Lewis Hamilton has narrowly edged home Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas under the Spanish sun to claim pole position for tomorrow’s sixth round of the Formula 1 World Championship at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Having found himself down by 0.059s after the first Q3 runs, Bottas was one of only a few drivers to have seemingly improved on his time during his final flying lap, going purple in the middle sector.
But a frustrating final sector plagued by errors saw the Finn miss out on scoring his third pole of the year while Hamilton’s benchmark time was enough to cinch his 150th front row start.
It was a two-horse race up front with Max Verstappen third and over seven-tenths behind the imperious Mercedes duo as the Dutchman achieved his first top-three start in Spain, the venue of his maiden win back in 2016.
Racing Point looked vulnerable to the likes of McLaren and Renault across free practice but the pink panthers turned the wick up in qualifying to lockOout 4-5 on the grid. Sergio Perez made his return after missing both Silverstone races having tested for Covid-19 and will start ahead of his teammate Lance Stroll.
Sebastian Vettel commented in the build-up to qualifying that the all-new chassis Ferrari had developed for him could draw an end to his qualifying misery.
But it was all Castles in Spain for the four-time world champion who was knocked out of Q2 after a blistering lap by Pierre Gasly demoted Vettel to 11th, two spots behind stablemate Charles Leclerc in ninth.
Alex Albon was once again outmuscled by his Red Bull counterpart but still lines-up a respectable sixth ahead of Carlos Sainz who made an error on his first run and found himself last. The Spaniard recovered to end up seventh to edged out McLaren teammate Lando Norris one-tenth.
One of the more exciting moments in qualifying as Kimi Raikkonen set a strong last gasp effort in Q1 to sit 15th to scrap through into the second segment of qualifying for the first time this year. The Finn would then improve on his time in Q2 to finish 14th.
It was reverse fortunes for George Russell who missed out on Q2 for the first time since the Austrian Grand Prix as the Brit struggled to get to grips with the ailing FW43.
The Spanish Grand Prix will round out the final leg in F1’s second successive tripleheader and will get underway from 1.10 am NZT.