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Hamilton reaches milestone with F1 Spanish GP pole position but Vettel splits Mercedes
Posted By: Editor   |  13 May 2017   |  2:53 pm GMT  |  258 comments

Lewis Hamilton earned the 250th pole position for a British driver in Formula 1 but Sebastian Vettel split the two Mercedes, denying them a fifth consecutive qualifying one-two.

It was Hamilton’s third pole of the season and in Spain and his 64th career pole, meaning the next one puts him level with Ayrton Senna. The margin was tight, just 5/100ths of a second between the Mercedes and the Ferrari despite all the upgrades brought to both cars.

The star performer however, was Fernando Alonso, who was playing tennis during FP1 after another engine failure, but who managed to qualify in 7th place, despite the Honda powered McLaren being 12km/h slower on the straights than Esteban Ocon’s Force India, which he beat!

Russian GP winner Valtteri Bottas went for two flying laps, his first affected by a mistake on the final corner as he ran wide on the outlap; the second putting him 0.224 seconds behind Hamilton for third.

“Amazing job by the team. So proud that we can finally get back there with a better weekend so far. The first Q3 lap was very, very good…the last lap was so-so,” said Hamilton, who has been top of all sessions this weekend apart from FP3.

Vettel felt that he could have had pole, but for a mistake in the final corner. Ferrari couldn’t build on its one-two in FP3, a session this morning in which Kimi Raikkonen (fourth for the race) went fastest with a lap of 1m20.214s, 0.242s ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel’s SF70H sprung a water leak with 10 minutes remaining of practice and a new power unit, his third of the season, was installed before Q1.

Early in Q1 his engineer told him to switch the engine off urgently, but he questioned the call and his caution proved correct, as the programming programme resolved itself and he was able to continue with the session. A less experienced driver might have switched it off and lost everything. Vettel was full of praise for the mechanics, getting his car ready in a hurry, with Raikkonen’s mechanics helping out Vettel’s in a true team effort.

“They did an engine change sub-two hours. It’s a miracle that they got me out. It would’ve been nice to get them the pole,” said Vettel.

When asked if Mercedes’ high-profile upgrades for Spain had be matched, Vettel replied, “We have [upgrades] as well. Maybe less ‘bling’ than theirs!

“Some things you can see, some things you can’t see.”

Trouble wasn’t reserved exclusively for the Ferrari frontrunner with Russian GP winner Valtteri Bottas suffering electrical problems, having managed just seven laps in FP3 this morning.

The pair of Red Bulls somewhat closed the gap on the leaders, but Max Verstappen (fifth) was still more than half a second off pole – team-mate Daniel Ricciardo nearly another half-second slower.

Most importantly for the home fans, Fernando Alonso reached Q3 for the first time this season and will start seventh on the grid for McLaren. Yesterday, he retired to his hotel for a game of tennis after FP1’s engine failure.

His time of 1m21.048s was enough to beat Force India’s Sergio Perez (eighth) by 0.022s and Felipe Massa and Esteban Ocon, ninth and tenth respectively.

“Running in the ovals, maybe I learned how to go quicker on the straights as well. P7 is a gift, and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow from here.

“Everything went perfect today. Yesterday we had the potential and we saw the potential but we had strange sessions.

“Conditions are quite tricky, quite windy here but my car gave me the confidence I needed to push.

“To be P7, to be…around the grid, around the cars we should be fighting [against] for top positions will be a nice boost for the boys,” said a markedly more positive Alonso.

Williams’ Massa struggled in 14th place after Q1 but recovered to ninth.

Early on he said, “I’m struggling a lot to make the tyres work, very tricky. It’s fortunate [being in Q2] because it was pretty difficult.”

His team-mate, Lance Stroll, qualified 18th but more surprisingly, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer couldn’t build on his eighth-place FP2 finish, also failing to make it to Q2. Neither Renault made it to Q3 after a strong start to the weekend – Nico Hulkenberg will now start 13th.

Both Saubers made it to Q2, but no further. Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson qualified 15th and 16th, respectively.

