After a nail-biting qualifying session, Lewis Hamilton snatched his third pole position of the 2017 season, ahead of championship leader Sebastian Vettel in second and last time’s race winner, Valterri Bottas, who took third.
Vettel split the two Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers, as he finished 0.173 seconds ahead of the Finish driver after recovering from an early scare in Q1. After resetting his car he managed to avoid having to call his session to a close early on.
The battle behind the top three between Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen ended closer than anticipated, although arguably the Red Bull team still do not look strong enough to be challenging for a podium here. However, the young Dutchmen finished clearly ahead of his established team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, who seemed to struggle for pace which meant he could only finish sixth.
The real shock of the day was caused by McLaren-Honda Formula One Team’s Fernando Alonso, who not only managed to put his car into Q3 in comparison to Stoffel Vandoorne’s poor nineteenth but also outqualified both Sahara Force India F1 Team drivers and Williams Martini Racing’s Felipe Massa to finish in a superb seventh. The other driver for the team, Lance Stroll, had another poor performance that meant his qualifying ended in Q1, in eighteenth.
Outside of the top ten were both Renault Sport Formula 1 Team drivers, although once more this season, Britain’s Jolyon Palmer seemed to be struggling for pace and performance relative to Nico Hulkenberg. They finished seventeenth and thirteenth respectively. Both Sauber F1 Team cars also failed to make much of an impression, although Pascal Wehrlein managed to outqualify team mate Marcus Ericsson so that they will line up in fifteenth and sixteenth on the grid tomorrow.
The gap between the two Toro Rosso drivers was concerning, and although home favourite Carlos Sainz failed to make it into Q3, he qualified eight positions ahead of Daniil Kvyat in twelfth. Kvyat will be the last driver to line up on the grid in what has been a poor start to the season.
Whilst Hamilton is comfortably on pole, he hasn’t won the Spanish Grand Prix since 2014, as the previous two years have seen the victory go to either Nico Rosberg or Verstappen, after the infamous Mercedes crash last year. Will he be able to hold off the prancing horse of Vettel, or even Bottas, who started third on the grid last time in Russia, but after a flawless getaway, took his maiden win in F1.