Weather: wet 21°C
Tarmac: wet 24°C
Wind: 1 km/h NE
Pressure: 10019 mbar
Max Verstappen qualified as quickest for the 24th time today. The Red Bull driver scored pole position for tomorrow's 2023 Spanish Grand Prix for the first time. It was his fourth pole of the season for the Dutch driver and the 87th pole for Red Bull Racing.
Q1 Session Report
The first qualifying session (Q1) for the 2023 Spanish F1 Grand Prix unfolded in a way few could have predicted, leading to a thrilling sequence of events that kept us all at the edge of our seats.
The session kicked off under somewhat treacherous conditions, with light rain sporadically spattering the track. This created some early tension as teams had to decide between preserving their fresh sets of soft tires or taking a 'banker' lap early, fearing heavier rain later on. The added uncertainty only intensified the racing drama.
As we observed early on, one driver under considerable pressure was Logan Sargeant. Earlier in the day, he'd caused a red flag situation by skidding off at the final corner and landing in the gravel. His team had to pull out all the stops to get his car race-ready for qualifying. However, the question lingered: had this episode dented his confidence?
Several rookies caught our attention in this session, including Nyck de Vries, who had a robust Friday but encountered traffic issues. Despite some swirling rumours about his standing with the team, a strong performance this weekend could dispel doubts about his place in the paddock.
The biggest shock of the day was Charles Leclerc's early exit. The 'qualifying master', as many know him, just couldn't seem to pull anything out of his car this time. Despite using up two sets of tires, he couldn't improve his position and ended up eliminated in Q1. His teammate, Carlos Sainz, managed to scrape through, landing in a respectable fourth place.
The five drivers eliminated in Q1 were Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen, Alexander Albon, Charles Leclerc, and Logan Sargeant. Particularly surprising was Bottas' elimination, who was suspected of having floor damage due to a detour into the gravel.
Pierre Gasly had an eventful day, facing possible penalties for impeding Sainz and Verstappen. An investigation into these incidents by the FIA stewards will follow the session.
Q2 Session Report
In a roller-coaster of a qualifying session, the Spanish GP Q2 witnessed some unexpected results.
It started off with the big question - who will make the top 10? As the clock began ticking, the Red Bulls were the first to hit the track, with Perez on used tyres, joined by Sainz and Tsunoda, both also on used rubber. However, the AlphaTauri drivers seemed to have run out of fresh sets of soft tyres, a factor that could have played a part in their performance.
As the session progressed, tension built up with drivers such as Norris, Piastri, de Vries, Tsunoda, and Hulkenberg found themselves in danger of elimination. Norris managed a brilliant comeback, securing a second position for a brief moment, as the track conditions improved.
Hulkenberg, showing his skills and experience, improved to fourth on fresh soft tyres, pushing Zhou into the danger zone. Sainz, showcasing his form, elevated himself from tenth to second, pushing Perez precariously to the tenth spot.
With four minutes to go, Perez suffered a setback as he skidded across the gravel at Turn 5, not an ideal situation when the clock is ticking down. Despite having enough fuel for another go, Perez had to clear the dust off his tyres and start a new flying lap. Meanwhile, yellow flags waved, causing another spike in the drama.
The big shocker of the day was the elimination of Perez and Russell, who could only improve to P11. This was an unexpected blow for both drivers, with Perez voicing his disbelief over the team radio.
At the end of Q2, the five drivers who couldn't make it to Q3 were Perez, Russell, Zhou, de Vries, and Tsunoda. This round of qualifying had its fair share of unexpected twists, setting the stage for an exciting Spanish Grand Prix in 2023.
In the final analysis, it was Verstappen's 1m 12.760s that remained unbeaten, and drivers will be trying to top that in the final round of qualifying.
Eliminated in Q2
- de Vries
Q3 Session Report
In an enthralling qualifying session, Max Verstappen emerged triumphant as he comfortably secured pole for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix. The Dutchman chose caution over aggression, abandoning his last lap to ensure a risk-free performance throughout the weekend. Sharing the front row with Verstappen is Carlos Sainz, demonstrating his affinity for the Barcelona circuit.
Verstappen's performance in Q3 was a masterclass in precision and timing. After an outstanding lap in the early minutes, he managed to pull off a 1.384-second gap from Esteban Ocon, who was then leading with a 1m 13.656s. Verstappen's dominance was such that he chose to abort his final lap, allowing him to maintain his tyres and keep the pole position.
The middle of the pack saw intense action with Norris and Gasly securing the second-row slots. Both drivers put in impressive performances, with Norris even briefly occupying third place. Gasly, however, awaits two trips to the stewards that could potentially impact his position.
Ocon and Hulkenberg followed behind in the order. Hulkenberg, the lone ranger from Haas, clocked in a 1m 13.229s lap time, placing him temporarily third before the final onslaught of laps began.
Alonso made a spirited drive and momentarily went fourth before dropping back. Alonso's teammate Piastri, Stroll, and the rest of the top 10 showcased impressive performance in the session.
Anticipation Builds for Race Day
As the qualifying session drew to a close, anticipation for the main race is at an all-time high. Verstappen is positioned well for a victory, but the likes of Sainz, Norris, and Hamilton can never be ruled out. A mixed grid and the prospect of unpredictable strategies promise an exciting and fiercely competitive Spanish GP.
The countdown to the race is now on, and as the final setups and strategies are planned, only time will tell who will be victorious. Will Verstappen carry his pole position into a race win, or will we see an unexpected champion emerge on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya? Tune in to find out!
Last years pole time was a 1:18.750 min driven by Charles Leclerc with the Ferrari F1-75.
Quali Times 2023 Spanish F1 GP
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:13,615||1:12,760||1:12,272||20|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:13,766||1:13,082||1:12,994||23|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||1:13,747||1:13,098||1:13,507||18|
|11||11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||1:13,874||1:13,334||17|
|13||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||1:13,677||1:13,521||16|
|14||21||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri||1:13,581||1:14,083||16|
|16||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||1:13,977||10|
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