2019 Spanish GP: 5 Stories for Qualifying

2019 Spanish GP: 5 Stories for Qualifying

Will Mercedes’ Spanish supremacy continue? Can Vettel take his first Catalunya pole? Will Hulkenberg qualify in the top ten? Here are five stories to look out for on Saturday at the Spanish Grand Prix!


THE HEADLINES FROM FRIDAY:

  • Bottas leads both FP1 and FP2
  • Ferrari 0.1 slower in FP1, 0.3 off in FP2
  • Stroll crashes at end of FP1
  • Verstappen’s FP1 cut short due to oil leak
  • Haas ‘best of the rest’ – Grosjean 5th in FP1, 6th in FP2

WILL MERCEDES’ SPANISH GP DOMINATION CONTINUE?

Mercedes have dominated the start of the 2019 season and have taken three of a possible four pole positions so far this year. The team have dominated on Saturdays in recent years at the Spanish Grand Prix, having taken every pole position here since 2013 – and it looks likely that they’ll take pole for the event once again in 2019.

Valtteri Bottas was quickest in both of Friday’s practice sessions, out-pacing Sebastian Vettel in the first session by a tenth of a second and finishing half a tenth ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton in FP2. Mercedes were three tenths faster than Ferrari in the afternoon session.

Hamilton is on a streak of three consecutive poles at the circuit. A pole this weekend will see him equal Michael Schumacher’s record of four consecutive pole positions at the track. Bottas will be hoping to end that streak, though. A pole for the Finn this weekend will see him start from the front in three consecutive Grands Prix for the first time in his career.

QUALIFYING SESSION TOPPERS IN SPAIN IN RECENT YEARS:

  Q1 Q2 Q3
2014 Nico Rosberg
Mercedes
Nico Rosberg
Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
2015 Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
Nico Rosberg
Mercedes
Nico Rosberg
Mercedes
2016 Nico Hulkenberg
Force India
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
2017 Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
2018 Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes

CAN VETTEL TAKE HIS FIRST SPANISH GP POLE?

Along with the Red Bull Ring and the Circuit Paul Ricard, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is one of only three circuits on the current Formula 1 calendar at which Sebastian Vettel has never taken pole position. Given Mercedes’ pace on Friday, it seems unlikely that the statistic will change in 2019. Even if Ferrari can get ahead on Saturday, Vettel will still have to out-pace speedy team-mate Charles Leclerc. Vettel was faster than Leclerc by a little over a tenth in FP1, but the Monegasque driver ended up ahead in FP2 by 0.088 seconds.

If Vettel does take pole, this will be the 24th different circuit at which the German has started from the front. He’ll equal Lewis Hamilton’s record number of different Grands Prix at which a driver has taken pole position.


CAN NICO HULKENBERG REACH Q3?

Surprisingly, Nico Hulkenberg has never reached the final part of qualifying in his eight appearances at the Spanish Grand Prix. Last season, he was eliminated in Q1.

After a lacklustre start to the year, Renault will be hoping that their cars will be more competitive as a result of the upgrades which they have brought to Catalunya. With team-mate Daniel Ricciardo taking a three-place grid penalty for his collision with Daniil Kvyat in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, it seems imperative for Hulkenberg to perform well in qualifying, to give the team the best chance of maximising their points on Sunday.

Hulkeberg finished ahead of Ricciardo in both of Friday’s practice sessions, but could only just set a time fast enough for tenth in FP1, before setting the fourteenth fastest lap in FP2. Can he break into the top ten in qualifying for the first time in Spain?





CAN CARLOS SAINZ MAINTAIN HIS IMPRESSIVE SPANISH RECORD?

Carlos Sainz’s record at his home race is impressive. He’s never failed to score here and, on Saturdays, he’s yet to fail to reach Q3. He’s also beaten his team-mate in qualifying on every visit to the Catalunya track.

The Spaniard has reached Q3 only once so far in 2019. That was in Bahrain, which was also one of two race weekends where he has beaten Lando Norris in qualifying this season, the other being in China. Sainz was sixth fastest in First Practice, and ninth in Second Practice, lapping quicker than Norris in both sessions. Norris was down in sixteenth in both of Friday’s sessions. Will Sainz be able to stay within the top ten on Saturday?

You can keep track of the team-mate battles throughout the 2019 season on our Team-Mate Battles page!


WILL ALFA ROMEO REACH Q3?

The former Sauber team haven’t appeared in the final part of qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix since 2012. In all of the past five seasons, one of their cars has been eliminated in Q1 at the Catalunya track. In 2019, the team have witnessed at least one of their cars reaching Q3 in three of the four races so far, with the Chinese Grand Prix weekend being the only exception. Last time out, in Azerbaijan, both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi qualified in the top ten – though Giovinazzi was demoted on the grid due to an engine penalty.

Giovinazzi out-paced Raikkonen in FP1, but the Finn was seven tenths of a second faster than the Italian in the afternoon session. Neither ranked in the top ten in either of Friday’s practice sessions. Will Alfa Romeo qualify in the top ten at the Spanish Grand Prix for the first time in seven years?


Follow @LightsOutF1Blog on Twitter for live updates throughout Qualifying!






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