Norris takes Verstappen’s pole position in Montmeló by 20 thousandths


The British driver Lando Norris (McLaren) achieved pole position this Saturday in Montmeló for the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix, the tenth round of the World Championship, while the Spaniards Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) will start, respectively, sixth and eleventh from the Sunday grid.

At the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with no rain forecast despite seeing cloudy skies, the temperature dropped somewhat compared to what was expected by the majority of teams in the paddock. And without the expected sun and with the colder asphalt, the demands increased for the cars, all wearing the set of soft red tires.

In Q1, the Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) led for a while with 1:12.257 as the best time, 0.049 faster than the Dutch Max Verstappen (Red Bull). Sainz, in fourth place and then fifth, passed that first screening well. Alonso suffered more, as he made two good last sectors in a lap that earned him ninth place and access to Q2.

Along the way, the Danish Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and the Japanese Yuki Tsunoda along with the Australian Daniel Ricciardo (both from Visa Cash App RB) had been cut, as well as the Thai Alexander Albon along with the American Logan Sargeant (both from Williams).

In the first stages of Q2, the Australian Oscar Piastri (McLaren), Sainz and Norris themselves and, of course, Verstappen, moved forward in the lead for consecutive laps. ‘Mad Max”s best time, at 1:11.653, was a challenge for his rivals, especially the British Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).

In fact, the seven-time world champion was in dangerous places until almost the end of Q2; but he pushed hard enough to finish in second place, 0.139 behind the solid Dutch leader. Alonso could not have been among the ‘gallitos’, who here posted his best lap to Montmeló in 1:12.128 and came in eleventh, 0.019 behind tenth position.

That place had been for the French Esteban Ocon (Alpine), whose good performance screened the Finnish Valtteri Bottas (Kick Sauber), the German Nico Hülkenberg (Haas), the Canadian Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) and the Chinese Guanyu Zhou (Kick Sauber ), all of them were out of Q3.

Looking ahead to that third and final qualifying round, Verstappen ran his first lap in 1:11.673 and made the battle more expensive after doing the second in 1:11.403. But then Norris emerged to take the final pole in 1:11.383, just ahead of the Dutchman and Hamilton who was third at 0.318; Sainz, at 0.353, finished sixth.