Hamilton's Last Party

Pole of the British with 59 thousandths on Bottas. The FIA plans to abolish the 'party mode' of maximum power from Spa. Carlos Sainz will start seventh.


It does not matter if they are 59 thousandths, those of this Saturday, or the border of the tenth is exceeded. The distance between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas is fluid, widening and contracting, but never disappearing. He becomes insurmountable, the Viking can reach his best level ever, fly in every training, grow a beard or follow a vegan diet like his partner; he can set the record for each sector, as he did in Q3, and check when crossing the finish line that pole is again for the Briton. Hamilton beat each of the pulses and claimed first position on the Barcelona grid with his penultimate attempt. It's 92 poles for him, more than anyone in all of history. He aspires to get on the podium for the 156th time, more than anyone in history (he would tie the tie with Schumacher) and win for the 88th time, one step away from the Kaiser's 91. After all, their fight is not against the long-suffering Valtteri, but against the gods of Olympus.

However, the Mercedes party has a certain air of epilogue or farewell. Perhaps Montmeló's was the last classification of the famous party mode. The FIA has recently explored, through a confidential letter (which will be translated into a technical directive), the possibility of prohibiting engine maps differentiated between classification and race (because it is unable to corroborate, in all situations, their legality) and the next Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps is pointed out as a possible deadline. Horses will be lost, the four or five magic laps per weekend that these engine maps allow are up to two or three tenths of an improvement. Authoritative voices from the paddock say that the superiority of the black cars will remain, but these levels of excellence that only Mercedes have signed may not be reached again.

Max Verstappen will once again be the alternative at the Circuit de Barcelona. He qualified seven tenths behind Lewis, although he saved the gap over Racing Points and aims to complicate life, if possible, and give excitement on a circuit where there are few overtaking doors. Checo Pérez was fourth, better than Stroll. At times it seemed that Carlos Sainz would complete that second row, his performance in Q1 and Q2 was impeccable and his fastest lap of the day would have placed him even ahead of Albon. In the end he will start seventh, he had to do his best on his final lap, ahead of his teammate in 2020, Lando Norris, and that of 2021, Charles Leclerc.

Slopes of the soft Pirelli

The temperature will be a key factor in the race, the thermometers registered 49ºC on the asphalt this Saturday, but the teams are not restless like the week before at Silverstone because everyone, young and old, bet on the middle in Q2 to start the race. The two-stop strategy seems almost mandatory in these circumstances. There were no surprises, precisely, in the second eliminatory cut, because it is not new that Sebastian Vettel is left out, eleventh. In his favor, they were barely two tenths over Leclerc. It was striking that the two Renault were so far from the top-10, an advantage for Woking in the race, because the tough Alpha Tauri slipped between them. The crush was Kimi Raikkonen, who classified his impoverished Alfa Romeo 14th and escaped from the first sieve, where the Haas, Williams and Giovinazzi remained.

Photos from as.com
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