Barcelona offered one of the greatest stories of recent years in 2016, as Max Verstappen became the youngest race winner in F1 history. 2017, it seems, has a lot to live up to. Qualifying got underway in the warmth of summer in Catalunya. Session 1 saw a spin for Romain Grosjean early on in turn 13. While his car was unaffected, he had to start again and did just enough to escape the drop and into Q2. Pascal Wehrlein also managed to advance through. Of those who failed to advanced, the bottom 3 will surely be the most disappointed. In P20 was Kvyat’s Torro Rosso, sitting just behind the struggling McLaren of Vandoorne in P19. Williams’ Lance Stroll failed to impress, qualifying a measly 18th. Jolyon Palmer improved on his qualifying in Russia, but still only managed P17. Marcus Ericsson was unfortunate not to advance, as Perez pushed him into the drop and P16 for the Swede.
Session 2 was uneventful until the last few minutes. Romain Grosjean was set to escape the drop, but he pulled to a halt in the last few corners, beating only the Sauber of Wehrlein, who sits in P15 behind the Frenchman. Nico Hulkenberg sits in 13th, after being pushed down by Alonso and his ex-teammate Sergio Perez. Local lad Carlos Sainz showed decent pace and will start from 12th on the grid. Kevin Magnussen rounded off the bottom 10 in 11th place.
As Q2 drew to a close, less than 1 tenth separated Hamilton in P1 from Vettel in P3, with Bottas sat just in between. The main story heading into Q3 was Fernando Alonso, giving his loyal fans something to cheer about after an abysmal Friday practice. It was Esteban Ocon who’ll start in P10, behind Felipe Massa and his Force India teammate Perez in 8th. 7th was Fernando Alonso, with the McLaren behaving well for a change in the Spanish sun. When it came to the Red Bull battle, Verstappen trumped Ricciardo, in P5 and P6 respectively. Kimi Raikkonen will start in P4, directly behind his teammate, Vettel, in P2. On the left hand side of the grid, Bottas will start behind Hamilton, who claims his 64th career pole.
Image: Mercedes AMG F1 Team