Spanish GP: Max Verstappen takes pole, Sainz & Norris to start in front

In the drivers’ standings, Verstappen has a 39-point advantage over teammate Sergio Perez, and Red Bull has a comfortable lead over Aston Martin in the constructors’ standings.

Spanish GP 2023 Qualifying, F1: Unstoppable Max Verstappen takes pole, Leclerc, Perez to start from behind

Spanish Grand Prix 2023: Max Verstappen takes the pole after setting the fastest time lap of 1:13:615. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz secured the second spot and will the Dutchman on the front row. McClaren’s Lando Norris enjoyed a brilliant outing and will start from P3 in the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday. Earlier, Sergio Perez and George Russell got eliminated in Q2. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc got eliminated in Q1.

Verstappen, who won the event in 2016 and 2022 but has never started it from the front of the grid, converted his practice clean sweep into P1 for Sunday’s race with a dominant performance across the grid-deciding hour.

Indeed, having pumped in an initial lap of 1m 12.272s, Verstappen was afforded the luxury of backing off during his second attempt and still finished almost half a second up on Sainz and Norris, who emerged as his nearest rivals in an action-packed session.

That included Charles Leclerc dropping out of the Q1 phase amid car complaints, the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez falling at the second qualifying hurdle after a trip through the gravel, and George Russell also exiting in Q2 after a bizarre incident with team mate Lewis Hamilton.

Spanish GP 2023 Qualifying, F1: Unstoppable Max Verstappen takes pole, Leclerc, Perez to start from behind

Pierre Gasly took fourth in another strong showing for Alpine, albeit with a stewards’ investigation hanging over him after he got in the way of rival cars, as Hamilton and Lance Stroll completed the top six positions.

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Esteban Ocon put the other Alpine seventh, with Nico Hulkenberg leading Haas’ charge in eighth, Fernando Alonso ninth after running out of sequence with the rest of the field in Q3, and McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri 10th.

Perez followed up his Q1 exit in Monaco with another compromised qualifying session, having run off-track at Turn 5 in Q3, while Russell could do no more than 12th after banging wheels with Hamilton down the start/finish straight.

Zhou Guanyu was the lead Alfa Romeo in 13th position, with AlphaTauri team mates Nyck de Vries and Yuki Tsunoda recovering from some early spins to take 14th and 15th respectively – the Dutchman continuing to build up confidence after a mixed start to the season.

Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen lacked pace compared to their respective Alfa Romeo and Haas team mates, dropping out at the Q1 phase in 16th and 17th respectively, with Leclerc dramatically following them as he complained about car problems from the outset.

Leclerc’s first Q1 exit since Monaco 2019 left him a lowly 19th on the grid, between Williams pair Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, the latter unable to make an impression after mechanics worked hard to repair the car he damaged during a final practice crash.

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*Inputs from Formula 1

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