Spanish GP 2024

JUNE 22, 2024

Qualifying Report - Norris snatches pole

Lando Norris, Spanish GP 2024
© McLaren

Lando Norris delivered a thrilling performance in the Spanish Grand Prix qualifying, snatching pole position from championship leader Max Verstappen by a mere 0.020 seconds. This dramatic result sets up an exciting race in Barcelona, with Norris and Verstappen lining up on the front row.

The McLaren driver showcased his exceptional skill, finding the crucial time on his final flying lap to secure his second F1 pole position. Verstappen, who looked set for his eighth pole of the season after clocking a 1m11.673s on his first attempt and then improving to 1m11.403s with the aid of a tow from teammate Sergio Perez, was left stunned by Norris’s late surge.

“It was pretty much a perfect lap. It was so close, still, but I’m super happy. One of my best pole positions, not that I’ve had many! But it was just about getting a perfect lap, and that’s what we did,” Norris remarked with visible elation. “We’ve been quick the last two months, since Miami we’ve been strong. We’ve probably missed out on pole just by not having the perfect lap, but we did it today.”

The two Mercedes cars showed strong form, locking out the second row. Lewis Hamilton narrowly outqualified his teammate George Russell by just 0.002 seconds to claim third place. This result displaced the two Ferraris, with Charles Leclerc securing the fifth-fastest time, edging out his teammate Carlos Sainz by a slim 0.005 seconds.

Pierre Gasly delivered a surprising performance for Alpine, taking seventh place on the grid. The team had anticipated a challenging weekend, making Gasly’s result even more impressive. Sergio Perez, who qualified eighth, will start 11th due to a grid penalty carried over from the Montreal race. This penalty promotes Esteban Ocon and Oscar Piastri into the top 10. Piastri’s Q3 was marred by an error as he understeered out of Turn 13, clipping the gravel and aborting his lap, leaving him in 10th place.

Fernando Alonso faced a tough qualifying session at his home race, managing only 11th despite improving on his final lap. Alonso’s performance, although valiant, was not enough to break into Q3. Valtteri Bottas will start alongside Alonso in 12th, after a late-session drop in Q2. Nico Hulkenberg also missed out on Q3, joining Lance Stroll and Zhou Guanyu among the drivers who failed to progress beyond Q2.

Kevin Magnussen had a challenging session, ending up 16th after being pushed into the drop zone by his Haas teammate Hulkenberg’s late improvement. Despite his best efforts, Magnussen’s final lap was just under a tenth of a second shy of safety.

The Red Bull cars of Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo, despite featuring new upgrades, were both eliminated in Q1. They became victims of a tightly compressed field, finishing under a second behind Hamilton’s Q1 benchmark. The Williams team faced a disappointing qualifying, with Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant locking out the back row of the grid. Albon’s strategy to run off-peak with his second Q1 effort initially saw him reach 12th, but he ultimately slipped back as others improved.

With Norris on pole, the Spanish Grand Prix promises an electrifying contest. Norris aims to capitalize on his qualifying success to challenge Verstappen and the rest of the competitive field for victory. As Norris put it, “[Winning] is our target, but it’s going to be tough against Max, against Lewis. But we’re here to win now.”