Lewis narrowly beat Valtteri to pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix, securing the team’s first front row lockout of the season.
- The final, 60-minute practice session of the weekend took place under cloudy skies, with the windy conditions of Friday continuing on Saturday morning.
- Lewis put in the quickest time of FP3 with a 1:17.281 on the SuperSoft tyre, the best of his 14 laps in the session.
- Valtteri was just 0.013 seconds behind with his best SuperSoft lap, a 1:17.294. He completed 19 laps during the session.
- Conditions turned overcast and temperatures dropped for qualifying at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the wind picking up pace too.
- Both drivers progressed through to Q3, setting their quickest Q2 times on the Soft tyre – which is what they will start the Spanish GP on.
- The top 10 shootout was intense, but Lewis just did enough on his last SuperSoft run to snatch pole position.
- His 1:16.173 is a new track record in Barcelona, securing the Brit his 74th career pole in F1.
- Valtteri was just 0.040 seconds behind his team-mate and completes the front row.
What Did We Learn?
It was a close and hard-fought battle in qualifying and we’re expecting a similarly tough fight in the race.
“We saw great laps from both of our drivers today and it's very satisfying for the whole team to secure our first front row of the year,” explained Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director.
“We had expected conditions to cool today but hadn't expected the track to get quite as cold as it did. The car was working nicely during the final practice session and the drivers were able to evaluate the overnight changes and get a feel for the car on low fuel.
“By qualifying, the temperatures were not dissimilar to those from the final winter test and getting the most out of the rubber was not easy. We'd planned to try and get through Q2 on the soft tyre but it seemed like the entire top ten had the same idea.
“In these conditions, it was really hard to work out which was the faster tyre. We had the option of going on SuperSoft or Soft tyres for the final run but decided to stick with the Super as we had a good balance in the first session and it seemed a little easier to extract the grip on that compound.
“The final moments of qualifying were fairly intense as we waited to see whether Riccardo or the pair of Ferraris could improve on their time.
“It's useful to start this race with both cars on the front row as it's a very long run down to Turn One. We're expecting some overnight rain, which will cause the track to reset, together with cooler conditions than those we experienced on Friday.
“It's going to be a very difficult race to win tomorrow, given the range of strategies that could come into play, but we have had a good car in all the races this year and will be doing everything we can to turn the front row into a double podium.”
What We’re Saying
Lewis: “The team has been working so hard in the last weeks to improve our performance so I must say a big thank you to everybody here and back at the factory.
“They have kept their heads down and been really open-minded to find new ways to try and improve; it's been great to be part of and that's what it takes to be a winning team.
“It was a very close qualifying session today and it took everything we've got to take pole. Ferrari were sandbagging until this afternoon and Valtteri has been driving exceptionally well; it's fantastic for the team to get the front row and I know everyone will be very happy.
“Qualifying has always been a strength for me but I've had some tricky sessions since Melbourne, so I'm pleased to be back in a good position with it.
“It has been a constant learning process with the tyres, getting them working in a very narrow window, but today we had them working. There is still lots of work to do tomorrow but this is a good way to start the weekend.”
Valtteri: “Qualifying was good for me but not quite perfect - and it ended up very close on the final times. But for us as a team this is a perfect result with two cars on the front row.
“I had a mistake on the first run in Q3, which meant I only had one proper shot at it - that was a good run and, of course, if you do the laps again then you can always find something more.
“It was good to work the SuperSoft tyre a bit better today, it felt like a better tyre for us so we have made some good progress in that area.
“I am feeling really good in the car at the moment and, looking to tomorrow, I think we will be strong on race pace.
“I have some catching up to do overall in terms of the points, so I will be aiming to do as well as I can.”
Toto: “That was a fantastic qualifying session from both drivers and from the team as a whole - and a well-deserved front row.
“The aerodynamic upgrades we brought to this race are working well and the competition between Lewis and Valtteri is incredibly close - and we can feel that driving us forward at each race weekend.
“Although the gaps in practice looked to be in our favour, we knew that things would close up in qualifying and that proved to be the case. But the guys stayed calm, made the right calls and delivered when it mattered.
“Now, we need to turn our attention to the race and the challenges it brings; on the long runs yesterday, Ferrari were very competitive and Red Bull particularly strong, so we know it will be a hard-fought Grand Prix.
“First, we need to win the start and maintain our positions - and then maximise our opportunities tomorrow as they come.”