In a qualifying session that saw the upgraded RB13 narrow the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes, Max and Daniel will line-up on row three of the grid for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix, with Max sealing fifth place ahead of his team-mate.
Max, with a lap of 1:19.706, finished 0.557s behind pole position man Lewis Hamilton, with the Dutchman afterwards hailing the heavily revised car as a "massive improvement". It was a less successful session for Daniel, however, with the Australian struggling to find a comfort zone, especially in the final sector where he said he lost time. Daniel finished the session with a Q3 time of 1:20.175.
There were no issues for either driver in Q1, with Max progressive in P5 with a time of 1:21.430. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was quickest with a lap of 1:20.511, two tenths of a second ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. The German, whose team had to undertake an engine change on his car between final practice and qualifying, got an early scare when after setting his first flying lap time he was told to stop the car. Vettel nursed the car to the pit lane, which he managed to do and eventually he was able to return to the action.
The car was definitely the best I have had all season and I was very pleased with the balance today.
At the lower end of the order it was a disappointing outing for Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat. While team-mate Carlos Sainz managed to end the session in the top 10, Kvyat remained rooted to the foot of the order and was ruled out of further competition in P20. Also eliminated at this stage were Sauber's Marcus Ericsson, Renault's Jolyon Palmer, Williams' Lance Stroll and McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne.
Q2 was again something of a formality for both Max and Daniel, with the pair needing just a single run to ensure qualification to Q3 as Hamilton again set the pace ahead of Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen. Max finished in P5 with a time of 1:20.722 and Daniel in P6 with 1:20.855.
Standout performance of the segment perhaps came from McLaren's Fernando Alonso, who made it through to Q3 in P10. Ruled out after the second session were Haas' Kevin Magnussen in 11th place, Sainz, Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, the second Haas of Romain Grosjean and Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein.
Hamilton maintained his grip on P1 after the first runs of Q3. Bottas was first across the line but a big slide through the last corner left the Finn with a time of 1:19.390. That was swiftly eclipsed by Hamilton who set a new benchmark of 1:19.149.
- Max's fifth place in quali gives him his third top-10 start in a row in Spain.
- Max was third quickest through S3 in qualifying today with a time of 27.965s.
- Max was also third fastest across the finish with a top speed of 289.8kph.
- Hamilton's 64th pole leaves him one behind all-time record holder Ayrton Senna.
Behind the Mercedes pair, Raikkonen was third, ahead of Vettel and the third row of the grid was provisionally filled by the Red Bulls, with Max to the fore, almost half a second clear of Daniel.
In the final runs, Vettel managed to score the biggest improvement of the top four, though it wasn't enough to dislodge Hamilton from P1. The Ferrari man missed out on pole by just five hundredths of a second. Bottas was third after setting the fastest first sector of the session, Raikkonen made a mistake in the final stretch to finish fourth.
Max cemented himself into fifth place by finding a few hundredths of a second and while Daniel didn't close in he had plenty in hand over Alonso who hauled his McLaren to P7 at his home circuit. He finished ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez, Massa, and the second Force India of Esteban Ocon.