Hamilton and Bottas lock-out Barcelona front row for Mercedes

Spanish Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his pole position
© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position in Saturday's qualifying session for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

It's Hamilton's first pole since the opening race of the 2018 season in March. He was four hundredths of a second faster than his team mate Valtteri Bottas to set up a Mercedes 1-2.

Having dominated qualifying up to this point, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen had no answer for the Silver Arrows pace and had to settle for the second row. Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo will complete the team two-by-two grid line-up in fifth and sixth place.

Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:17.633s1:17.166s1:16.173s
2Valtteri BottasMercedes1:17.674s1:17.111s1:16.213s
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1:17.031s1:16.802s1:16.305s
4Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:17.483s1:17.071s1:16.612s
5Max VerstappenRed Bull1:17.411s1:17.266s1:16.816s
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1:17.623s1:17.638s1:16.818s
7Kevin MagnussenHaas1:18.169s1:17.618s1:17.676s
8Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1:18.276s1:18.100s1:17.721s
9Carlos SainzRenault1:18.480s1:17.803s1:17.790s
10Romain GrosjeanHaas1:18.305s1:17.699s1:17.835s
11Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1:18.885s1:18.323s
12Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1:18.550s1:18.463s
13Esteban OconForce India1:18.813s1:18.696s
14Charles LeclercSauber1:18.661s1:18.910s
15Sergio PérezForce India1:18.740s1:19.098s
16Nico HülkenbergRenault1:18.923s
17Marcus EricssonSauber1:19.493s
18Sergey SirotkinWilliams1:19.695s
19Lance StrollWilliams1:20.225s
20Brendon HartleyToro Rosso

Q1: Vettel fastest, Hulkenberg eliminated, Stroll crashes

The high track temperatures of Friday were a distant memory as drivers emerged for the first round of qualifying. However the gusty winds that had abated for final practice were picking up again, and dark and overcast skies were hinting at a possible threat of rain during the hour.

Ferrari pair Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel quickly took up residence at the top of the timesheets on supersofts. The two Mercedes drivers then split them up, Lewis Hamilton taking second place ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Vettel's response was to put his foot down and go top with a lap of 1:17.031s, almost half a second clear of the rest.

Daniel Ricciardo's first run was good enough for fifth, until he was displaced by Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen and by McLaren's Fernando Alonso. The Haas pairing of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were next up, with Pierre Gasly rounding out the top ten in the Toro Rosso at the halfway point.

Carlos Sainz subsequently made his way into the top ten, but his Renault team mate Nico Hulkenberg hit problems with fuel pressure issues. It put him on the back foot and left him mired in the elimination zone along with Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and Williams team mates Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll. Stroll's final run ended up drifting wide at turn 12, spinning him into the gravel and broadsiding the barriers.

Also out of qualifying - and without even turning a wheel on Saturday afternoon - was Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley. His STR13 was having to be rebuilt from basics following a heavy accident at the end of FP3, but it's hoped the Kiwi will be able to take part in tomorrow's race.

Q2: Vettel continues to rule the roost

There was minimal delay retrieving Stroll's stricken FW41 before the start of the second round of qualifying. Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari all came out on soft compound tyres, with Hamilton drawing first blood with a time of 1:17.166s despite complaining about a lack of rear grip.

The two Ferraris then once again took control of the session, with Vettel posting a lap of 1:16.802s two tenths faster than Raikkonen. Bottas slipped into third ahead of his team mate, with the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo flying in formation ahead of the two Haas cars after their first runs.

Sainz flew the flag for Renault on supersofts in ninth with Stoffel Vandoorne on the bubble in tenth. The Belgian had been hoping to rely on soft tyres, while his Alonso was straight on to supersofts which put him into ninth and dropped his McLaren team mate into the elimination zone with six minutes remaining.

Only the top three felt safe enough to sit out the rest of the session on pit lane. Even Hamilton came back out for a safety run on supersofts, but he aborted the run and will therefore be able to start Sunday's race on the soft tyres. Magnussen improved to sixth but Ricciardo was still safely through along with Grosjean, Sainz and Alonso.

Vandoorne remained on the wrong side of the cut line and was duly eliminated. Also out at the end of Q2 were Gasly, Sauber's Charles Leclerc, and the two Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez.

Q3: Mercedes take command for front row lock-out

The gloves were finally off when the final top ten pole shootout round got underway. Hamilton was first to lay out his stall with a blistering initial run clocking in at 1:16.491s.

However it was the Red Bulls who suddenly found their speed to go go second and third, Verstappen narrowly pipping Ricciardo to the provisional front row. Bottas was fourth fastest after the first run, while suddenly the Ferraris were looking vulnerable with Vettel only managing fifth, seven tenths slower than Hamilton.

Raikkonen was in even worse shape, his first run only good enough for eighth behind Magnussen and Alonso. Grosjean was ninth fastest, while Sainz's opening banker lap was the slowest of the ten drivers still in contention.

After a brief hiatus, the cars were back out for their final runs. Hamilton shaved a few tenths off his earlier time to consolidate his grip on provisional pole, with Bottas four hundredths of a second behind to set up a Mercedes lock-out for tomorrow's race.

Raikkonen's second run was stronger and briefly put him third before he was shuffled back by Vettel. The Red Bulls had no answer to this and were demoted to the third row of the grid in fifth and sixth respectively for Verstappen and Ricciardo.

Magnussen and Alonso will start from seventh and eighth place. Sainz' final run was good enough to put him up to ninth place ahead of Grosjean.

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