“Our car wasn’t drivable today. Something is wrong with it 100%,” said Daniil Kvyat, who will start from the very back for Sunday’s race behind McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.

Prospects for the Race

The soft tyre is two seconds a lap faster than the medium, so the key is to spend as long as possible on the faster tyre in the race. It’s likely the medium will be used only for the last 20 laps or so.

There are different ways to do the race, with three stops the fastest, but that requires an overtake on a two stopping car in the final stint, which could be tough. The key to it will be the final corner.

We have seen cars struggle to exit it behind another and mount an attack – think Raikkonen on Verstappen last year in the closing stages – but with these higher downforce cars, some can follow out of that corner more effectively, among them the Ferrari. So an overtake, with DRS, could be more feasible.

But the Mercedes long run pace looked strong and their degradation on the soft tyre was low, so they are in a strong position. But Vettel may try an undercut at the pit stop if he is behind in the opening stint and may throw in a three stop plan to try to draw Mercedes into a race they don’t want to have.

There is likely to be a train formed behind Alonso, which will make the midfield race very tricky and will also open a gap for the front runners to pit into, making their lives easier and increasing the options.

Ocon had very low soft tyre degradation in the long runs and so is a good prospect for a strong result, but getting clear of the Alonso train will be key.

Have your say in the comment section below or on JA on F1’s Facebook Page.

Spanish Grand Prix, Grid:







Lewis Hamilton




Sebastian Vettel





Valtteri Bottas





Kimi Raikkonen





Max Verstappen

Red Bull




Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull




Fernando Alonso





Sergio Perez

Force India




Felipe Massa





Esteban Ocon

Force India




Kevin Magnussen





Carlos Sainz

Toro Rosso




Nico Hulkenberg





Romain Grosjean





Pascal Wehrlein





Marcus Ericsson





Jolyon Palmer





Lance Stroll





Stoffel Vandoorne





Daniil Kvyat

Toro Rosso



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You won’t pass mod here
Take hike you Sebee joker
Eff One poetry


ham44 looks miles better than the plain old 44.
hamilton is has long understood that that those who criticise him have a great affinity for his downfall.
he will soon take up contempry dance as part of his fitness regime to complement his music interests.


While 44 got pole using a new B specification PU, Vettel managed 2nd using his 1st 4 race weekends old ICE.


You’ve said this 3x now on this thread … you can say it 3 more times, and it still won’t make it true. Seb’s on his 2nd ICE, his 4th turbo, his 3rd MGU-H, his 2nd MGU-K, his 2nd Energy Store, and 2nd Control Electronics.

It’s all in the Event & Timing Info for the Spanish GP on the FIA’s website (I’ve posted the link above twice).


As I understand it Ferrari switched Seb to his 2nd PU for FP3.
After the water leak Ferrari build back to PU one for the remainder of Qul;ifying and the Race.
So he is indeed on PU2 but raced with PU1.


A feel-good story out of F1? It is possible if Alonso’s 7th place is good news to you, as it is to me.


Head line should read
The usual suspects up front ALONSO TAKES 7th.

He probably wont see the checked flag though 🙁


Good job by both Mercedes and Ferrari.
Alonso deserves commendation.
Is Max now the No.1 at RBR?
Whither do you go,Stroll and Palmer?
Could Grosjean stop complaining about other drivers?
Hoping for a Merc win tomorrow.


I think grabbing pole was imperative for Hamilton as it enables him to start from the side of the grid that’s on the racing line. As we saw in Sochi and Australia he struggles with running in dirty air moreso it would appear than the Ferrari’s and getting into turn one in the lead will go along way to him winning here.
If he doesn’t I wonder if we’ll find another kamikaze move made by Lewis into turn three like we did last year against Rosberg? My money says so!


another kamikaze move …

LOL – maybe a smaller hook, or perhaps a thinner line next time 🙂 You might catch something then.


