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Lewis Hamilton takes pole in Spanish GP qualifying

2016-05-14 16:14:07

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton set a sensational pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix, beating Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg into second place.

Max Verstappen was fourth 0.407 seconds behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo after looking set to beat him.

It was nevertheless a highly impressive debut for the 18-year-old after his transfer to the Red Bull senior team.

Ferrari disappointed - Kimi Raikkonen fifth over a second slower than the Mercedes.

The Finn's team-mate Sebastian Vettel was sixth, 0.2secs off his team-mate.

Wow - Hamilton is back

Lewis HamiltonHamilton takes his 52nd career pole - third in the all-time list

It was Hamilton who stole the headlines, finding stunning pace in qualifying when he had appeared to be struggling all weekend.

He had been unable to match Rosberg in the tricky final sector of slow corners throughout the practice sessions and in the first part of qualifying.

But suddenly in the second part of qualifying he found a massive amount of time, lapping 0.6secs quicker than Rosberg.

Hamilton was on course for an even quicker lap on his first run in the top 10 shoot-out, setting fastest times in the first two sectors of the lap, only to brake too late for the hairpin at Turn 10 and leave himself third, behind Rosberg and Verstappen.

It added extra pressure on to his shoulders which he really did not need - he came into this race 43 points behind Rosberg in the championship after a difficult first four races.

But he nailed it on his final run, going even faster in the first two sectors, and adding the final part of the lap as well this time, to take pole by 0.280secs.

A smiling Hamilton said: "I'm very, very happy with getting the lap. Nico has been very strong all weekend so it has been one step at a time trying to bring the pace together."

He emphasised that it was "three out of three" for him in terms of pole positions - because he had not been able to compete in final qualifying in the Chinese and Russian Grands Prix as a result of technical problems.

A star is born

Max VerstappenMax Verstappen lost out to Daniel Ricciardo, but was impressive throughout qualifying

For a long time, it appeared as if Verstappen would be the star of qualifying, the teenager consistently edging Ricciardo by 0.2secs throughout qualifying.

But the Australian saved the best to last, producing a stellar final lap to comfortably beat his team-mate, whooping with delight over the team radio as he finished it.

Ricciardo said: "Max was doing really good - and we're both on the second run which is really awesome. It took a bit of time to come. I knew I had the pace but I had not got it altogether, but I did what I had to do."

Team boss Christian Horner praised Verstappen's performance, saying it justified the decision to promote him and drop Kvyat to the Toro Rosso team.

The Russian managed only 13th place, with team-mate Carlos Sainz eighth, behind Williams' Valtteri Bottas and ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso, who put a McLaren-Honda in the top 10 for the first time since their new relationship started in 2015.

'Sorry boss' - again

There will be an inquest at Ferrari, whose president Sergio Marchionne had said before the race that the team needed to start winning.

Instead, they were further away than they have been for some time - Raikkonen was 1.113secs off the pace and Vettel even further off.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is one that provides arguably the toughest test of a car's all-round capabilities, especially aerodynamics, and the results suggests the Italian team are as far away as ever from being able to match the teams with the best chassis.

Finally, McLaren, finally

Fernando AlonsoFernando Alonso reached the top 10 shoot out in his McLaren for the first since the team switched to Honda power

Alonso had the edge on team-mate Jenson Button all weekend, and he revelled in the McLaren's cornering prowess on this track where engine performance is not as crucial as on the first four of the season.

It demonstrates the performance improvements made by both McLaren and Honda this season - and justified their confidence that both cars can be in the top 10 at the next race in Monaco.

Button said: "I had a floaty rear weekend all weekend, which is not a nice thing and I had to adapt to it. I'm not used to it.

"It got it all right in the end but Fernando has been very quick all weekend and did a top job to get into Q3."

Spanish Grand Prix qualifying results


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