Lewis Hamilton secured pole position for tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix in a closely-contested qualifying session at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday. The three-time champion resisted a powerful late challenge in the final seconds of Q3 from championship-leading four-time champion, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton noses ahead of Vettel in qualifying
“It was very close, but well done to Lewis”, Vettel told reporters afterwards. “And a big thank you to my team. I'm afraid it was my lock-up at the end of the lap that made the difference. It was a really good lap up to the final chicane”.
Beaming from ear to ear, Hamilton said his first lap had been “very, very good, but the last lap was only so-so... But I am super proud that we are back up there”. He clocked a best lap of one minute and 19.149 seconds to stay ahead of Vettel, who crossed the line on 1:19.200, by the narrowest of margins after the German had required a rapid engine change shortly before the session began.
Hamilton closes in on Ayrton Senna's pole tally
It was the 64th pole of Hamilton's career, lifting him to within one of his childhood hero Ayrton Senna, on 65, and four from Michael Schumacher on 68.
Valtteri Bottas, in the second Mercedes, who also had an engine change on Saturday morning, and Kimi Raikkonen, in the second Ferrari, were third and fourth fastest. Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, who won last year's race on debut with Red Bull, was fifth ahead of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo with local hero Fernando Alonso grabbing a very popular seventh against the odds for McLaren-Honda.
Hamilton ran wide at Turn Five, but was fastest in Q2 by a narrow margin -- less than a tenth -- ahead of Vettel and Bottas, but the lap that lifted the crowd came from Alonso, who reached the top ten shootout for the first time this year, 24 hours after yet another engine failure on Friday. For the Spaniard, who will be heading to the Indianapolis 500 instead of Monaco later this month, it was a personal triumph four years after his last victory, with Ferrari in Spain, in 2013.