Max Verstappen secured a comfortable pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix as team mate Sergio Perez was eliminated from Q2.
The championship leader secured pole by almost half a second from Carlos Sainz Jnr’s Ferrari and Lando Norris taking third place. Charles Leclerc was knocked out 19th in Q1, with Perez and George Russell failing to reach Q2 in 11th and 12th, respectively.
Fernando Alonso was out-qualified by team mate Lance Stroll and will only start ninth on the grid for his home grand prix.
Q1Yuki Tsunoda was in such a hurry that he even spun approaching turn 12 on his out-lap as he hit a damp patch, spinning through 360 degrees but managing to resume.
Nico Hulkenberg appeared to have set the quickest time with a 1’14.006 ahead of the two Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, however, his time was deleted for exceeding track limits at turn five. The lack of grip was evident by Fernando Alonso running wide at the exit of the final corner and bouncing over the gravel. Valtteri Bottas emulated Tsunoda by spinning in the exact same manner at the same point as the AlphaTauri driver, while Alexander Albon ran off at turn five, ending up in the gravel.
As Albon rejoined the track, he dragged a large amount of gravel back onto the circuit with him. The session was red-flagged to allow the track to be cleared until the session resumed after a nine-minute delay.
Conditions appeared to have remained static when the field were released back onto the circuit, with the Alfa Romeos of Zhou Guanyu and Bottas leading the field out. Max Verstappen immediately jumped to the top of the times with a 1’13.660, while McLaren’s Oscar Piastri lapped just three-hundredths of a second off the Red Bull in second place. Nyck de Vries had an identical spin at turn 12 to his team mate Tsunoda and Bottas but was also able to get his car out of the gravel and the session continued uninterrupted.
With under four minutes remaining, both Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc were both sitting in the elimination zone, 16th and 17th. Also at risk of being knocked out was Tsunoda in 18th and the Williams pair, slowest of all. Both Perez and Leclerc took new soft tyres and Perez used his to immediately go safe in fourth, while Albon moved into the top ten, which dropped the two Haas cars of Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen into danger.
The track conditions were improving rapidly as the chequered flag flew. Leclerc improved but only to a 1’14.079, which left him vulnerable as the majority of the field shaved vital tenths off their personal bests on their final laps. After every car had crossed the line, Leclerc was back down in 19th place and was out – a stunning early exit for the Ferrari driver. Also joining Leclerc out in Q1 was Bottas in 16th, ahead of Magnussen and Albon, with Sargeant the final driver eliminated in 20th.
|4||55||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Ferrari||SF-23||1’13.411||0.474||10|
|8||21||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’13.581||0.644||10|
|9||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’13.615||0.678||9|
|10||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’13.677||0.740||10|
|12||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’13.747||0.810||9|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’13.766||0.829||11|
|14||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’13.862||0.925||11|
|15||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’13.874||0.937||10|
|16||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’13.977||1.040||10|
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Red Bull were eager to get going when the second session began, with both Verstappen and Perez both taking to the track, the former on a fresh set of softs and the latter a used set. They were joined by Sainz’s Ferrari, which also took to the track on a used set of softs.
Verstappen was easily the quicker of the two Red Bulls on their first laps, with Verstappen’s 1’12.760 over eight tenths of a second quicker than his team mate and a full second better than Sainz’s first lap. Next it was the turn of the Mercedes drivers to set their first laps, with Russell six tenths slower than Verstappen’s benchmark.
Alonso moved into second place after his first effort of the session, but was still over half a second slower than Verstappen. The only driver to get within half a second of the championship leader was Hamilton in the Mercedes, slotting into second place ahead of Alonso.
The field returned to the pits, with the track falling silent with five minutes of session time remaining. The drivers who had to find time from their final runs included the two McLarens of Norris and Piastri, the two AlphaTauris of De Vries and Tsunoda and Hulkenberg’s Haas, the slowest of the 15 cars. But the final minutes of the second session was to serve up more surprises.
The field all returned to the track, but Russell’s first lap was ruined by Perez running off at turn five and bouncing across the gravel. But neither Russell nor Perez could improve by enough on their second push laps and were both eliminated as the chequered flag flew, Perez in 11th and Russell in 12th.
The two Mercedes drivers had made contact on the pit straight while Hamilton pulled alongside his team mate with a slipstream, Russell unaware that Hamilton was approaching behind him. Hamilton, however, was able to reach Q3.
Behind Perez and Russell, Zhou was also knocked out in 13th place, with the two AlphaTauris of De Vries and Tsunoda the last drivers eliminated slowest of all.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’12.760||9|
|3||55||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Ferrari||SF-23||1’12.790||0.030||10|
|7||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’13.082||0.322||11|
|8||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’13.098||0.338||9|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’13.334||0.574||10|
|13||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’13.521||0.761||10|
|14||21||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’14.083||1.323||10|
|15||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’14.477||1.717||11|
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With no team mate in Q3 for the second successive Saturday, pole position seemed like an open goal for Verstappen. Red Bull sent the championship leader out of the pit lane on a fresh set of soft tyres for his first run, while the majority of the top ten opted for used tyres for the first efforts of the pole position shoot-out.
Piastri set the first provisional pole time with a 1’13.772, but that was beaten by Alpine of Ocon and Sainz’s Ferrari. Then Verstappen crossed the line on his fresh set of softs and posted an ominously fast lap with a 1’12.272, over a second faster than anyone else. Hamilton was the only driver to get within a second of Verstappen’s first effort, but was still more than nine tenths adrift of the sole remaining Red Bull.
Only Alonso chose not to set an early run, staying in the pits while he waited until the end of the session to make his sole attempt. With a clear track, Hulkenberg took advantage and posted a 1’13.229 to move into a provisional third place as the rest of the field began to filter out onto the circuit for the final time.
Alonso headed out relatively early and was the first driver to cross the line to begin his final flying lap of qualifying, with Sainz immediately behind him. Alonso could not trouble Verstappen’s pole time and only managed a provisional fourth place, which was instantly beaten by Sainz, who moved second, and team mate Stroll.
Verstappen was going even faster behind them but with Hamilton unable to get close to his time, he abandoned his lap in the final sector, pole position already secured. Norris jumped his McLaren up to third with his final lap, with Gasly moving fourth in the Alpine and Hamilton taking fifth on his final run.
Stroll will start sixth, out-qualifying his team mate for the first time in the season. Ocon took seventh on the grid in the second Alpine, with Hulkenberg eighth. Alonso’s only lap left him in ninth place, with Piastri rounding out the top ten in the second McLaren.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’12.272||20|
|2||55||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Ferrari||SF-23||1’12.734||0.462||22|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’12.994||0.722||23|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’13.507||1.235||18|
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2023 Spanish Grand Prix
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