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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton leads Mercedes Spanish F1 GP front-row lockout
Posted By: Editor   |  12 May 2018   |  4:17 pm GMT  |  65 comments

Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton narrowly beat team-mate Valtteri Bottas to pole position at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to give Mercedes their first front-row lockout of the season.

The reigning world champion edged ahead of Bottas by just 0.04 of a second with his second flying lap and was able to nullify the threat from the Ferraris, who gambled on being able to extract more time from the soft tyres.

Changes to the tyres and the track surface have kept the drivers on their toes this weekend, with drivers struggling to eke out performance on the super soft tyre over an entire lap, some took a chance on being able to improve on the soft, a slightly harder compound.

Both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen improved their times by using the soft tyre to finish third and fourth, as did Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo (6th), but none were able to challenge the Mercedes drivers.

Max Verstappen’s preferred to use the super soft tyre for his qualifying lap but, like almost all of the top ten, he will start the race on the soft tyre.

Speaking after the session, the Dutchman didn’t believe the super soft tyre would see much action in the race.

“At turn one I had a moment. The gap is maybe a little bit bigger than it should be, but the top three was not possible today,” summarised Verstappen.

“I still don’t know which is the fastest tyre to be honest. I chose super soft, Daniel went on the soft. It was tricky.

“I don’t think many people will choose the super soft because over one lap, you can maybe go a bit faster, but in the longer runs they will just fall apart. So, I think a lot of people will chose the soft and the medium.”

Qualifying Session 1

Brendon Hartley was out of qualifying before the session had even begun. In the final moments of the final free practice session, the Toro Rosso driver placed half-a-wheel onto grass on the approach to turn nine, spinning his car and crashing violently into the barrier.

Toro Rosso were unable to repair the car in time for qualifying, meaning Hartley will start the race from the back of the grid.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg did participate in the session but, thanks to a brief delay due to a fuel pressure issue, he was left with one final flying lap.

However, he was unable to convert his one chance to progress into Q2, finishing down in sixteenth place and ending his 59-race run without being eliminated in Q1, which was the longest streak on the grid until today.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson failed to make it through to the second part of qualifying, as did the Williams pair of Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll, with the latter spinning into the gravel trap on the exit of turn twelve in the final moments of Q1.

Qualifying Session 2

With the soft tyre looking to be the much-preferred compound to start the race, many drivers elected to use it to set their Q2 time.

The Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers easily progressed on the soft tyre, whilst the two Haas drivers of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean also made it through to Q3 on softs, as did Renault’s Carlos Sainz.

Fernando Alonso was the only driver to make it through to Q3 whilst using the super soft tyre, meaning he will be the only driver in the top ten to start the race on that compound.

McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne almost made the Q3 cut on the soft tyre, but fell agonisingly short in eleventh, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.

Force India didn’t properly threaten the top ten, with Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finishing thirteenth and fifteenth, separated by the Sauber of Charles Leclerc.

Qualifying Session 3

After all drivers set their first flying laps on the fastest tyre, many drivers were questioning the super soft tyre’s ability to last for an entire qualifying lap, so a few drivers chose to set their second flying lap on the soft compound tyre.

The switch to the soft tyre resulted in improvements for many, with Vettel, Raikkonen and Ricciardo all reducing their lap times.

However, the second flying laps for Hamilton and Bottas were set on the super soft tyres, with the Mercedes pair managing to keep enough life in the tyres over the course of their laps to secure a one-two result, with Hamilton edging Bottas by 0.04 of a second.

Vettel and Raikkonen took an all-Ferrari second row, whilst the two Red Bulls were separated by just two thousandths of a second, with Verstappen’s super soft tyre run marginally faster than Ricciardo’s soft tyre effort.

Magnussen ended the hour as the fastest of the midfield by taking seventh place for Haas, ahead of Alonso – who secured McLaren’s best qualifying result of the season – Sainz and Grosjean.

All images: Motorsport Images

Who do you think will win the Spanish Grand Prix? Leave your comments in the section below.

