Can Mercedes fight for pole?

( – The qualification for the Spanish Grand Prix (from 16:00 in the Formula 1 live ticker) could be a three-way battle for pole position for the first time this season. For in addition to the favorites Ferrari and Red Bull, Mercedes was also able to confirm their improved form at the final training session on Saturday afternoon in Barcelona.

George Russell is closer to the top two teams than expected



George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished in third and fourth place, 0.148 and 0.230 seconds left, respectively. In the first sector, Russell even set the absolute best time, 0.221 seconds ahead of Charles Leclerc’s (Ferrari) fastest time. The Mercedes newcomer lost three tenths of a second in the second sector and two tenths of a second in the third to Leclerc’s best time of 1: 19.772 minutes.

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Verstappen is not satisfied with the setup

Second was Max Verstappen (Red Bull / +0.072), who was not happy with the setup, at least before his last qualifying simulation. In the last winding sector with the narrow harassment he had understeer, he broadcast radio: “The car steers terribly.” In fact, at that point, he lost 0.137 seconds to Carlos Sainz (Ferrari).

Sainz, meanwhile, was fastest in the last sector, but eventually could not improve as much as its immediate competitors and dropped back to fifth place (+0.357). Behind him were Sergio Perez (Red Bull / +0.488), Lando Norris (McLaren / +0.631) and Kevin Magnussen (Haas / +0.874). This left eight drivers within a second.

Marko: Ferrari rise is ‘alarming’

Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko analyzes the ‘ORF’: “We are closer to Ferrari, but we still have problems in sector 2. It is alarming that Ferrari mostly fixed the problems in the long run. Leclerc’s long – term was very constant. Times will see what compromise we can find for the qualifying round without sacrificing race performance. “

Toto Wolff cautious despite strong Mercedes training

Mercedes finished second and third after Charles Leclerc in the 2nd FT in Barcelona. Team manager Toto Wolff remains cautious.

“Mercedes is there, I would say. It will be a close race between Mercedes, Ferrari and us,” said the Austrian. His compatriot Alexander Wurz contradicts the ‘ORF’ microphone: “I do not see it that way. I think Mercedes will be two and a half, three tenths behind in qualifying.”

For Mick Schumacher, the last training session after the encouraging Friday did not go according to plan. He had just driven four laps when he reported on the pit radio: “My rear brakes are burning!” And came to the garage to the right behind with a burning brake, where the mechanics were immediately ready with the fire extinguisher.

Steiner sees a chance for progress at Haas

At that point, team manager Günther Steiner gave an interview from the command post. In which he initially expressed his satisfaction: “We can drive quite low without having ‘bounce’. You can see that because the sparks fly. We have made good progress there,” he said happily on ‘ORF’ until he saw Schumacher’s car .

Before then, Pierre Gasly had suffered a similar fate. The Frenchman had only completed one installation round when he came back to the pit with his rear smoking and had to go out and look. Although the mechanics started immediately, neither Gasly nor Schumacher were able to drive again after the incident.

Haas: The cause of the fire has been clarified

At Haas, the cause is now known: “Brake-by-wire overheated and broke into flames,” reports Steiner. “But we do not yet know if it was electronic or mechanical what exactly triggered it. The damage is quite extensive. We may need to replace the entire transmission unit with suspension and wings.”

The “green Red Bull”, more specifically the completely renewed Aston Martin, was unable to put himself in the spotlight in the final training session. Sebastian Vettel was number twelve, Lance Stroll number 16, after the best time: 1,172 and 1,748 seconds respectively.

Tires are a major issue in qualifying

In any case, it will be “extremely difficult” for the drivers in the qualification, predicts Williams team manager Jost Capito on ‘Sky’: “One day you need a car that has a lot of downforce. Our car does not, so the track does not fit necessarily to our car. On the other hand, at these temperatures, it’s a cooling problem. “

“And there is also a tire problem. The qualifying tires do not even last for a full fast lap. It becomes a problem. You have to protect the tires in the first sector of the fast qualifying round so you can still use the third sector,” says Capito .

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