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Hamilton secures third pole of season in Spain [UPDATED]

Lewis Hamilton took pole position on Saturday in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, while Sebastian Vettel managed to nab second and deny Mercedes a clean-sweep of the front-row.

Hamilton comfortably took provisional pole after the first runs in the top-ten shootout at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, posting a 1 minute 19.149 second lap, to leave him 0.241secs up on team-mate, Valtteri Bottas.

However, he was unable to improve on his second run, and that almost let Ferrari in, although in the end Vettel crossed the line and was 0.051secs down – and 0.173secs up on Bottas.

It was Hamilton’s third pole of the season, the 64th of his career (to leave him just one behind Ayrton Senna) and the 250th F1 pole by a British driver.

“Amazing job by the team today and I am just super proud that we could finally get back up there [after my struggles in Sochi]. It’s just such a better weekend so far,” Hamilton said.

“The first lap in Q3 was very, very good and Q1 and Q2 was good, but the last lap [in Q3] was so, so.

“But I could hear the crowd cheering and could see the flags. It is always a morale boost. These guys make the weekend what it is. I feel like I have really grown a lot in Spain over the last ten years and I really appreciate all the support.”

Vettel blamed a lock-up at the end for his failure to get pole, but after an engine change coming into the session and a scare at the start – when Ferrari initially told him to stop – he wasn’t too disappointed with P2.

“I’m afraid it [the lock-up] was what cost me pole. I don’t know. I have been coming here a long time and have done so many laps and still it is the last chicane – it is a tricky one for me. But it was very close and so well done to Lewis,” Vettel noted.

“Overall a busy morning and a big thank-you to the team because we had to change the engine at the last minute and the car was just about finished [for the start of qualifying]. Today is for all the mechanics – and also those on Kimi’s car because they helped out. So, thank-you.

“It was unbelievable – they did an engine change in sub-two hours. If you ever see a car stripped there is a lot of bits and bobs and it all needs to be reconnected. It is a miracle they got me out.

“It would have been nice to get them pole but hopefully we can do well tomorrow.”

Bottas also had engine dramas – but overnight and has reverted to an old engine for the rest of the weekend.

“It is always a good starting point when you are starting from the second row. It wasn’t the best lap of my weekend and also we had to go back to the old engine this morning. That for sure did not help, but the guys did a great job getting the car back on track,” Bottas remarked.

Behind, Kimi Raikkonen, who had been quickest in final practice, took fourth – 0.066secs off P3 and 0.239secs off Vettel in the sister car.

Red Bull Racing were ‘best of the rest’, with Max Verstappen fifth, around half a second off pole and almost the same amount up on team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in P6.

Local star Fernando Alonso put his Friday woes behind him and took a brilliant seventh place on the grid in the under-powered McLaren Honda, much to the delight of the home crowd.

“It was definitely a good qualifying for us and P7 is a gift,” Alonso said. “We will see what we can do tomorrow from here. I think this is a circuit that is difficult to overtake on and so we will try to keep the position.”

Force India’s Sergio Perez will join Alonso on the fourth row, ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa and the other Force India of Esteban Ocon.

Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen ended Q2 in P11, 0.078 seconds adrift of a place in Q3. Carlos Sainz was then 12th for Toro Rosso – 0.042secs further back, and only 0.026secs up on Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault in P13.

Romain Grosjean wound up 14th after a lock-up on his first run in Q2 and an off at Turn 13 on his final run – a repeat of his spin at the start of Q1 – saw him unable to progress in his Haas. Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein was 15th and slowest in the second session.

In Q1, Marcus Ericsson just missed out on progressing, finishing just 0.005secs off Wehrlein in the sister car. Renault’s Jolyon Palmer could do no better than 17th with Williams rookie Lance Stroll, McLaren-Honda’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso pilot Daniil Kvyat in positions 18 through to 20.

Full qualifying times available – HERE.

Picture credit: Mercedes

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