Lando Norris stuns Verstappen to seal Spanish GP pole position

The British driver pulled off a stunning lap at the death to deny the championship leader the front grid spot

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McLaren driver Lando Norris secured pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix 2024 after pipping Red Bull star Max Verstappen in qualifying for Sunday’s Formula 1 race.

The Dutchman had the edge over Norris going into the top-10 shootout in Q3 after topping the timings in Q2 and surpassed his time with a 1:11.403, which was good enough to see off the challenge from Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz on the first run.

But on the second, Norris went purple in the second sector and edged out Verstappen by two hundredths of a second, making it four different polesitters in the last four races and Norris claimed pole at the Spanish GP, the second of his career.

Lewis Hamilton starts P3 ahead of George Russell, as the two Mercedes beat Ferrari to the second row with Leclerc fifth and Sainz sixth ahead of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon in the Alpine.

Lando Norris celebrates second position at the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP | McLaren F1 Team
Lando Norris is on pole position at the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP | McLaren F1 Team

Oscar Piastri went off into the gravel and didn’t set a time, but the McLaren star will be promoted to ninth ahead of Sergio Perez, who will have a three-place grid penalty from the Canadian GP applied to his qualifying position and starts from P11.

Lewis Hamilton continues form in Q1

With Ferrari making changes to their floor and Red Bull bringing significant upgrades to their rear wing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, many would have expected a two-way fight for pole between the two leading teams. But Mercedes and McLaren could not be discounted due to their suitability to the track layout.

In Q1, that proved to be the case as Leclerc went less than a tenth quicker than Verstappen – underlining the fine margins between success and failure at this high-speed circuit.

But as the second and third runs were completed, it was Lewis Hamilton who topped the Q1 timing sheet with a time of 1:12.143, a tenth quicker than Leclerc, to build on Mercedes‘ improved pace from Friday.

Kevin Magnussen, Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo, Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant were all eliminated from Q1, with both Sauber drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu squeezing into Q2 for the first time this season following their decision to fit new parts.

Max Verstappen during qualifying for the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen sharp in Q2

With no high-profile casualties in Q1, Q2 would provide a more realistic demonstrations of the cars’ top pace less time on the clock and cooler conditions. Verstappen led the charge into the 1minute 11s, going two tenths quicker than Norris.

Hamilton, on the used soft tyre, had work to do from P14 to secure his spot in the Q3 shootout. But on fresh rubber, the Briton made an improvement of more than a half second to slot in behind the pace-setter Verstappen.

All eyes switched to George Russell and Sergio Perez as they were languishing in the dropzone, but both drivers managed to produce the goods when the pressure was on.

That wasn’t the case for the home hero Fernando Alonso, who was unable to give the crowd something to cheer as he qualified P11. However, both Alpines made it into Q3 at his expense for the first time this season after a wretched campaign.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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