Spanish GP: Norris rocks Verstappen to take pole

Pole sitter Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL38 in qualifying parc ferme. 22.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
© XPB 

McLaren's Lando Norris snatched pole position by two hundredths of a second from Red Bull's Max Verstappen in the final moments of qualifying for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

Mercedes was on strong form to lock out the second row of the grid, Lewis Hamilton for once out-qualifying his team mate George Russell. Ferrari had to settle for third row spots for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Oscar Piastri had his lap deleted in Q3 for track limits and ran wide on his final run leaving him without a time. Sergio Perez made it through to the last round but a three-place grid penalty means he starts tomorrow's race from 11th.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya continued to bask in glorious summer sunshine and blue skies, somewhat cooler than Friday but no chance of rain as the drivers prepared to set the grid for Sunday. Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz had topped the three practice sessions, but Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc were equally well placed to bid for pole. Anything could happen in the next 60 minutes.

Q1: Hamilton pips Leclerc and Verstappen, but RB and Williams fall short

RB's Daniel Ricciardo set the early pace with a time of 1:13.771s on the soft tyres to put him ahead of Aston Martin's Lance Stroll. The real big hitters held back waiting for more rubber to go down before finally emerging from pit lane en masse and getting to work, meaning congestion instantly became a factor.

Sergio Perez took over at the top with a time of 1:13.090s but his Red Bull team mate soon took over with a new target of 1:12.306s. Norris was just eight thousandths of a second behind Verstappen, while Hamilton and Oscar Piastri were seven tenths behind the lead pair.

Leclerc had well and truly addressed his Friday issues and went 0.049s quicker than Verstappen, with Sainz making his mark in fourth just ahead of George Russell. Only two tenths covered the top five. Just as he had been the day before, Pierre Gasly also made his mark in P6 while a good effort from Nico Hulkenberg put the Haas into seventh ahead of Hamilton.

After everyone had posted a time, Ricciardo was driven down to P15. Those at risk of elimination were Alex Albon, Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant. All had the chance to make another run, Albon leading the way. He moved up to 12th with the benefit of a clear track ahead of him but almost at once he was pushed back into the bottom five as both Saubers moved up into safety.

The top five decided they didn't need to come back out, allowing Hamilton to vault to the top on a new set of softs. Fernando Alonso flirted with danger on the bubble, but the Aston's final push propelled him to the safety of the top ten. As the chequered flag came out and the dust settled, Magnussen failed to make the cut along with both RB cars (Tsunoda pipping Ricciardo) and the two Williams (Albon and Sargeant slowest of all).

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15.
22.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Qualifying Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

Q2: Verstappen on top, Hamilton and Russell best of the rest as Leclerc gambles

The first time of the second round was 1:13.630s set by Lance Stroll, nine tenths off the pace from Q1. Gasly's subsequent time was a second and a half quicker than Stroll and enough to put him ahead of Perez by 0.088s. Leclerc clocked in at the top but his time was pipped by Piastri who was in turn displaced from the top by Sainz.

Then it was Norris' turn to briefly go P1 by two thousandths before Verstappen moved the goal posts with a time of 1:11.653s, two tenths clear of the field. Russell slotted in to P6 but Hamilton was on a used set of softs and was left outside the top ten after his run.

After the half time internal, Stroll once again made use of the clear track for his second flier which put him on the bubble in tenth. Verstappen, Norris and Sainz had no need to come back out, but with two minutes on the clock Hamilton was back in business. He duly scrambled out of the elimination zone by going P2, Russell joining him in third.

Leclerc had also gambled on not needing to come back out, saving him a set of soft tyres. The risky Ferrari strategy was proved right despite late improvements from a number of drivers including both Alpines. Less fortunate was Alonso who ended up on the wrong side of the cut along with Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll and Zhou Guanyu.

(L to R): Second placed Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing with pole sitter Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren in qualifying parc ferme.
22.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Qualifying Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Q3: Norris edges Verstappen for pole with Hamilton and Russell on second row

Perez was first to hit the track for the final top ten pole shoot-out round with a banker lap of 1:13.061s on used softs. Verstappen was over a second quicker despite a little wobble on his lap, putting him ahead of Norris, Sainz and Leclerc. The Mercedes cars were last in business with Hamilton and Russell pushing their way to third and fourth (Russell complaining about Hamilton's warm-up procedure holding him up) but Piastri had his lap deleted for breaching track limits.

The initial flurry of flying laps complete, Perez was first to come back out for his last attempt. The pressure was also on Piastri to set a time, and it took its toll: the McLaren ran wide into the gravel, wrecking any chance of a fast time.

His team mate fared better, and Norris edged two hundredths ahead of Verstappen for pole as Hamilton finally got one over Russell in qualifying with P3 on the grid for Sunday. The two Ferraris were left to share the third row, with Gasly pipping Perez. The penalty-hit Red Bull will start tomorrow's race from 11th promoting Ocon, Piastri and Alonso into the top ten.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter