Rows two and three for Bulls in Barcelona

Highlights

  • Max matched his 2016 best starting slot with P4.
  • Max splits Ferraris with Vettel in P3, Leclerc in P5.
  • Pierre will start from P6 for the second time this season after China.
  • Bottas on pole ahead of Hamilton.

Max will start the Spanish Grand Prix from row two of the grid after matching his best ever qualifying performance in Barcelona to claim fourth place and split the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc. Pierre matched his best starting position of the season by claiming sixth place in the session.

In the opening session, Max opened his account in fine style by jumping ahead of early table toppers Vettel and Leclerc to claim P1 with a lap of 1:17.244. Pierre, meanwhile, took P4 with his opening time of 1:17.865. 

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas then moved to the top of the order with a lap of 1:17.175, but Max’s time was good enough to hold onto P2 until the flag. Pierre, meanwhile slid to P7 as more times flowed in, but the Team deemed his time good enough to make the Q2 and so, like Max, he stayed in the garage as the final runs started. 

In danger as those final laps began were Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi in P16 followed by team-mate Kimi Räikkönen, and the Williams cars of George Russell and Robert Kubica. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, meanwhile, had not set a time after an early off at Turn 4 that damaged his front wing and kept him out of action until the final runs. 

Even then, the German failed to find the pace necessary to make it through to Q2. To add to his misery, he was edged out of the session by team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. The gap between the Renault duo was just 0.019s. Eliminated behind Hulkenberg were 17th-placed Lance Stroll of Racing Point, Giovinazzi, Russell and Kubica.

In Q2 it was Hamilton who initially stretched away from the chasing pack, with the Mercedes driver smashing through the track record to post a lap of 1:16.038. That put him a little over two tenths of a second ahead of Bottas, with Vettel third. 

Max slotted into fourth place with a time of 1:16.726, just 0.059s behind Vettel, while Pierre put in a good opener of 1:17.275 to claim fifth spot in front of Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. 

This time ahead of the final runs, the drop zone candidates were Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, McLaren’s Lando Norris, the second Toro of Daniil Kvyat and Alfa Romeo’s Räikkönen.

Only Kvyat was able to find the pace necessary to escape that grouping, with the Russian posting a good lap of 1:17.243 to climb to P8 ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo. 

Kvyat’s rise meant a drop-zone spot opened and that was taken by local hero Carlos Sainz. The McLaren driver exited in P13 behind Norris and Albon, but ahead of Räikkönen and Perez. 

At the top in Q2, Hamilton’s track record looked secure going into the final runs, but team-mate Bottas somehow found an extra reserve of pace to edge his team-mate and he took top spot with a time of 1:15.924. Hamilton was second ahead of the Ferraris of Vettel and Leclerc. Max remained in P5 ahead of Pierre in P10 with Grosjean sixth. 

And Bottas was able to extract even more from his car in Q3. Hamilton was first across the line but the defending champion’s lap was a scruffy one and he stopped the clock at 1:16.040. Bottas, though, was flying and he crossed the line a massive six tenths of a second clear of Hamilton, with Vettel third.  

Max, meanwhile, cut almost four tenths of a second off his Q2 best and claimed P4 with a lap of 1:16.357. Pierre also improved on his Q2 time, taking P5 with a lap of 1:16.708.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was forced to sit out the first runs as his team worked on the floor of his car. It might have been expected that the Monegasque driver would find his way into the top four, but Leclerc wasn’t able to find the pace and despite two attempts he was unable to beat Max’s time. 

The Ferrari driver’s 1:16.588 was good enough to split the Red Bulls, however and Pierre ended the session in P6. He will line up ahead of Grosjean, with Magnussen eighth ahead of Kvyat and Ricciardo. 

Quali Stats:

4 – Fourth in qualifying equals Max’s best starting position at the Spanish Grand Prix. The last time the Dutchman started fourth in Barcelona, in 2016, he won the race. 

6 – Sixth place in qualifying for Pierre is six places higher than he achieved in his only other qualifying session here, last year for Toro Rosso.


Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying Top 10:

1. Valtteri Bottas
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Sebastian Vettel
4. MAX VERSTAPPEN
5. Charles Leclerc
6. PIERRE GASLY
7. Romain Grosjean
8. Kevin Magnussen
9. Daniil Kvyat
10. Daniel Ricciardo