@c63, He loves to bait us, which is strange because he seems to be more interested in lewis’s shortcomings than supporting his driver of choice. There is a word for such an individual, unfortunately it escapes me…


I wonder what moniker you used to post under….Ummmm


Well I caught KRB and I’m expecting an email in my inbox any second now from Tim so obviously the line wasn’t thin enough..


Sarsippious. The only email you will get from me will be the address to send my 100 gold bars…,


A kamikaze move? Rosberg was de-rating and so was 17 kph slower, so a move was totally on. The stewards report said that Hamilton’s attempt to pass was “reasonable” … not sure how that squares with your kamikaze characterization.

The incident concerned started when Car 6 dropped into an incorrect power mode, as set by the driver prior to the start. This created a significant power differential between Car 6 and Car 44 at the exit of Turn 3 coming onto the straight, resulting in as much as a 17 kph speed difference between the two cars on the straight. Car 6 moved to the right to defend his position, as is his right under Art 27.7 of the Sporting regulations. Simultaneously Car 44 as the significantly faster car with, at that time, apparent space on the inside, moved to make the pass. Art 27.7 requires the leading driver to leave room, if there is a “significant portion” of the car attempting to pass alongside. Car 44 had a portion of his front wing inside Car 6 small fractions of a second prior to Car 44 having to leave the right side of the track to avoid an initial collision, which may have led him to believe he had the right to space on the right. Once on the grass on the side of the track Car 44 was no longer in control of the situation.

Having heard extensively from both drivers and from the team, the Stewards determined that Car 6 had the right to make the maneuver that he did and that Car 44’s attempt to overtake was reasonable, and that the convergence of events led neither driver to be wholly or predominantly at fault, and therefore take no further action.

If that incident had been between two drivers from different teams, I’m pretty sure the result would’ve been quite different.


If that incident had been between two drivers from different teams, I’m pretty sure the result would’ve been quite different.

I’m sure if the roles were reversed Rosberg would’ve received a penalty. And its always the driver behind who has the onous on him not to hit the guy in front. Racing 101!


That’s not Racing 101 … recall Pastor not accelerating fully out of a corner at Singapore, and Button crashing into him. It was a move just one rung down from a brake test.

Rosberg knew he was in an incorrect setting, and that he’d be under attack. That he wasn’t proactive in his move should have been questioned.


Sarsippious. Oh go on then I will bite after all, but only to correct your poor knowledge of the rules. If s driver is defending on a straight he must leave a cars width at the side of the track if the overtaking car gets his front wing alongside the other guys rear wheel. I’m sure you saw the pics of Lewis being in exactly that position before Nico completed his swerve to the edge of the track and shoved Lewis off the circuit. It’s interesting that you talk about what would have happened if the two cars had been reversed, I think there would be no difference. Your analysis of Lewis’ culpability certainly wouldn’t alter would it….?


@JA. quote “There are different ways to do the race, but the Mercedes long run pace looked strong and the degradation on the soft was low”
Kindly explain this statement as it not correct as per cars speeds recorded today in all 3 sectors

Thanks you


In FP2 Mercedes had low deg figures on the long runs. So did Ferrari. Red Bull deg was higher.

It’s a choice between 2 stops and 3 stops today and some interesting scenarios possible

While we are communicating, please can I ask you to treat other posters here respectfully. We don’t tolerate rudeness or being high handed with people, which some of your posts can be. You are welcome here, but please respect the atmosphere of informed discussion and politeness, Thanks


Fantastic lap by Alonso
I repeat from previous posts:
Toto grow some balls and give us what we fans want!
Hamilton v Alonso part 2
Enough said


Very late coming to the party, but Hamilton was very fortunate insofar as Bottas was hampered by having to use an old PU. Wolff alluded to this in the post quali interview. Let’s hope that he can do something in the race. Vettel had the same problems in Sector three as Ricciardo. DR’s car handling through the chicane was woeful and Verstappen had a far better set up and quali lap. Well done. I think that they are even now on quali… Alonso’s lap was nothing short of stupendous and , in normal circumstances, it should put paid to all his detractors but i guess that they’ll still crap on and on. That was a statement to all, give me the car and i’ll give you the result. Speaks for itself. Ferrari are on thin ice at the moment, as they has great pace and their long runs were marginally better than Mercedes but all that means zip if they don’t get a super start. Hopefully we’ll see some real racing tomorrow instead of that Sochi rubbish that we were fed two weeks ago. Get in there fernando…


Kenneth, in the post race interview I saw with Toto he described Valterri as having “made two massive mistakes” on his lap and this is what cost him a chance of pole.