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m16.173s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m16.213s 0.040s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m16.305s 0.132s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m16.612s 0.439s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m16.816s 0.643s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m16.818s 0.645s
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m17.676s 1.445s
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m17.721s 1.526s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m17.790s 1.548s
10 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m17.835s 1.617s
11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m18.323s 2.150s
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m18.463s 2.290s
13 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m18.696s 2.523s
14 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m18.910s 2.737s
15 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m19.098s 2.925s
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m18.923s 2.750s
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m19.493s 3.320s
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m19.695s 3.522s
19 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m20.225s 4.052s
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda No Time

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What I think and what actually happens are usually two different outcomes – the only thing I was correct about so far is that Liberty are a mess – they have no clue – and yes we finally got the “turn up the volume” crap – thank you very much for proving the point.

one thing that is for sure is that Ric has cemented the fact that no top tier team will touch him with his ” its never my fault ” attitude… yah , I mean yah….

I don’t doubt his talent but there is more a team of that calibre would want to see upstairs.

You think Merc needs another one ? No thanks and Ferrari are not about to venture there as well when they finally have some young talent in the backdrop.

If he’s not careful he will end up like Alonso ( without a WCT) .

Finally – Toro Rosso really need to replace Hartley, its just not working. Pascal would be a good move.


Interesting how 4mm difference on tyre tread changes everything.




Let’s also hope RB let’s their drivers racing eatch other like before, as long as there is no changing lines from MV this time around. Everybody will probably watch MV close to see what he comes up with. Mad shunts or clean racing, I believe it’s time for him to step up or he might be loosing that hard promoted “golden boy” tag, and slide towards Crashtappen, the Swerving boy or Meandering Max, whatever sticks, some of it already starts to fit. Maldonado also was a very talented boy…


O,5s between the 2 first rows. God enough to make it a good fight, and the RB close too in row 3. But with no overtaking we’ll have to rely on unexpected shunts in the race or strat to get anything slightly exiting to happen. Very close between Bottas and Ham, As well as Seb and Kimi. Let’s just hope thy can race and all get good strategy.


Nothing surprising in this quali result.

The Mercs enjoyed the cooler temperatures, the Ferraris turned up the PUs enough to comfortably leap-frog the lads from the “energy station” at the 11th hour and the Red Bulls simply rolled in behind the usual suspects with their tails planted firmly between their legs.

All we can hope for to spice up the race now is for Mad Max to do a text book banzai late brake job in the first corner on Kimi and Seb and he takes one or both out. Then we can watch with the anticipation of Daniel having a fair old crack at them both over the race distance – because I don’t believe the Ferraris race pace (tyres) will be equal to the Merc’s if the weather stays as it is. And we all know Dan will definitely “throw it up the inside” of the Mercs if he can get within a bull’s roar of them in the DRS zone on the pit straight.

I thought the most interesting developments over the first 2 days of the weekend were Ricci’s defiant, yet eloquently disguised, explaination of what transpired in Baku – and his obvious disdain for the .6 second gap to Lewis’ pole time even though they threw everything at them … again!

Dan’s making all the right noises to help me assume he is not long for the fizzy drinks team.

With Bottas continuing to succeed and show his true worth, there’s really only one place Dan can go – and it’s got a very bright red tinge to it.

Here’s hoping – because after HornySpice’s pathetic managerial decision to allow Max to wreck their race in Baku AND the blame being thrown over them both like a fire blanket in a bid to take the heat off the kamikaze kid, the situation as to who has the favouritism at RBR has become undeniably and disgustingly obvious. So much so, the kid made it clear in his interviews that he simply refuses to believe he can do any wrong … no matter how many hundreds of millions of fans and pundits KNOW he is an accident constantly waiting to unfold.

We only have to wait a few laps in every race for that to become a reality.


@ Jack…Good post. i read this morning that Verstappen has said that he will not be changing anything. That’s who he is, that’s how he drives and he won’t do anything different. Just bluster and flim flam or reality? Who knows? My guess is that he will rein it in a bit and hopefully he and Ricciardo will get to duel hard but fairly unlike the Baku facade. It’s interesting that there have been no team radio comments made public and a complete silence covering the Baku race has been implemented. Now why would that be?


@kenneth … thanks mate.

