIC’s Q3 time.

        1. Guybrush Threepwood
          14th May 2016, 15:06

          Ricciardo didn’t have his engine turned up in Q1 and 2 like Max did. Ricciardo was around 8 to 9 km/h slower in the speed traps during the first two qualifying sessions so it’s no surprise when he turned it up he was considerably faster than Max.

          1. What you say doesn’t explain how VES S3 time was 3 tenths slower in Q3 than it was in Q2. He was equal with RIC otherwise.

          2. ColdFly F1 (@)
            14th May 2016, 17:22

            Great insight.
            Please tell Horner as he still doesn’t know if RIC was sandbagging.

        2. Nothin’ wrong with Max, Dan got it right.

    2. duncan, just a little FYI, Red Bull and STR share simulators :)

  3. Great from Ricciardo…Beterschap Verstappen impressies me most. FIRST time he drove this car this weekend…and starting in front of Ferrari is simpley amazing

    1. Billgates307
      14th May 2016, 17:30

      Beterschap Verstappen? what country are you from? ;-)
      Max did a superb job all weekend. If he continues like this ( being so constant) he will give RIC a hard time.

  4. Lewis, Lewis, Lewis
    Red Bull and Mercedes chassis clearly better than Ferrari’s and Red Bull say their expecting 0.500s from Renault by Canada. Sergio Marchione(what ever it is) is gonna be having a melt down.

    1. Rosberg was many tenths behind in Q2. Which makes me wonder if he has kept some in the tyres for the race.

      1. It is a possibility. However, track position is gold in Spain and his slightly better preserved tyres would not make any meaningful difference for the first stint, what can make a huge difference is Lewis start, so far he has been struggling “off the block” this season and Nico should keep an eye on that because if Lewis stays in front after turn 1 I think it will be tough to beat him.

    2. but practice sessions didn’t show that…. something went wrong for them… maybe tire pressures or something like that…

      1. @ivan-vinitskyy Maybe it could just be Ferrari version of Mercedes Singapore moment last season

    3. @foreverred Ferrari has some explaining to do, they went no quicker than this morning. Before Ferrari weren’t delivering on Sunday now they seem not be able to string a weekend together.

      1. @peartree Ferrari Civil War

    4. @foreverred What would people be saying if Rosberg had received an improved MGU-H this weekend and got pole? That would be a gifted pole, right? :P

      1. @paeschli
        Rosberg gifted 4 wins without challenge, while suffering 0 reliability problems and 0 bad luck and EVERYONE else around him sufferd 1 or the other or both. And is likely to get gifted more wins when his team-mates and rivals engine penalties kick in later in the season.
        1 man has been gifted everything so far is being made to look like some god.
        The other man has had everything from back luck to problems out of his hands and it’s claimed that he been gifted pole?
        Well at its the first thing that has gone in his favor.
        Try again lol.

        1. Hey @foreverred, Rosberg bead Hamilton of the line twice then Hamilton had problems with the other cars, but a lot of races are won of the start and Rosberg bead Hamilton twice fair and square. Yes he was gifted two wins but not four. Remember that ! The start is the most important part of a race.

  5. Can’t wait for tomorrow. Going to be fireworks. Probably not for the first 2 places, but Ferrari’s behind Red Bulls, VES behind RIC and VET behind RAI… Bring it on!

    1. Too bad the track is a damp squid.

      1. Sorry to be pedantic, but the saying is a damp SQUIB.

  6. Sviatoslav (@)
    14th May 2016, 14:32

    Ferrari failed once more time with the “new improvements”.
    I recall clearly what the Vettel fans were telling: “Vettel is much better worker, is much better developer of the car than Alonso!” and other similar ridiculous (in my view) things.
    Guys, I don’t see it.

    1. @sviat actually I can’t remember when last time they really improved cars during season. Maybe 2008 was the last properly developed and born-great car. 2009 and 2012 cars were dogs so they could be improved significantly still not enough to be winning cars. I can’t have faith they can win the title if they don’t have the car to beat in Melbourne.

      1. With an unfair built in advantage that gifts Ferrari the most money off the top (from the 5 teams that are given money off the top, the other 7 teams get nothing….) ánd the enormous resources they have at Fiorano and in terms of budget, they must be the least competent team out of the top 5 (Merc, Ferrari, RBR, Williams and Renault/Lotus) in terms of ‘bang for their buck’

        Still the most beautifull car and most romantic brand on the grid though imho

        1. McLaren?

          1. Yeah, McLaren too but they have an exuse in Honda. With a Renault or Merc they would be right up there with Williams and RBR is my guess

  7. So Marchione kicks Arrivabene now?

    1. I think that would be years ahead of when it would be reasonable.

  8. Lol just like i predicted down to a millisecond.. 1:22.000 Lewis. But i felt pretty stupid making that prediction… yet somehow he managed to meet it.

