Barcelona - Lewis
Hamilton roared back to form and secured a stunning pole position for
Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix when he delivered a record-breaking
qualifying lap on Saturday.
The defending four time world champion and current series leader
broke the track lap record with a series of laps that culminated in him
clocking 1:16.173, 0.040 seconds ahead of his team-mate Finn Valtteri
Bottas as Mercedes locked up the front row of the grid.
It was Hamilton's second pole this season, after the season-opening
race in Australia, his third straight in Spain and the 74th of his
career. It broke Sebastian Vettel's streak after three straight poles.
German four-time champion Vettel was third fastest for Ferrari ahead
of his team-mate 2007 champion Finn Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bulls of
Dutchman Max Verstappen and Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Dane Kevin Magnussen of Haas was seventh ahead of two-time champion
and home hero Fernando Alonso of McLaren, fellow-Spaniard Carlos Sainz
of Renault and Frenchman Carlos Sainz of Renault.
The top four were separated by only 0.132 seconds at the end of the
session - which promises a close race on Sunday at the Circuit de
"I needed this pole - I've not had one for a while," said Hamilton
who leads Vettel in the drivers' title race by just four points after
"And it's a Mercedes one-two which is great here. There is always a
great atmosphere here with loads of British fans and even Spanish fans
supporting us, which is great too!"
Bottas said: "It was close, like it has been all week. I ruined my
first run in Q3 so I really only had one chance. It is a shame it is
only four-hundredths, but it is good for the team. Now we want to get
the one-two we deserved in Baku…"
Vettel said he was happy with his lap.
"I was feeling good too and I
looked at the tower and then I saw my name didn't go up – but, then, we
expected Mercedes to be strong.
"Let's see what happens now tomorrow. I hope everyone will enjoy it!"
The Q1 session began in mild conditions with rain threatening and soon produced drama.
After being accused of "sand bagging" by Hamilton, Ferrari quickly
showed they had more pace than expected by rising to the top of the
times with Vettel outpacing Raikkonen.
New Zealander Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso was not among the runners
following his huge accident at the end of final practice, which left
the rear end of his car wrecked after spinning into the barriers at high
He will have to ask the race stewards for permission to take part in
Sunday’s race even if his car is repaired and he can prove his fitness.
He was classified 20th and was eliminated along with German Nico
Hulkenberg, who suffered fuel problems with his Renault, Swede Marcus
Ericsson of Sauber and Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin and his Williams
team-mate Canadian teenager Lance Stroll.
The second qualifying session began with the top four delivering
record-breaking laps as both Mercedes and Ferrari scorched around the
circuit, Vettel topping them off with a 1:16.8 to go quickest.
Hamilton tested a set of super-softs before the session ended with
Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren, Frenchman Pierre Gasly of Toro
Rosso, the Force India pairing of Frenchman Esteban Ocon and Mexican
Sergio Perez, and Frenchman Charles Leclerc of Sauber eliminated from
the final round.
The top ten all went out on super-softs at the start of Q3 with
Hamilton smashing the records again in 1:16.491 to run three-tenths
clear of nearest rival Verstappen as Red Bull mounted a stunning
Ferrari, unexpectedly, were pushed back to fifth and seventh, 0.7 and
1.7 seconds adrift respectively with Ricciardo third for Red Bull
before the final runs when Hamilton delivered his stunner.
Grid for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix:
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes)
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari)
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari)
Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-TAG Heuer)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull-TAG Heuer)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren-Renault)
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Renault)
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas-Ferrari)
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/McLaren-Renault)
Pierre Gasly (FRA/Toro Rosso-Honda)
Esteban Ocon (FRA/Force India-Mercedes)
Charles Leclerc (MON/Sauber-Ferrari)
Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India-Mercedes)
Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Renault)
Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber-Ferrari)
Lance Stroll (CAN/Williams-Mercedes)
Sergey Sirotkin (RUS/Williams-Mercedes)
Brendon Hartley (NZL/Toro Rosso-Honda)