Sunday, August 16, 2020

Hamilton Beats the Heat for Spanish Grand Prix Pole

Photo Credit: Steve Etherington/ Mercedes AMG

After two races competing on Britain’s Silverstone Circuit, the Formula 1 arrives at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix. Another grand prix event taking place without fans in attendance, the Spanish Grand Prix has been a widely-supported race first appearing on the Formula 1 schedule in 1951. The venue for the grand prix since 1991 has been the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya currently configured in a 4.655-kilometer layout. Normally held on mid-spring, the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix’s placement in the middle of August presents hotter weather resulting in track temperatures nearing 50 degrees Celsius during Saturday’s qualifying.
Qualifying in Spain ended once more in favour of the Mercedes AMG F1 team. Besting his teammate Valtteri Bottas with a 1-minute, 15.584-second lap time, Hamilton secured his 92nd career Formula 1 pole position is his fourth in 2020. In a media release from the Mercedes Petronas F1 Team, Lewis Hamilton commented “The first Q3 lap was really solid but there was still a bit of room for improvement. But my second lap wasn’t particularly great and I just couldn’t go quicker. In the end, it was very close with Valtteri out there, he’s keeping me on my toes and every millisecond counts.”. Hamilton has won the Spanish Grand Prix on a total of four occasions with three falling consecutively from 2017 to 2019. Placing a tight second on the time chart after qualifying, Valtteri Bottas helped to secure the fifth all-Mercedes AMG team front row in the six events so far this season.  

Riding into Spain with the momentum of a victory in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone last week through the combination of steady race pace and strategic tire use, Max Verstappen continues to be the lead challenger to the Mercedes AMG race cars. Recording a top time of 1-minute, 16.292 seconds, Verstappen and his Honda-powered Red Bull vehicle were 0.649 seconds slower than Bottas’ car. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya holds a special significance for Max Verstappen for being the site of his first-ever Formula 1 win in 2016 running his first race with Red Bull Racing. 

Making a return after missing the two Silverstone races due to testing positive for COVID-19, Sergio Perez has shown a definite desire to prove his importance with Racing Point. Getting back up to speed quickly through practices, Perez posted a fourth fastest Q3 time less than two-tenths of a second slower than Max Verstappen. Perez’s effort placed him ahead of Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll who will start the Spanish Grand Prix alongside the second Red Bull Racing entry driven by Alexander Albon. 

The McLaren Formula 1 race team locked up the fourth row for Sunday’s race with Carlos Sainz Jr. narrowly claiming an advantage over Lando Norris at his home country’s event. Starting eighth, Norris’s Q3 qualifying effort beat the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc by just 0.003 seconds on the stop watch. Making his second consecutive Q3 appearance in Spain, Pierre Gasly settled for the tenth place grid position piloting his AlphaTauri. Sebastian Vettel, continuing to experience what has amounted to be a dismal 2020 season to date, will start in 11th place after missing the opportunity at a top-10 qualifying by just 0.002 seconds after Q2. 

With the warm summer heat beaming on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, tire wear and management is anticipated as a factor for Sunday’s race once again for Formula 1 drivers and teams. The top 10 qualifiers on Saturday had set top times on Q2 with soft compound Pirelli rubber. If Ferrari and Vettel are willing to make a gamble, they can choose to start the Spanish Grand Prix on medium compound tires. Based on the data in practice sessions, the use of hard compound tires during the course of Sunday’s race is not expected.

Set for 66 laps around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix’s start time on Sunday is 3:10 pm local time (9:10 am Eastern time).

2020 Formula 1
Spanish Grand Prix
Starting Grid

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