    But that Verstapen boy…, he is fast. Amazing.

    Tomorrow we will see amazing start from Red Bulls, cracking jump by Vettel and underperformance of Mercedeses on the start. It is gonna be quite amazing. Red Bull is so close to Mercedes in quali pace. That means they are close to them in race aswell…. And they are getting engine upgrade come Canada? Things are looking good for F1 future.

    1. Paul (@frankjaeger)
      14th May 2016, 14:43

      Oooo you’ve beaten me, I predicted 1:22.008. Closest I’ve ever come I think. All my guys are well placed to get good points for me. Rosberg needs a diabolical race for me to score high. Best of luck

      1. I felt stupid choosing 1:22.000 so I added a thousandth of a second just for fun. Unfortunately I didn’t account for Mercedes’ german precision.

  9. That was rather embarrassing for Ferrari. They barely matched their FP3 times, which is quite a massive blunder for a track this well known by all teams.

  10. We certainly have the set up for a wonderful race!

  11. Sainz juuuust behind of the Ferraris says a lot about that chassis, with an old engine versus a whole Ferrari package at it’s best. Great stuff by Carlos and his team.

    That James Key’s so hot right now!

    1. +1 about Sainz.

      Asking this because I don’t know…Toro Roso has the 2015 spec Ferrari but that doesn’t mean they’re optimizing it depending on what software they’re running. Is that a fair statement or am I missing something?

  12. Nico is yet to beat Lewis this year on a head-to-head match up for pole. The two times Nico has got pole has been when Lewis did not take part in Q3 qualifying. That makes you really wonder.

    1. Lewis is yet to beat Nico this year on a head-to-head match up for a race win. The two times Lewis was reliable he goofed the both starts. That makes you really wonder.

      1. A race to the first corner is not a race for the win.

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          14th May 2016, 17:33

          I’d rather win ‘the race to the first corner’ than do well in quali.

      2. Michael Brown (@)
        15th May 2016, 15:12

        @pking008 Get dunked on.

    2. @pking008 as TotoWolf (LOL) says. Rosberg isn’t just lucky this year: he’s properly fast. Hamilton locking heavily in his first lap in Q3 shows it. He’s having to work much harder to beat Nico.

      1. The Skeptic
        15th May 2016, 4:07

        Absolutely right. Nico is a very good driver, who has mastered the art of consistent high performance. Lewis is an even better driver – when he is “on”…. when he is off, he tends to make bigger mistakes (e.g. Hungary 2015).

      2. absolutely wrong, Lewis could have gone a few tenths faster in qualifying, I am wondering if Nico was asked to turn his motor down … Seriously.

        btw, if you think Lewis locked his front left going in to the hairpin because he was overdriving his car, you neglected to see the trash that attached it’s self to Lewis tire, right before the turn, look at the white streak on his tire, right before it turns in to a smoking patch of tire.

        Lewis had pole by a mile today, he was either sand bagging big style or Merc handed to him.

  13. 3 out of 3 for Lewis!

    Looks like it took a while for the car setup to be just right him.

    1. @supremacy Lewis said he follow Nico’s setup ‘direction’. Lewis can said he trust his mechanic 100% thousand times but in the end he’ll just follow ‘the winning team’ setup.

  14. Wonder if the new MGU-H Lewis has that Nico Doesn’t is worth 2 tenths? :-P

    1. Maybe. But Lewis only had one new MGU-H left while Nico still had four unused new MGU-H.

      1. @ruliemaulana It’s already been confirmed that isn’t not a performance update, just reliability. It they changed an elements of the engine that was giving them 0.2’s+ a lap, it would be on Nico’s car as well.

    2. It’s the same MGU-H it’s just been set up differently on lewis car.

      1. No it isn’t the same, that is why they had to give Lewis a new turbo to accommodate the new MGU-H. Facts please, not wistful thinking.

  15. What do Ferrari do with the money they receive is a mystery to me. No excuse, diabolical to say the least. Lewis did a great job considering the added pressure, Ricardo what a lap and Ves exciting to see how well he adapted and spoke after the quali session. He has this disregard for his colleagues that can only be justified in this sport. I don’t remember him mentioning his team mate by name and said beating “him” wasn’t the target this weekend but in such a way that you just know he is not there to play the second best. Cannot wait to see how this pans out. Hope Ricardo gives his a run for his money to make it all more exciting for us fans.

