Lewis Hamilton takes Spanish GP pole position ahead of Valtteri Bottas

Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MONTMELO, Spain — Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton secured a record-extending 92nd pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix, nudging Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas into second place by just 0.059 seconds on Saturday.

Bottas was ahead of championship leader Hamilton on the first two splits but lost a fraction of time when he came out too wide from a turn at the end of his lap.

“All day today I’ve been struggling a bit in (that) sector,” Bottas said after missing out on a 14th career pole. “Of course it is annoying but Lewis did a good job.”

The winding 4.7-kilometer ( 2.9-mile) Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with its combination of slow and fast corners, is one of the hardest for overtaking. This gives Hamilton every chance of claiming an 88th F1 victory that would move him within three of Michael Schumacher’s record.

As usual, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who won last week at Silverstone, looked the only driver capable of staying with the Mercedes and he qualified in third place – .708 seconds behind Hamilton.

“It is the maximum we can do at the moment, so pretty happy with that,” Verstappen said. “I hope I can apply a bit of pressure (in the race). It is very hard to overtake here, but we will do everything we can to be close to them and make it difficult.”

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who missed the last two races as he recovered from the coronavirus, was fourth ahead of teammate Lance Stroll.

It was another bad day for Ferrari, with Charles Leclerc ninth and Sebastian Vettel a dismal 11th, despite having a new chassis fitted. Four-time champion Vettel is enduring his worst start to a season since 2008 and has yet to finish in the top five of a race.

Track temperatures on the circuit reached 50 degrees C (122 F) when qualifying started shortly after 3 p.m. local time.

“It would be nice to have an ice cream in here,” Stroll joked over team radio.

Renault driver Esteban Ocon took part despite a heavy crash near the end of morning practice, where Hamilton was fastest ahead of Bottas and Verstappen. Mercedes also led practice on Friday with Bottas and Hamilton swapping places and Verstappen twice third.

Ocon went off the track when he had to swerve suddenly to the right to avoid crashing into the back of Kevin Magnussen, who hit the brakes late. He went into the wall and damaged the front of his Renault, bringing a red flag out to stop the session and giving the team just two hours to repair the car. Stewards investigated the incident and took no further action.

“The guys did a great job to get the car ready,” Ocon said.

The French driver made it through the first part of qualifying, known as Q1, where five are eliminated. They included both Haas and both Williams cars.

Verstappen won last Sunday’s race at Silverstone to end a streak of three wins for Hamilton and four straight for Mercedes. It also moved the Dutch driver up to second place in the standings behind Hamilton, with Bottas dropping to third.

Hamilton has won the last three Spanish GPs, although those were held in May in lower temperatures not so tough on tires.

“It’s the first time I’ve been here in Barcelona when it’s been this hot. Physically it’s tough, it’s so fast around here,” the veteran British driver said. “The forces to our body are pretty intense and the tires are what we are really struggling with. You see drivers crawling around just to keep the temperature out.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III