So I guess Hamilton was really, really unfortunate last year when he couldn’t compete in qualifying at CHN, RUS & BEL then, right kenneth? Bottas was able to compete in qualifying, and it’s not like he was faster than Hamilton on Friday, when they both were running the new engine.

How do you know that DR had a far better setup?


a far better setup?…

I’m pretty sure (i.e. certain) that I have seen Ken say something like – set up is down to the driver and any problems in this area reside with them. Or does he only say that when it’s a driver that he has taken an irrational dislike too?


C63, I think I know what Dan’s problems were in Barecelona, but I’m not saying…..


give me the car and i’ll give you the result…

I’m not having a dig, or trying to start an argument. But why do you think that none of the top teams appear to want him? If he is really such great shakes then why would they deny themselves his talent? There must be a reason. I’m sure you caught the post quali waffle on Sky and Brundle said that the best Alonso can hope for (assuming McHonda don’t come good) is a works Renault drive next season. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement from the people who really know – the teams.


It’s probably a milestone of sorts for the drivers that qualified from 16th – 20th too.

They are all being absolutely battered by their team mates that I cannot believe that any of them will be in F1 for 2018.

I’m all for blooding young talent but F1 is supposed to be, although I’ve never personally believed it, where the best drivers in the world race.

This isn’t a series for people to come in and learn their craft. They should come with that before they start. Feel for Vandorne though – he looked a real talent and definitely ready but maybe just not cut out for F1?


Wow Alonso is fantastic.Is he the best of all time ever no it is still my favourite Lewis.Get it in the Lewis


James can you tell us why Lewis was doing with all the head banging in the car


Its nice to see we have the game for championship going on!!!

Nice job FI showing they are the 4th team and even can fight for 3rd I believe so… Congrats to Checo and Ocon.

That guy Stroll is BS, wouldnt be good to trade him places with Alonso?


Great calmness by Vettel over the whole weekend. But Ferrari is at max. with their PU-config, while Mercedes is cruising. That will cost Vettel title #5.

With the same PU/engine status as Hamilton Bottas could have been easily on pole.

Jonathan Powell

Im a long term visitor to this site,enjoy reading the artciles and comments posted and have read James Allen’s books aswell.
I think this is the first time ive posted a comment after a qualifying as I just wanted to say what a stunning lap that was from Fernando Alonso,absolutely incredible!
Wish we could see him wrestle that Mclaren around Monaco but best of luck to him for the Indy 500.
One of the greatest ever drivers.


Well said

Fernando alonso is simply the best ever out there. Not just his lap alone today. He is super motivated and never fails to deliver


Great job by alonso.
If only honda could give him 80 -100 bhp more


Great qualifying overall, lots of excitement, was confident Vettel had pole until the final sector.
James, judging by sector times alone does it appear Ferrari’s car methodology has an advantage in the medium/high speed corners over the Mercedes but less in terms of mechanical grip? Or was this more of a setup/tyre based caveat?


I’m not really so cynical, but I do think Hamilton has been spared with Bottas’ issues all weekend and having to change to the older engine. He did not look far off at all and a newer engine and equal running I think has him in with a definite shot. Lucky Lewis.

Over here on broadcaster Fox Sports Asia they called Alonso’s performance as the qualifying lap of the season and that cements his legacy along with Senna and Giles Villeneuve as one of the rare drivers that can perform in a slow car. Quite effusive.. I think I’ll be amazed if Alonso finishes in the top 12 tomorrow.

