Lewis Hamilton took pole for the Spanish Grand Prix reaching a unique milestone in Formula One by claiming the top spot for the 100th time. Max Verstappen was in second for Red Bull at the Circuit de Catalunya, with Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in third. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was in fourth with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in fifth.
Hamilton’s first hot lap in Q3 was immense, with a time of 1min 16.741sec, he found time in both the second and third sectors, running right on the limit. Yet he was not alone in finding a real groove in Barcelona; Verstappen, in his wake pushed him as hard as he could flying over the line just three-hundredths behind the world champion. There was nothing in it as they headed into the final laps.
Verstappen passed cars on his out lap to slot on in behind the two Mercedes. Hamilton was the first to go and found time in his first sector but did not improve over the final two, yet he had done enough. Neither Verstappen nor Bottas could find any more time and Hamilton’s first lap stood as the best of the day and enough to claim his 100th pole.
Reaching 100 poles is an absolutely remarkable achievement for the 36-year-old, now in his 15th season in F1. He took his first in his debut season in 2007 when he was just 22 years old, at only his sixth meeting, then driving for McLaren at the Canadian Grand Prix. As the records continue to fall to the British driver, he could match Michael Schumacher’s record of six wins here in Spain should he convert it on Sunday.
There is every chance he will. Hamilton has not been beaten here since 2017 and Mercedes have won all but one meeting in Barcelona since 2014 when Verstappen denied them while making his debut for Red Bull in 2016.
That Hamilton has achieved it from competing in just 270 meetings is illustrative of how he has dominated the sport, particularly in the last seven years. Hamilton’s return rate in the single-lap discipline has been exceptional and he claimed the record of pole positions some time ago but has opened a yawning chasm to two of the sport’s greatest drivers he has now eclipsed. Michael Schumacher took 39 more meetings than Hamilton to claim his 68 poles, while Hamilton’s childhood hero Ayrton Senna scored 65.
Every advantage will be key this season with the championship likely to be tightly contested but poles must be converted. Hamilton now leads the way over the single-lap discipline with two to Verstappen’s one and has two wins to the Dutchman’s one, with an eight-point lead in the title race.
Earlier in qualifying, Lando Norris headed the timesheets in Q1, with Verstappen putting in a very quick lap to lead Q2.
At the close, Carlos Sainz was in sixth for Ferrari; Daniel Ricciardo and Norris in seventh and ninth for McLaren; Sergio Pérez in eighth for Red Bull with Fernando Alonso in 10th for Alpine.
Lance Stroll went out in Q2 in 11th for Aston Martin with his teammate Sebastian Vettel in 13th and Pierre Gasly in 12th for AlphaTauri. Antonio Giovinazzi was in 14th for Alfa Romeo and George Russell was in 15th for Williams.
Yuki Tsunoda went out in 16th for AlphaTauri; Kimi Räikkönen in 16th for Alfa Romeo and Nicholas Latifi finished in 19th for Williams. Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin were in 18th and 20th for Haas.