Damn, Max nearly did it again and proved me correct! He was a puffteenth away needing a new front wing and taking out the Williams – which most likely would have called for a 3 place grid penalty in Monaco.

Oh hang on … stupid me, it’s Max … he would have blamed Stroll for being too slow and got away with it … AGAIN!!!


Bottas to get his first win of the season *fingers crossed*


What’s the point of commenting on something that happened on Saturday, when they don’t come on the site til Sunday. The race is starting soon😊😉


Williams on fire you go girl


Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo.

Verstappen will jump Kimi, then clash with Vettel.

Ricciardo will pass Kimi in the last few laps.

Sainz 4th.


Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen.

Ricciardo will be able to jump Seb, then foolishly spin and lose half a minute.

Max will pass Vettel and hold him at bay in the last few laps.

Vettel 4th.

… when will you guys stop?


Alas poor Williams, it doesn’t get any better. With Massa out there in Spain they should offer him a bag of money to do two half days at next weeks test. As he probably had a good understanding of what last year’s car could do he might be able to tell them what is wrong with this years. Lowe says that he knows what is wrong but he is not convincing me and goodness knows what Claire and Frank think!


Can anyone seriously doubt that with Kubica in the car every race Williams would be starting to sort out their problems ? It’s the blind leading the blind.


Really interesting footage on of comparison laps between MV & DR.

JA, is MV with a fresher engine? As he made all his 2 thousandths on the straights only. DR overtakes him on final corner and then goes backwards on the straight. It’s only 2 thousandths but the graphic with the footage is pretty clear.

Ricciardo Aficionado

Max has had the “two tenths” engine mode for quite a while now…

That’s ok, he needs it.


You do know that how you exit a corner also determines how fast you can accelerate too don’t you? It’s not all about engine power.


I think Brendon Hartley is out of his depth in F1. If he survives this season, I can’t see him getting seat next year. Whereas, Valtteri Bottas should be safe at Mercedes.


I would not go as far as to say that he is out of his depth as he is an experienced racer but it did not make a lot of sense to me that they dropped Kvyat who had good F1 experience and proven speed.


Pirelli change their tyre tread and Merc lock out the front row. Shouldn’t be allowed. Suspicious to say the least.


Hamilton was struggling in ALL races so far with the tyres and the car. He had not A SINGLE race including Baku, without any mistakes. In Bahrain also in Q3.

Let’s see how Brundle and co. will twist this when Mercedes turns on the engine plus new tyres…


Fedor, Australia?


Hamilton was pretty faultless in Australia, but I agree with the other races.


It’s game on tomorrow. Bottas nipping at Ham heels, Vettel only missing out due to a mistake so will be very much in the hunt and the Bulls only seperated by 0.002s and will be gunning for it. It’s gonna a an epic first 2 laps for sure. Well done Alonso and Mag…Didn’t expect that performance to be honest!


Now that was quite exciting😊. Hopefully another good race tomorrow.

McLaren disappoint again. Ok, they got one car into Q3, but it was just by the skin of their teeth😳.

Glad Ferrari had the halo wing concept banned for the next race. It looked absolutely ridiculous!…..but I suppose it fits well with the actual halo concept too.


@ James K…I’m rather disgusted with the FIA and Charlie Whiting. If the new mirrors are deemed to be illegal and they’ve been available for scrutiny since Thursday/Friday then how can they be allowed to race tonight? They should’ve been told to remove them irrespective of the after effect. They are either illegal now or they are not!!! They just can’t ‘become’ illegal after the race can they?.



It’s not the actual mirrors that they’ve said are wrong, it’s the winglets above them. It was apparently to problematic for Ferrari to change them back!

But totally agree with you👍

So the FIA have deemed them illegal, what happens if Ferrari win this race then?

Strange procedures at the FIA me thinks🤔


Hamilton nailed the lap where the Merc is obviously the best car to be in. Now will VB be sacrificed to help Hamilton or will he be allowed to compete . We could be in for an exciting race if team orders allow it.

Felix Taggert

Very strange quali session especially as Ferrari did not show up despite their performance in Q2.

Anyways my guy did it. With no mistakes nd a good strategy Lewis will win.

Good job by Bottas. He has certainly upped his gear.