    1. It really is a big disappointment from Ferrari. Alonso’s frustrations were clearly justified and I wonder if Vettel is able to deal with a team that is good but never good enough.
      Whether its Arrivebene’s fault for talking a good game and saying they were at Mercedes level or us as fans for believing they hype or Mercedes talking up Ferrari knowing full well they had another level of performance. The much awaited for competition will not materialize sadly and once again it will be a Mercedes walk-over.

  16. WheeledWarrior
    14th May 2016, 16:33

    On a lesser plane, can we also by now conclude that Nasr isn’t the hot shot many people mistook him for at the beginning of last year? Outqualified again by Ericsson at 3 tenths no less. I’m just not seeing it with the guy.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      14th May 2016, 17:39

      And GUT probably had another unknown car problem stopping him from showing us what a stellar talent he is :^|

      1. 3 tenths down on Grosjean is hardly a poor effort.

  17. spafrancorchamps
    14th May 2016, 16:47

    Does anyone knows where I can find the fastest sector times for each driver? Why is it so hard to find that?

  18. That was fun to watch. In my opinion Ricciardo is a top 2 talent right now behind Hamilton and Max is looking good. He took a good car and didn’t disappoint. I’m predicting Max to get a podium in Monaco.

    1. Are you kidding?

      If Ricciardo was in that Merc he would CRUSH Hamilton just like he destroyed the other multi WDC he went up against.

      Ricciardo is the best qualifier and racer in F1 right now, hands down.

    2. 1. Ham
      2. Ric
      3. Alo
      4. Ros
      5. Vet

  19. Guybrush Threepwood
    14th May 2016, 22:12

    I don’t really see how people can rave about Max’s qualifying performance. He finished 4 tenths slower than Ricciardo which is enough to get you kicked out of the team. Yes it’s a new car, but it didn’t seem to effect Ricciardo too much when he started beating Vetted straight away in 2014.

    I do however think the Max is going to be a lot closer in future races.

  20. Lee Porcelli
    14th May 2016, 23:21

    Fantastic qualifying session. Don’t change that format. Go Daniel.

  21. Melchior (@)
    15th May 2016, 4:43

    Damn you channel 10 !!!
    I see that the Merc’s have over a half second over the next,not necessarily,best cars.

  22. “Ricardo will beat hamilton” lol.Ricardo is a 3 time gp winner and Hamilton is a 3 time world champion.Ricardo suddently came into lime light as we was beaten sebastian vettel,but he is no where near good enough to beat Lewis Hamilton .if.anybody can take a close fight to Hamilton it is only fernando Alonso.

    1. Ricciardo can beat Hamilton any time mate. I didn’t rate him high ’till – http://www.topgear.com/car-news/top-gear-tv/video-how-ricciardo-set-his-tg-lap-record

    2. “Ricciardo will beat Vettel” lol no race winner vs 4-time world champion.

    3. This being an English site I expect people to always choose HAM, but from what I have seen and multiple experts have said, it Alonso who’s on top, second place is a little iffy it can be anyone form Vettel, Ham,or Riccardo. Veytel loosing to Riccardo is not a definite, because I seem to remember Horner saying the setup of the red bull that year meant that Vettel had to relearn how to drive, and it was just not natural to him. Add to the fact, Vettel destroyed Riccardo in the world drivers championship. Vettel vs Ham is a 50/50 prediction, one wins today the other wins tomorrow.

  23. Oh delete that post please, the one it was replying to has disappeared.

  24. I want to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to 80+% of the pitpass readers (and many other F1 followers around the world) who raised their voice and forced the F1 regulators to get this qualifying format back.

    Or not. I still cannot believe people find this exciting. There was 1 driver doing slightly better than expected and then it’s a great session?
    In reality we watched a very boring and predictable affair that could be 40 minutes shorter.
    In Q1 only the two backmarker teams went out early and everyone else stayed in until halfway through the session. The only reaseon we weren’t watching an empty track is that Mercedes is so far ahead they don’t need to consider track conditions. They filled the empty space. Nine drivers did one run only.
    In Q2 the same thing happened. Only Mercedes was out early, because they can, and everyone else was waiting.
    In Q3 only 5 drivers did 2 timed laps. When that happened in the elimination format, there was outrage.
    Then there is the utterly stupid rule that drivers still can post a time after the chequered flag is out. This only prolongues the session by two minutes, or in other words, prolongues the time they wait before they get started by two minutes.
    We know that when drivers do 2 runs in in Q2 and Q3, the first run is on worn tyres and thus irrelevant. All the action takes place after the flag is out, there’s no reason the watch the laps before it.

    Elimination style qualifying at least was an attempt to make the full hour of qualifying interesting to watch. I’ll admit it was implemented badly, but it could have been made to work. The only way the current format can work, is to shorten each session to 5 minutes.

    1. Go take you meds to get back to reality. What kind of person whines about qualifying after that?

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