2023 Spanish GP Qualifying: While Max Verstappen strolled to pole in Spain, further back there was plenty of drama and intrigue as Lando Norris put his underperforming McLaren into P3, Pierre Gasly stunned everyone qualifying in P4, and a coming together by the George Russell and Lewis Hamilton…
Carlos Sainz – P2
‘I’m happy with my qualifying today. The conditions were not at all easy out there, but we managed to put together some good laps and I think we extracted everything from the car. I left nothing on the table this afternoon. However, the weekend is not done and now we need to execute the best race possible. The time gaps have all been very tight the entire weekend and it won’t be an easy one but we will go for it. I want to thank all the amazing support from the grandstands! It really makes a difference and I hope we can put on a good show tomorrow.’Carlos Sainz
Charles Leclerc – P19
‘We will have to check the car and look at the data as there was clearly something really odd about the way it behaved and it felt very different to the way it had throughout the weekend up to that point. I basically had zero rear grip. The car was extremely oversteery and unpredictable. The car would be okay and suddenly it would snap away. It was something to do with the rear right corner. At first I thought it was something to do with my first set of tyres, so we changed for a new set, but there was still this very strange behaviour from the rear tyres. It’s obviously very disappointing but it will be a long race tomorrow, overtaking is possible and degradation is a big factor so we will see, but of course we will be starting from very far back.’Charles Leclerc
Lando Norris – P3
‘I am surprised to be here! Amazing job, P3. I lost P2, but it’s a home race for Carlos so I thought I would give him a couple of tenths, you know. Very happy. P3, it’s nice. The whole of Qualifying we were quite quick, so all good.
‘It’s one of our strengths, the high-speed corners, so yeah, I’m very happy. A difficult qualifying but always in these conditions, the tricky ones, we seem to do well. They seem to suit me.’Lando Norris
Pierre Gasly – P4
“I’m very pleased to qualify in fourth place in Qualifying today, my best result with Alpine this season. It was very close out there, very fine margins between many cars, and in the end we’re just less than one tenth of a second from being on the front row. We built up our session well, kept finding improvements and then we finished with a very good lap in Q3, which was really enjoyable I must say. It’s a real pity we will not start from the second row tomorrow after the penalty for impeding. I think it was very unfortunate with the traffic, cars so close together and the high-speed final corners. We have to accept it, move on and keep our heads down for tomorrow where I know we can still have a strong race.”Pierre Gasly
Lewis Hamilton – P5
‘I was a little bit surprised to see us so far up today and ultimately competing for the front-row of the grid. We did some great work overnight with our analysis of yesterday; we all did a lot of work trying to figure out where we could find more lap time. I knew when I woke up this morning that I was on a mission, although I didn’t expect we would be fighting for P2. On my final lap, I think I was on the front-row all the way until turn 10. I got on the power and the car just snapped into oversteer; I will have to check but I think that’s where I lost two tenths. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed driving the car today and I’m really encouraged to see where it is at. A big thank you to everyone at the factory as it shows we are progressing.
‘The incident with George was just a miscommunication. Obviously, we made some contact and I put a wheel on the grass. The car didn’t feel different afterwards though, so I think it will be OK.’Lewis Hamilton
George Russell – P12
‘It was an odd qualifying session today. It was clearly tricky for everyone out there and it was quite a mixed-up order. Straight out of the box, I felt like I had no grip from the tyres, and I was really struggling with the car. It was starting to bounce a lot in the high-speed turns so I couldn’t go flat out through corners we were able to in FP3. I wasn’t surprised to be knocked out in Q2 because the car was off the pace. I didn’t have a good feeling with it so it’s disappointing.
‘I’m not too sure what happened in the incident with Lewis. It was all quite surprising. I was starting my push lap and getting the slipstream from Sainz ahead. Next thing I know Lewis was alongside me. We’re fortunate nothing more serious happened and it was clearly a big miscommunication from all of us in the Team. It didn’t contribute to the lack of pace though and that was the main problem for me. We’re starting quite a few positions lower than we should be, but I’m sure tomorrow will be a better day.’George Russell
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal & CEO
‘I think we have more potential in the car that we couldn’t unlock today. We had a good car in Q1, at least with Lewis, and both drivers were happy in FP3. I think we had everything today to fight for the front two rows of the grid. We should have been right behind Verstappen and that’s why our disappointment is so great. Of course, it doesn’t help when you have a misunderstanding between the two cars. It was a lack of communication that we should have handled in the garage. It was an intense moment at the end of Q2 though, so there is nobody we need to blame.
‘We will now see what happens tomorrow. I think we can have a solid race; our long run pace looked strong on Friday so we will see what we can do. We are also building a good base to learn from with the car, and this weekend will provide us with a new baseline.’Toto Wolff
Nico Hulkenberg – P8
‘That’s our best qualifying of the season so far, clean and well executed by the team and myself. It’s positive and a very decent position to start the race from tomorrow. Track position is pretty valuable here in Barcelona, so we’ll take that and get ready for a tough fight. It’s not going to be an easy race, it’s going to be a tire degradation race with strategy, and we have to play our cards well, but the car has been performing and I feel within the midfield we’re definitely competitive.’Nico Hulkenberg