Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Hamilton back on pole in Spanish Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton took pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix for the second year in a row on Saturday with Ferrari's championship leader Sebastian Vettel alongside the Mercedes driver on the front row.

Hamilton's pole is the team's fifth consecutive pole position in Barcelona and puts the Stevenage-born racer one behind his hero Ayrton Senna in the all-time list. Stroll had also been better than the 17 th time at the end of three sessions of free practice regulations.

With two wins in four races, Vettel leads the drivers' championship with 86 points ahead of Hamilton on 73 with Bottas up to third with 63 points. I'm disappointed I didn't get a better result I'm happy with how we've been running.

"I've been coming here a long time, so many laps, and still the last chicane is a tricky one for me", he said.

Although Lewis Hamilton took pole position, he did so by the narrowest of margins over Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari and with their respective teammates Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen only marginally slower, this race looks set to continue the struggle between the sport's two heavyweight teams.

The victor of last year's race, Max Verstappen, who in doing so became the youngest driver to claim a grand prix victory, qualified in fifth, ahead of his Red Bull team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, in sixth.

Vettel's auto needed an engine change between final practice and qualifying, and he praised his mechanics for their efforts in getting it all done with minutes to spare. Ferrari had to work at an extraordinary speed to fit a new engine to the German's vehicle after the final practice session, when they discovered a water leak. If you ever see the vehicle stripped there's a lot of bits and bobs that need to be reconnected so it's a miracle they got me out.

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Alonso produced what Martin Brundle described as the "lap of the weekend" to reach Q3 for the first time this season before improving further in the top 10 shootout to claim seventh place.

Had Vettel not decided not to switch off his engine when instructed to do so by his engineers at the start of the qualifying session, or had he not waited sufficiently to follow that instruction so that he went past the first turn-out he could have take to place his auto in a protective position by the side of the track, he might not then have detected that his engine was actually okay.

Hamilton said: "That was a really intense qualifying".

Raikkonen felt pole was possible but ended up fourth quickest, 0.290s off the pace of pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, who pipped Vettel by just 0.051s.

An impressive lap from Fernando Alonso gave McLaren a much needed boost before the Spanisard's adoring home crowd.

Valtteri said: "For most of the weekend we've had the edge on Ferrari but in Q3 they raised their game".

"It was better than expected but the support from the people gives you a few extra tenths". Sergio Perez, Felipe Massa and Esteban Ocon complete the top 10. "But when I consider where we were this morning, I think we made a really good recovery".

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