Lewis Hamilton qualified P5 and George Russell P12 for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix.
Minor overnight changes and cooler conditions improved the pace of the W14 in FP3, with both drivers happier with the overall balance; Lewis finished the session P3 with George P6.
Qualifying proved a more challenging affair, with both drivers advancing from Q1 on their final efforts as the track gripped up following rain earlier in the day.
In Q2, a miscommunication between the Team saw Lewis and George collide when starting their final efforts. An earlier lap saw Lewis progress to Q3 but George was knocked out in P12.
In the final part of qualifying, Lewis sat second fastest after the first run on used tyres but dropped to P5 on his final new tyre run, less than a tenth shy of P2.
Saturday Report: 2023 Spanish GP
Flashes of promise on Saturday in Barcelona
Free Practice 3
I was a little bit surprised to see us so far up today and ultimately competing for the front-row of the grid. We did some great work overnight with our analysis of yesterday; we all did a lot of work trying to figure out where we could find more lap time. I knew when I woke up this morning that I was on a mission, although I didn’t expect we would be fighting for P2. On my final lap, I think I was on the front-row all the way until turn 10. I got on the power and the car just snapped into oversteer; I will have to check but I think that’s where I lost two tenths. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed driving the car today and I’m really encouraged to see where it is at. A big thank you to everyone at the factory as it shows we are progressing.
It was an odd qualifying session today. It was clearly tricky for everyone out there and it was quite a mixed-up order. Straight out of the box, I felt like I had no grip from the tyres, and I was really struggling with the car. It was starting to bounce a lot in the high-speed turns so I couldn’t go flat out through corners we were able to in FP3. I wasn’t surprised to be knocked out in Q2 because the car was off the pace. I didn’t have a good feeling with it so it’s disappointing.
I’m not too sure what happened in the incident with Lewis. It was all quite surprising. I was starting my push lap and getting the slipstream from Sainz ahead. Next thing I know Lewis was alongside me. We’re fortunate nothing more serious happened and it was clearly a big miscommunication from all of us in the Team. It didn’t contribute to the lack of pace though and that was the main problem for me. We’re starting quite a few positions lower than we should be, but I’m sure tomorrow will be a better day.
Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO
I think we have more potential in the car that we couldn’t unlock today. We had a good car in Q1, at least with Lewis, and both drivers were happy in FP3. I think we had everything today to fight for the front two rows of the grid. We should have been right behind Verstappen and that’s why our disappointment is so great. Of course, it doesn’t help when you have a misunderstanding between the two cars. It was a lack of communication that we should have handled in the garage. It was an intense moment at the end of Q2 though, so there is nobody we need to blame.
We will now see what happens tomorrow. I think we can have a solid race; our long run pace looked strong on Friday so we will see what we can do. We are also building a good base to learn from with the car, and this weekend will provide us with a new baseline.
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
It was a slightly frustrating day considering our pace in final practice was good. George struggled to get the tyres in the window through qualifying; they were working well in similar conditions in the morning so clearly, we have something to learn there. Lewis was in a better place, but we’d have been a lot happier if we were a tenth up the road on the front row. It’s always annoying when you are the wrong side of a tight pack of cars, but we were in the mix for P2 and that is encouraging. Sadly, we didn’t do a great job of coordinating the cars so they both lost their runs at the end of the second session, and we broke a front wing in the process. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day; we had decent long run pace on Friday, and it should be a track where we can do something with that. There is still a risk of rain but even if it’s dry, we’ve got every chance to come away with some good points tomorrow.