Lewis Hamilton has bounced back from a disappointing weekend in Sochi to take pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton laid down a 1m 19.149 second laps during his first hot run in Q3 and it was enough to resign Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to second on the grid finishing just 0.051 seconds behind.
Bottas ended his run of pole starts and instead will line up in third spot at Barcelona while Raikkonen starts in his usual fourth place.
Verstappen out-qualified Ricciardo to have the Red Bull’s on fifth and sixth but McLaren’s Fernando Alonso undoubtedly produced the best drive of qualifying to take seventh on the grid.
Hamilton In The Hunt For Crucial Win
Hamilton claimed his 64th pole position in another close tussle with Vettel and Bottas.
Never able to truly mark his dominance, the Englishman put in a strong first lap in Q3 and it was just enough to edge out Vettel who improved his time considerably on the second run of hot laps despite locking his tyres on the final chicane.
It’s a pleasing return to form for Hamilton who was out of sorts at the last outing in Sochi and had been out-qualified by Bottas in two consecutive races.
And at a track that is extraordinarily hard to overtake – all but three of the last sixteen Spanish Grands Prix have been won by pole – Hamilton is well placed to close the gap to Vettel on the championship table.
“First Q3 lap was very, very good,” said Hamilton.
“The last lap was not quite as good. I was up by 0.2secs I think, but I didn’t finish it that way.”
“I didn’t make a mistake, but it is very gusty out there.”
Vettel Shows His Experience
Vettel was fortunate to even take part in qualifying following a last-minute scramble to replace his engine.
The German had started FP3 with a new engine but towards the end of the session he stopped in pit lane with a problem. Ferrari later discovered a minor water leak and rather than trying to repair the engine they took the gamble to fit a new one.
Vettel took to qualifying thanking his team over the radio only for his new engine to immediately lose power on the out lap. The team engineer told Vettel to stop the car but Vettel responded by asking: “Are you sure?”. His experience proved invaluable and a change of mode reignited the engine. Vettel continued in qualifying but a mistake on his final lap in Q3 meant he couldn’t catch Hamilton.
“The last chicane is a tricky one for me. It was very close, well done to Lewis,” said Vettel.
“It was a busy morning, big thank you to the team for the change in the last few minutes. They did an engine change in sub two hours. It is a miracle they got me out. It would have been nice to get them pole but hopefully a good race tomorrow.”
Alonso Shines At Home Race
McLaren’s start to the Spanish Grand Prix weekend seemed to take its normal course with near embarrassment on Friday.
Alonso’s involvement with FP1 ended on lap 2 when he spun on his own oil leak. The Spaniard then departed the track before the chequered flag had even come down for a spot of tennis.
“When they confirmed I had two hours free, instead of being here watching on television I went for some training.”
It must have paid off because Alonso delivered a sublime performance to qualify the under-performing McLaren in seventh position and offer hope to his adoring Spanish fans.
“P7 is a gift and we will see what we can do tomorrow. This is a circuit that is difficult to overtake but we will try to get a position.”