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Story of qualifying – Mercedes back on top at F1’s aero track

Normal service was resumed at the Spanish Grand Prix as Mercedes locked out the entrance row at Barcelona, but it surely was nonetheless an intriguing session.

Shock: That so many drivers did not set their quickest time on the tremendous-tender tyre. Usually tyre selection for Q3 is straightforward: go for the softest compound to get probably the most grip. But in Spain, each Ferraris, Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso set their quickest time on the tender compound (the second quickest on provide in Barcelona). It’s additionally value noting that each one of the top ten aside from Alonso set their quickest Q2 time on the tender, which means they are going to begin the race on that tyre and goal for a one-cease technique. For a proof of why so many drivers struggled on the tremendous-tender tyre, click on right here.

Shocker: Brendon Hartley’s large shunt in closing follow meant he wasn’t in a position to begin qualifying. The New Zealander, who’s coming below growing stress in his first full season in F1, misplaced management of his Toro Rosso when he dipped two wheels on the grass on the doorway to the excessive-pace Turn 9. Such was the impression with the obstacles that the gearbox snapped off when the automobile was lifted from the gravel lure and there was no likelihood of getting the automobile rebuilt within the two hours between the tip of closing follow and the beginning of Q1.

As you have been: Mercedes took its first pole place because the season-opener in Melbourne. The return to a track the place environment friendly aerodynamics are king might be half of the rationale, however as soon as once more it was the tyres that gave the impression to be the primary issue. Unusually, Mercedes appeared to manage higher than Ferrari on Pirelli’s softest compound, however that will have been a end result of the cooler temperatures in qualifying. On Friday Mercedes additionally regarded just like the sooner automobile over lengthy runs, holding a zero.9s per lap benefit over Ferrari and zero.6s over Red Bull.

Most improved: Mercedes might have damaged Ferrari’s run of consecutive pole positions, however Alonso qualifying eighth is arguably the obvious change from earlier rounds. The upgrades on the McLaren are clear to see and he was simply zero.045s off taking the “best of the rest” award (also called seventh on the grid) from Kevin Magnussen within the Haas. However, the hole to pole place was nonetheless over 1.6s, underlining the duty going through McLaren to return to the very entrance.

New track report: Lewis Hamilton’s pole place lap was three seconds sooner than final yr’s pole. That’s largely all the way down to the tyres being two steps softer than in 2017, but in addition a mirrored image of the relentless growth race in F1 — Hamilton’s time was additionally a second faster than one of the best lap in winter testing. The new report of 1:16.173 might go unbeaten for a number of years as 2019’s regulation modifications are anticipated to make the automobiles 1.5s slower.

First nook prediction: With Mercedes locking out the entrance row, Hamilton is the favorite tp lead the pack by Turn 1 however preserve an eye fixed out for Sebastian Vettel ranging from the clear facet of the grid behind the lead Mercedes. Alonso usually begins properly in Spain, and because the solely driver on tremendous-softs he ought to get a greater launch from the road than the remaining of the top ten. If he will get among the many top 5 on the primary lap, anticipate the native crowd to go wild.

Driver of the day: Following his current struggles, Hamilton held all of it collectively to take pole place by zero.040s from teammate Bottas. It was solely a small margin but it surely makes a large distinction on a track that’s so tough to overhaul on.

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