First placed Red Bull s Dutch driver Max Verstappen waves at the end of the qualifying session for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on June 3, 2023 in Montmelo, on the outskirts of Barcelona. Photo: AFP
The championship leader took his fifth pole of a season already dominated by Red Bull to start ahead of Ferrari's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz with Britain's Lando Norris of McLaren in third.
"Not bad," said Verstappen, with his customary understatement. "It’s very nice to come here and get my first pole. I like the circuit and I have a lot of good memories here."
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took fifth place on the grid, ahead of Canadian Lance Stroll of Aston Martin.
Local hero Fernando Alonso could only set the ninth fastest time after damaging his car when going off the track in the second qualifying period.
Frenchman Esteban Ocon of Alpine, who took third place in Monaco last weekend, will start in seventh, ahead of German Nico Huelkenberg of Haas, while Australian Oscar Piastri will complete the top 10 in a McLaren.
Qualifying was contested on a slippery track at the start of the session and it featured several big surprises.
First it was Monaco's Charles Leclerc who was eliminated in Q1 and he will only start in 19th and penultimate place.
Then Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate, Mexican Sergio Pérez, who made a mistake and took a lap in the gravel, was taken out in Q2 and will start in 11th, ahead of Briton George Russell, who also disappointed with the other Mercedes.
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