Winners and losers from Spanish GP qualifying

Finley Crebolder
George Russell chases Charles Leclerc. Spanish GP Barcelona May 2022

Who had a Saturday in Spain full of pain? Who was beaming in Barcelona at the end of the day? Let’s take a look…

Here are our Spanish GP qualifying winners and losers:

Winners

Charles Leclerc

Leclerc really needs to halt Max Verstappen’s charge this weekend, and he got off to the best possible start with a vintage final lap in qualifying.

The Ferrari man was up against it in Q3 after spinning during his final run and thus not setting a time, but he rose to the occasion, delivering a stunning lap to go over three-tenths faster than any other driver.

With such a large gap and it notoriously difficult to overtake at this track, he’s undoubtedly the favourite to claim victory in Barcelona now.

Mercedes

It may seem odd to say Mercedes’ qualifying was a big success given they finished in P4 and P6, but all things considered, it undoubtedly was.

While they weren’t able to fight for pole, they were far, far closer to Ferrari and Red Bull than they have been at every other round this season and were even able to go faster than Sergio Perez courtesy of George Russell.

That’s a huge step forward for the German team and there’s now genuine reason to believe they can fight for wins this year at least.

Daniel Ricciardo

Heading into the weekend, Ricciardo was one of only three drivers yet to out-qualify their team-mate so far this year, but that’s not the case anymore.

We don’t know if he’d have been able to beat Lando Norris in Q3 if the Brit hadn’t had his lap time deleted in Q2, knocking him out, but the Aussie was much faster than him in Q1 and there was little to choose between them throughout the second session.

There will be a big weight off of Ricciardo’s shoulders now that he’s got on the board in the qualifying head-to-head – if he can perform as well on race day, he may well be the lead McLaren for the first time this year.

Haas

It was hard not to fear the worst for Haas ahead of qualifying. They were one of the few teams not to bring any upgrades to Spain and it wasn’t certain if Mick Schumacher would even be able to take part after his car caught fire in FP3. Ultimately though, they got both cars into Q3 for the first time since 2019.

Kevin Magnussen was rapid throughout the day, taking P5 in Q1 and Q2, and Norris having his time deleted allowed Schumacher to join his team-mate in the top-10 shootout.

The Dane may have been hoping for more in it, but with him in P8 and the German in P10 on the starting grid, it was an excellent day nonetheless.

Losers

Lewis Hamilton

While it was a great Saturday for his team, it wasn’t for Hamilton himself with him again second-best to team-mate George Russell.

He was the slower of the two Mercedes drivers throughout the day, finishing behind his compatriot in all three sessions – in Q3, he wasn’t even able to get within a tenth.

With Russell beating him in each of the last four rounds, the seven-time World Champion will be desperate to show he’s still top dog, but wasn’t able to in qualifying.

 

Fernando Alonso

Alonso would have been hoping to kickstart his season on home turf, but instead, his run of remarkably bad luck continued as he dropped out in Q1.

While Alpine’s qualifying pace wasn’t as quick as they had hoped, the Spaniard still had enough pace to get in and around the top-10. He wasn’t able to though as he was forced to abort his final lap in Q1 after getting too close to Lando Norris in a rush to start it in time.

He actually had 20 seconds to do so but his team rather bafflingly didn’t tell him that, ending his hopes of making it to Q2. When things aren’t going your way, you need some help from your team, and he isn’t getting it. Still, watching him try make his way through the field will be fun.

Zhou Guanyu

Hamilton’s former team-mate Valtteri Bottas qualified just behind him in P7, but the other Alfa Romeo wasn’t able to get anywhere near the Finn.

There were encouraging signs for Zhou in Q1 as he made it into the top 10, but he didn’t deliver when it really mattered, finishing bottom of the pack in P15 in Q2.

In the hands of Bottas, the Alfa looks like the fourth-fastest car on the grid, so the rookie really should be doing much better.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin were the talk of the town when they showed up at the track with a car looking almost identical to the Red Bull. They were hoping the big redesign would move them up from the bottom of the pack to the top of the midfield, but instead it was more of the same.

Lance Stroll was nowhere near making it out of Q1, half a second off the required time, while Sebastian Vettel, although a lot closer, also failed to do so. The Williams was the only car slower than theirs.

Another copycat scandal won’t do them much good and could get them into hot water, and initial signs suggest it could all be for nothing.

 

Torquing Point: Can Carlos Sainz win his home race?

Carlos Sainz is desperate to get his first Formula 1 win, and where better to do it than his home race?