Max oh Max… hopefully he will ave a clean race for a change

Garrett Bruce

Looking at the progression over the year so far, it would seem that LH is being pushed a little more all the time. Wonder how that’s going to look for the balance of the year.

Here’s hoping that Hartley will be developing some better luck during the rest of this event and on into the season. Nice to see Williams moving back up the order, let’s hope that continues apace and just maybe some of the input from Kubica is helping everyone out, suppose?


Also, Bottas is hammering the nail into Ricciardo’s Mercedes chances – looks like it’s Ferrari or bust for everyone’s favourite current Australian F1 driver.


Yes, Ricciardo in in a very curious position of being the best driver available but short of a big retirement has very limited options and it is far from certain if Ferrari will not give Kimi another year which is prpbably what Vettel would prefer. Marchionne might have a different view of course but may still go with Sebs wishes.


Like Andrew M said, Bottas is driving himself into a contract extension. Of course it’s a “what have you done for me lately?” sport & business, so it all could change. If he keeps this trajectory, he will be re-signed. Ricciardo should try everything he can to get into the Ferrari. Ferrari wouldn’t hinder him in favour of Vettel, or they shouldn’t.


For anyone that cares about the OTT service online…

I signed up the other day and paid my $90 for the next 12 months.

I tried to watch the second half of qualifying today, but the service was shocking. It was way worse than pirate streaming (so I’m told 😜): of the 35 minutes or so I attempted to watch, I got about ten minutes of choppy/buffering video. Most of the time it was just hunting for the feed with the Pirelli tire spinning its wheel. When. The video did display, the quality was mostly worse than the pirate feeds.

Given that we hadn’t heard about any beta testing I’m absolutely not surprised it was this bad.

On the upside, i did some grumbling and got an email back very shortly after qualifying from the F1 people who promised a partial refund to the afflicted.


Indeed. I just subscribed today, and that adaptative streaming quality is horrible. Pirate sites currently offer a better experience, it’s quite shocking to say the least.


Good stuff, close at the top again, the expected Ferrari threat never really materialised did it?


Surely not, it was mitigated in the back rooms with the tire manipulation.


So strange that the supersoft and soft were pretty much even in terms of laptime. These tires are still too hard, and too sensitive to temperature changes. They are a MAJOR factor in the championship, when as the sole supplier they should be a fairly benign one. Bridgestone were never such a factor when they were the sole supplier.

Nice pole for Hamilton … it’s been awhile! As ever though, it just buys you 4 metres.

✔ Qualifying

❓ Start

❓ Opening laps

❓ Race pace

❓ Avoid contact from errant drivers

❓ Pit stops

❓ Race strategy

❓ Weather-related calls

❓ Reliability

Vettel’s 3rd, which means he’s still in for the win tomorrow. The Mercedes need to get off the line nicely, work together and keep Vettel in 3rd.

Will a one stop S-M be the quickest race? I don’t know. I think Mercedes had enough degradation in the long runs that S-M-S is likely the route they’ll take.

If Max crashes again in this race, then what? He needs a simple, clean race more than anyone right now.


I agree, the tyres, and tyre ‘temperatures’ are playing far too big a role. The teams spend zillions on the cars but in reality getting the tyres working remains the golden ticket.

Just make them easy for all the teams to understand with very large operating windows.



Forgot to mention the dodgy use by the American Owners to bring in Safety Car and VSC alerts, for the slightest rumble on track too.

Allowing leaders to pass pitlane before actioning the yellow lights.


Mercedes had enough to hold off Vettel, but looking at the Mercedes’ onboard both Hamilton and Bottas were pretty much on the limit. It’s actually a larger margin than Hamilton had over Vettel last year, but having Bottas alongside should help protect him into the lead and stop Vettel getting the jump. Vettel can still win but it’s a long shot from 3rd.

The grid was largely as expected, congrats to Magnussen for snagging the coveted best of the rest slot. Red Bull’s strategy with Ricciardo was a bit mystifying…

I know Williams is a poor car, probably the worst all round, but Stroll has to do better, he’s not a rookie anymore and he’s looked hapless all through practice and qualifying.


did he break the pole record yet again?

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