Brilliant Bottas: Spain GP 2019 Qualifying Analysis
Practice 3 Overview
Coming off the back of Practice 3 it was clearly Mercedes who were a class above the rest, with Hamilton finishing top of the timesheets with a stunning 1.16.5 in tricky colder conditions. Championship leader Bottas had a poor session making a clumsy mistake on cold tyres in Turn 5 and beaching his Mercedes in the gravel. The stewards managed to get the car back to the garage and Bottas went out again but his programme was undoubtedly compromised. The Haas boys in 5th and 6th were the surprise package and look good for giving Red Bull a run for their money. Albon in 8th was also a fantastic result with the Toro Rosso suiting the long, sweeping corners of the Barcelona circuit
With cold temperatures in Practice 3 the sun reappeared and gave light to the Barcelona circuit. With team struggling with tyre temps, particularly in the final sector, it will be interesting to see who takes advantage of the clearer conditions.
Stroll and Kubica were the early runners to set a time while Hulkenberg went wide at turn 4 and caused front wing damage from what was a simple lock up. The Renault driver managed to get the car back to the pits but with suspension damage likely it seems qualifying found its first victim.
Ferrari were the first to see the pace with Vettel and Leclerc trading fastest time but the Red Bull of Verstappen found pace in the car to set a great time of 1.17.2 and assured his participation into Q2. Track evolution is paramount and the times were getting quicker and quicker, with Bottas heading to the top. Magnussen set a time within half a second, with his team mate Grosjean 4 tenths behind.
The Renault of Hulkenberg managed to get out and set a time only good enough for 15th. With the Renault team repairing the car within 7 minutes it was a fantastic job by the team who are in desperate need of a good performance. Hulkenberg went for a 2nd run and with Perez crossing the line last knocked the German into 16th.
Also of note was a brilliant lap by Brit George Russell to get within 4 tenths of 18th and a whopping 1.2 seconds ahead of team mate Kubica.
Out in Q1:
Hulkenberg, Stroll, Giovinazzi, Russell, Kubica
Q2 began with the big teams coming out firing to get a banker lap and ensure their participation in Q3. Bottas set the early pace with a 16.2 with Hamilton beating him by 2 tenths to take 16.0 and the fastest lap of the week so far and a new track record. A mistake by Leclerc meant the Frenchman could only post a 17.4 with Vettel posting a 16.6, still 6 tenths away from their rivals.
An impressive lap by Verstappen quelling Vettel cemented the Red Bull into Q3 and raised eyebrows as to whether the Dutchman could steal a podium in both qualifying and the race. Team mate Gasly managed to slot in 6th but was 0.6 seconds away from Verstappen and demonstrated the advantage Verstappen has over his team mate at the moment.
2 minutes before the chequered flag all the drivers bar Vettel and Verstappen stuck on the softs to ensure they make the top 10 shootout. Raikkonen was the first to fall while Sainz at this home GP fell into 11th after an error just before the chicane. Albon who has been impressive with stunning times all weekend fell in Q2 after running wide at turn 5, with his Toro Rosso team mate making Q3 with a fantastic 8th.
Out in Q2:
Norris, Albon, Sainz, Raikkonen, Perez
Q3 Top 10 Shootout
Coming into Q3 it was Hamilton vs Bottas for the pole, with each driver sharing track records in Q2. The two Ferraris followed in 3rd and 4th and were looking to hold off a rampant Verstappen who was closer to the Ferraris than they would like. Impressive Ricciardo made Q3 and would hope to finish as high as possible, but with Haas looking impressive, it would be unlikely to finish any higher than 8th.
Hamilton was the first of the big hitters to take his 1st flying lap and came in with a ordinary 1.16.0 while his team mate Bottas produced a wonderful 1.15.4 to take the track record and provisional pole. It was a truly brilliant 1st run from the Finn considering his adventures in the gravel in P3. Grosjean and Magnussen came in 6th and 7th behind Vettel and the two Red Bulls.
With the 2nd runs being prepared there was no time set by Leclerc who was hoping for a 1 lap wonder to push himself closer to his team mate and beat the Red Bulls. He came out and could only produced a lap slower than Verstappen that left him 5th.
Everyone came out for their 2nd run and with all the drivers pushing their car to the limit no one could improve their 1st run time. It was an absolutely stunning lap time and beating Hamilton by 0.6 seconds. Vettel took 3rd with Verstappen pipping the Germans team mate into 4th.
Gasly took 6th while the two Haas' took 7th and 8th ahead of the Toro Rosso of Kyvat in 9th and Ricciardo in 10th.