Lewis Hamilton stormed to his third pole position of the 2016 Formula 1 season with a stunning display in the final part of qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday.
Hamilton entered the race weekend 43 points behind Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship and without a win since the United States Grand Prix in October, but has given himself a great chance of ending this drought by taking pole position.
A mistake from Hamilton on his first flying lap in Q3 handed provisional pole to Rosberg, the German going eight-tenths of a second faster than his rival with his initial effort in the final session.
However, Hamilton more than made up for it with his final run in qualifying, going almost three-tenths of a second faster than Rosberg’s final lap to secure pole position in Barcelona.
Red Bull pulled off a surprise by outqualifying the Ferraris, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing third thanks to a fine single-lap run at the end of Q3.
Max Verstappen was quick to justify Red Bull’s decision to give him an early promotion, qualifying fourth in his first race for the team ahead of Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas qualified seventh for Williams ahead of home favorite Carlos Sainz Jr. and Force India’s Sergio Perez, while Fernando Alonso marked the first Q3 appearance for McLaren since it rekindled its engine partnership with Honda at the beginning of last year, qualifying 10th.
A late lap from Perez in Q2 dumped Force India teammate Nico Hulkenberg out in Q2, leaving the German 11th on the grid. He was joined in the dropzone by Jenson Button, who was unable to emulate Alonso’s achievement in the sister McLaren by making it into Q3.
Daniil Kvyat’s first qualifying session back at Toro Rosso proved disappointed as he only finished 13th, while Haas also struggled as Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez qualified P14 and P16 respectively, split by Kevin Magnussen in the lead Renault.
A mis-timed and traffic-filled final run in Q1 left Williams red-faced as Felipe Massa was eliminated early on, leaving him 18th on the grid for tomorrow’s race behind Renault’s Jolyon Palmer.
Sauber struggled once again as both its drivers were eliminated at the first hurdle, Marcus Ericsson finishing 19th ahead of teammate Felipe Nasr in P20. Manor once again propped up the qualifying timesheets with Pascal Wehrlein 21st ahead of Rio Haryanto.