+0.036 seconds is all that was between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen during qualifying for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix. The fight between the two drivers and between Red Bull and Mercedes looks to be extremely close. This is how qualifying for the fourth round of the Formula One season panned out around the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
In the very first session, Lando Norris topped the timing sheet with Red Bull, Mercedes and even Ferrari looking strong this weekend. But the bottom five included Yuki Tsunoda, Kimi Raikkonen, Mick Schumacher, Nicolas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin. With these five drivers out of the rest of qualifying, the back of the grid from 16th to 20th places was decided in that order.
In Q2, Verstappen was half a second clear of Bottas as he topped the charts. Hamilton’s time was seventh tents slower, meaning he was third fastest. On their second run, Bottas and Hamilton both improved their times, yet were unable to better Verstappen’s time. But the bottom five who didn’t qualify into Q3 were Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Sebastian Vettel, Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell. They will make up the grid between 11th to 15th respectively.
When the big guns finally came out in Q3, Hamilton was fastest on his first run. But Verstappen was just +0.036 slower and Bottas another tenth behind. But the top ten on the grid was finally decided on their second runs. This time around none of the three leading drivers could improve their times. Meaning, Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th career pole position. Verstappen will start from second for Red Bull and Bottas behind him in third.
Bottas will have Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari for company, on the second row at the start of the race. Behind them will be Esteban Ocon in the Alpine in fifth with the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz starting from sixth on the grid. Daniel Ricciardo in the McLaren out-qualified his teammate and will start from seventh. The Red Bull of Sergio Perez split the McLarens as Norris will start from ninth ahead of the other Alpine of Fernando Alonso in 10th.
While the fight may be close, 22 out of the last 30 grands prix on this track were won from pole position. Overtaking has proven to be difficult in the past. But will Hamilton extend his championship lead with a win? or can Verstappen beat him this time around? The question will be answered tomorrow on Raceday.
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