Lastly… smh Palmer, smh Grosjean, smh Kvyat, smh Stroll and smh Van Doorne. Palmer in particular is just out of his league. How long will this continue I wonder. Renault are progressing well but they need a driver that can move that car along.


You discount all of Hamilton’s mechanical problems last season, but give us crybaby fantasies of what might have occurred had his teammate who you are desperate to beat him not had some mechanical glitches.Own goal comment. Yeah ,Rosberg will not be world champion if not for…….



Scratch that itch!


Lucky Lewis….

I appreciate that you aren’t a fan of Lewis (and that’s absolutely fine), but I do wonder whether you aren’t sometimes a little harsh with your assessments of his performance. He’s had 64 poles (so far) – that cannot possibly be all down to luck.
On your final paragraph, I agree that Palmer does not appear to be up to the job – I was at a Sky recording where his Dad was one of the guests and he was taking the time to ‘big up Joleyon’ – it was the only time he actually spoke to the audience other than when it was scripted. But Stroll!!! If ever money talked!


Lucky lewis


@C63 we are told all the time Nico got lucky with fewer technical issues.. now I can’t use the same logic? My comment was purely on this race so far. His poles.. most with the fastest car on the grid.. not anything amazing to me, honestly.


most with the fastest car on the grid…

How about the ones where he didn’t have the fastest car on the grid?


C63, he was just lucky….


Your hardly the only one CP!

Tornillo Amarillo

Team Williams had its problems, they asked in Q1 on the radio to kid Lance to improve 0.6 and he did exactly that! …only to finish P18 and out of qualify!!

Lance finished Q1 at only 0.273 of Massa (first time so close), but Lance in P18 and Massa in P14. So to pass to Q2 is key there.

Other teams like Toro Rosso and Renault had their share of problems too, the midfield is so tight.


Tennis works!

Joke aside…why Alonso is still my idol over his entire career and today’s result says it all. Keep going Alonso.


Today’s Alonso qualifying is comparable to Denmark European champions squad when its players were picked up from Mediterranean beaches to snatch the title in 1992. Amazing!



Can we see Red Bull going for the win in Monaco? Verstappen very quick through sector 3 in qualiy for Spanish GP.


Monaco should level the field out a little more.

I now would rather see how Fernando would go at Monaco rather than skipping it for oval track.


Lewis wasn’t slow in sector one got near him..



You are probably right but with Red Bull being quick than Ferrari we could see a Newey Car on the Podium at the Principality!


– Most fans will be relieved to see that the fears of Mercedes pulling out a gap over Ferrari with the upgrades package haven’t come true. Then again it might be different story in the race. I do hope they remain closely matched. All the ingredients so far point to an epic title battle.

– Vettel’s presence of mind in qualifying might have robbed us a few overtaking moves in the race, but it gave us a great qualifying battle.
Anyone of the top 3 drivers could have been on pole. Was surprised to see Bottas within 0.3 sec of his team-mate with the old engine.
Valtteri does seem to be fast enough to out-qualify Hamilton on a few occasions. What he seems to be lacking is putting together his A-game on a consistent basis and crucially being able to do that under pressure.

– Lap 1 (or perhaps even turn 1) might turn out to be crucial for the race result. There’s a chance, we might get to witness Alonso train in the race. But there’s an even better chance we will get to see Honda power unit go “kaput” in the race.


Considering, the gap from preseason, which according to lewis they couldn’t bridge. I’d say the upgrades work. Looking at the long runs, lewis had half a second on bottas and abit more on ferrari. Though vettel didn’t run the softs. Either way, exciting season ahead.


Alonso = DOTD !

Any points tomorrow => DOTW !


“Sebastian Vettel split the two Mercedes, denying them a fifth consecutive qualifying one-two”

I thought Vettel started from the front row three times in last four races.


I think meaning 5th at Spain?


“,,, in Spain.” was missing from the end of that sentence. Mercedes have had a 1-2 in the previous 4 years at the Spainish GP.


Missed that, thanks.


5th consecutive lockout at catalunya


5th straight front row lockout at Spain, was what they meant.

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