In driving yet another mega lap during qualifying, albeit this time amid much more heat and soaring track temperatures than what he found back at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton stormed to yet another pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix, this being his fourth in the current season.
Getting past the checkered flag in his flying lap in Q3, Lewis Hamilton set a speedy 1:15:584, the best time set by any driver on Saturday, a feat that was enough to position Mercedes right on top at Barcelona, for the Spanish Grand Prix.
But in finishing only seven-hundredths of a second off the pole-sitter, Valtteri Bottas clinched a fighting second and the duo together placed Mercedes for a cracking 1-2 for Barcelona.
This is a position of daunting ascendency, one we’ve been all too familiar with this season knowing the Black Arrows’ dominant form.
That said, there were some interesting outcomes further outside of top two, with Max Verstappen putting himself up on third, the best-ever he’s managed on qualifying at Barcelona, also the venue of his famous maiden win, back in 2016.
Stationed on fourth and fifth were Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll of Racing Point, Perez, showing no signs of slowing down at all, despite sitting out for a little over a fortnight.
Alex Albon had a decent run in the other Red Bull (RB 16) and brought home a ‘not-too-bad’ sixth, improving from his recent qualifying run, where at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, he managed just ninth.
Struggles for Leclerc, both Renaults and for others further down the grid
The final session of qualifying wasn’t the most rewarding one for Ferrari, whose Charles Leclerc could only manage a banal ninth, finishing right behind the two McLaren drivers- Sainz leading the attack in his home Grand Prix event ahead of his British teammate Lando Norris.
Meanwhile, Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly put his AT01 tenth on the grid, an impressive finish for a driver who’s been struggling for pace and consistency despite starting well this season.
Further down the grid, there were disappointments for both Renaults with Ricciardo and Ocon failing to make it to the final qualifying run struggling to put a decent lap time together.
Although Ricciardo holds the track record for the fastest lap time at the Spanish Grand Prix all thanks to an imposing 1:18:441, he’ll feel having lost out on setting a hot time for the battle for qualifying.
But the most disappointed, it could be said, would be Sebastian Vettel, whose timing in the final hot lap in Q2, was usurped in the very fading moments by Gasly’ imposing speed. Although, until such time, the German looked set to finish on tenth, but was left undone and would begin his Spanish GP run from eleventh on the grid.
Meanwhile, there was a pleasant surprise to see Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, who managed to sneak out of being eliminated in Q1 and for the first time in 2020, found himself in the top fifteen.
The Finn put a decent run in Q1 and would begin his 66-lap run from fourteenth on the grid, not too disappointing knowing the rather recalcitrant Alfa he’s been armed with.
Ocon, a little over one-hundredths of a second shy of Raikkonen, would take the fifteenth position, having suffered a minor collision right behind the Haas of Kevin Magnussen in the first free practice on Saturday.
All of that told, usual troubles ensued for the final five with both Williams and Haas’ missing out once again, even as the Danish driver got the best of the rest in his sixteenth, followed closely by French-Swiss driver Romain Grosjean.
That being said, it wasn’t the best qualifying for George Russell either, whose 1:18:099 was still better to outpace his Canadian teammate Nicholas Latifi, the rookie finishing nineteenth on the grid.
While the last weekend, it was the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen who found himself with the dubious twentieth on the grid, this time around, it was his Italian teammate Antonio Giovinazzi who found himself slotted on the unwanted last spot on the grid.
Hammertime yet again?
Moving on, the main question for the race would be the definitive battle between the two Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton, as a result of yet another thoroughly consistent drive bagging his fifth pole at Barcelona and his fourth in the last five years.
His race performance and effort should be discussed later as much prior to it what should be celebrated foremost should be the fact that he’s simply not allowed anyone else to dominate at the very track where he was on pole in 2016, 2017 as well as 2018. And that his and Bottas’ magnificent run of form has allowed Mercedes to enjoy a front-row lockout for the seventh time in the last eight years.
If anyone’s looking for an outstanding example of consistency, not sure what would make for a better read other than that shiny record for the Silver Arrows here at the heart of the Mediterranean.