Lewis Hamilton edged out early Formula 1 championship rival Sebastian Vettel in qualfying for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix to take his third pole position of the season.
Hamilton arrived in Barcelona trailing Vettel by 13 points in the drivers’ championship, but took a big step towards cutting his lead with a charge to pole in Q3.
The Briton’s first Q3 lap of 1:19.149 was good enough for pole, with Vettel’s final effort in qualifying saw him fall 0.051 seconds shy, leaving the German to settle for second place.
Vettel’s qualifying very nearly ended in Q1 when Ferrari told him to stop on-track after an engine issue, the team having replaced the power unit in his car following final practice.
Vettel was able to resolve the problem in the car and went on to set some quick laps, allowing him to outqualifying Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes, the Finn ending Q3 in third place. Kimi Raikkonen followed in P4, 0.29s off Hamilton’s time.
Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo took P5 and P6 for Red Bull, but one of the stand-out stories of qualifying was Fernando Alonso’s charge to P7 for McLaren.
Amid ongoing problems with the Honda power unit used by the team, Alonso dug deep and was able to beat Sergio Perez, Felipe Massa and Esteban Ocon, who rounded out the top 10.
Haas’ updates for the VF-17 car failed to give it the boost in one-lap pace the team had hoped for as Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean qualified 11th and 14th respectively. Grosjean’s final run was lost when he went off-track in the final sector, spurning the chance to get up into Q3. Carlos Sainz Jr. qualified 12th for Toro Rosso ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Sauber managed to get one of its cars through to Q2 as Pascal Wehrlein qualified P15, edging out teammate Marcus Ericsson by just 0.005 seconds to leave the Swede 16th on the grid.
Jolyon Palmer and Lance Stroll struggled to match their respective teammates at Renault and Williams, finishing 17th and 18th, while Stoffel Vandoorne’s Q1 misery continued as he was eliminated at the first hurdle for the fifth race in a row, qualifying 19th. Daniil Kvyat propped up the order in P20 for Toro Rosso.
The Spanish Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.