Max Verstappen will start the Spanish Grand Prix from the number one slot on the grid. The Red Bull driver's best time was a 1min12.272s set on P Zero Red soft. Tomorrow, Carlos Sainz will start alongside him thanks to a lap in 1m12.734s, set on the same compound. Third and fourth fastest in Q3 were McLaren's Lando Norris (1m12.792s) and Pierre Gasly for Alpine (1m12.816s).
Some rain fell at the start of Q1 and after several drivers went off the track, the session was halted to clear gravel off the track.
Rain also hit the track a few minutes after the green light at the start of the third free practice session. The time sheet was established in those few dry moments when the cars could use slicks. The two Red Bulls headed the pack with Verstappen (1m13.664) and Perez (1m13.914s) in that order. Hamilton was third quickest in 1m14.072.
In this session, all the teams also ran the Cinturato Green Intermediate: quickest on this was Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) in 1m23.133s. The fact that the track was drying out quickly meant teams could evaluate the right crossover point to switch from intermediates to slicks.
The wet conditions meant few laps were completed on the other two dry compounds available for this race: ten on the P Zero Yellow medium, split between four with Ferrari and six with Alpine and only two with the P Zero White hard, courtesy of both AlphaTauri drivers.
The Pirelli Pole Position Award was presented to Max Verstappen by Mason Mount. The Englishman plays as a midfielder or in attack for Chelsea FC and for the national team, which was runner-up in the 2021 European Championships. With his London club, Mount has also won the UEFA Champions League (2020-2021), the UEFA Supercup and the World Cup for clubs (2021).
In the event of a completely dry race, on paper a two-stop strategy is fastest, running these compounds - Soft/Hard/Hard, which also works best for those starting from the back end of the grid, but in the reverse order - Hard/Hard/Soft. The window for the first tyre change is between laps 13 and 18, while for the second one it is between laps 37 and 43. Another two-stop option is Soft/Hard/Soft, (first stop between laps 15 and 20, the second between 46 and 51). A three-stop strategy, chosen by almost everyone last year, could run as follows: Soft/Hard/Soft/Soft, the first stop coming between laps 10 and 15. Obviously, those who have been able to save a set of new Softs might prefer this strategy, which is definitely more aggressive than a two-stop.
Mario Isola: "That was a very exciting qualifying this afternoon full of twists and turns. In the first part, the rain made a brief but significant appearance, but the track dried out quickly and considerably after that. The rain fell not only in Q1 but also prior to that in FP3 and during the Formula 2 race and so the grip levels were far from ideal, which made it even more surprising that no fewer than ten drivers lapped under our previous simulation predictions for the pole time of 1m13.400s. In fact, the actual pole time was almost 1.2s quicker! The fact that the top six places featured six different cars proves how closely matched the teams are, even if one driver and one car are still the clear favourites also at this track.
"From what we have seen so far, race strategy would seem to match our predictions, with a two-stop race being a better bet than a three stop, while the best tyre to race on is the Hard, the new C1 introduced at the start of this year. A further consideration is the long run down to the first corner, so choosing the Softs for the start could be the way to go, because it offers extra grip off the line. Having said that, these options could be academic as Meteo France is predicting a 60% chance of rain from 15 tomorrow..."
Check out our Saturday gallery from Barcelona here.