Max secures dominant pole in Barcelona: 'The car was really good'
Published on 03 June 2023 by Stefan Meens
Max Verstappen clinched his 24th pole position of his career following a commanding performance in Saturday’s qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz will join the Oracle Red Bull Racing driver on the front row, with McLaren’s Lando Norris completing the top three.
“The car was really good. Qualifying started off tricky with the weather. But once it dried, the car was on rails and really nice to drive”, reflected the reigning champion.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Max said: “I love coming to Barcelona. I love the circuit and the fans; they really love racing. I’ve made some great memories here and hopefully I can add some more tomorrow.”
At the start of qualifying, clouds gather over the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya with light drops falling as the session gets underway. All drivers head out on track as soon as possible to clock a timed lap in case the rain intensifies.
The session is red flagged following a spin from Alex Albon in turn five. Although the Williams is not damaged and Albon is able to drive back to the pits, race controls deems the amount of gravel on the circuit substantial enough to throw a red flag.
Once the circuit is cleared and the session resumes, the rain has stopped and the track continues to improve with every lap completed. The lap times tumble rapidly and the teams send out all the drivers to make the most of the improved conditions.
In the end, it is the two Williams of Albon and Logan Sargeant, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas who join Charles Leclerc in the select group of drivers that do not make it into Q2. The Ferrari driver’s exit is perhaps the biggest negative surprise of the session, with the Monagasque complaining about the rear of his car.
In the second segment of qualifying, Max turns up the pace and sets the quickest time thus far on his first flying lap. On his second attempt, the Dutchman solidifies his P1, comfortably progressing to Q3.
Meanwhile, his Red Bull colleague Sergio Perez struggles to extract a quick enough lap out of his RB19. On his first attempt, he loses control into turn five after touching the damp kerbstones. The Mexican’s second and final try is half a tenth short of the required time set by Nico Hulkenberg in tenth. Perez therefore strands in Q2, along with the AlphaTauris of Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries, Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou and George Russell. The latter touched with Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton on the start/finish straight, resulting in a damaged front wing for the seven time champion, who is still able to contest Q3.
In the closing part of quali, Max dominates. His first lap is imperious and quick enough to seal his 24th pole position, with the Dutchman opting to abort his final attempt. Carlos Sainz secures an impressive front row start ahead of his home crowd, but the Spaniard trails Max by half a second. Lando Norris surprises with third place.
|1||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:13.615||1:12.760||1:12.272|
|3||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Mercedes||1:13.295||1:12.776||1:12.792|
|4||Pierre Gasly||GAS||Alpine Renault||1:13.471||1:13.186||1:12.816|
|6||Lance Stroll||STR||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:13.766||1:13.082||1:12.994|
|7||Esteban Ocon||OCO||Alpine Renault||1:13.433||1:13.001||1:13.083|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||HUL||Haas Ferrari||1:13.420||1:13.283||1:13.229|
|9||Fernando Alonso||ALO||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:13.747||1:13.098||1:13.507|
|10||Oscar Piastri||PIA||McLaren Mercedes||1:13.691||1:13.059||1:13.682|
|11||Sergio Perez||PER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:13.874||1:13.334|
|13||Zhou Guanyu||ZHO||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:13.677||1:13.521|
|14||Nyck De Vries||DEV||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:13.581||1:14.083|
|15||Yuki Tsunoda||TSU||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:13.862||1:14.477|
|16||Valtteri Bottas||BOT||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:13.977|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||MAG||Haas Ferrari||1:14.042|
|18||Alexander Albon||ALB||Williams Mercedes||1:14.063|
|20||Logan Sargeant||SAR||Williams Mercedes||1:14.699|