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Spanish GP: Lewis Hamilton storms to pole as Mercedes claim 1-2

Written by  May 13, 2018

Lewis Hamilton produced another remarkable qualifying performance to take his second pole of the season at the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday.

The Mercedes driver would improve on each of his laps in the important Q3 segment setting a new track record of 1m17.173s on the Supersoft tyre to end the three-race steak of Sebastian Vettel.

Valtteri Bottas almost emerged late on to spoil the party but the Finn would fall four-hundredths shy of his world champion teammate as Mercedes secured their first front row lockout of the year. 

After hiding their pace throughout practice, Ferrari unsurprisingly turned up the wick and were much more competitive when the action got serious in qualifying.

For their strong pace in the first two segments, however, their drivers struggled initially in Q3 with Vettel fifth and Kimi Raikkonen only seventh.

Both would switch to the Soft compound tyre for their second attempts, believing it offered better grip throughout the lap, and so it proved with the German moving up to third and the 2007 champion just behind in fourth.

That meant the demotion of the two Red Bull drivers as once again the lack of a special engine mode for a boost in performance over a single lap would hurt them massively.

Max Verstappen would be just 0.002s faster than Daniel Ricciardo in fifth and sixth respectively but ultimately, the RB14's would be over six-tenths slower than Hamilton's pole time, one of the biggest margins all year.

Haas proved they have made good progress with the Barcelona upgrades as Kevin Magnussen inserted himself as the lead midfield runner in seventh and Romain Grosjean also featured inside the top 10 in P10.

The two home favourites, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, gave the Spanish crowd something to cheer by taking the remaining Q3 positions in eighth and ninth.

Alonso's result marked the first time a McLaren has made the top 10 all season, while the Renault driver maintained his record of outqualifying his teammate every year at his home GP.

The second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne will hope to use his free tyre choice to make progress into the points from 11th as will Pierre Gasly who produced a strong lap in 12th for Toro Rosso.

Also impressive was Charles Leclerc, fresh from scoring his first F1 points in Baku two weeks ago, with the Monegasque 14th for Sauber.

He was the meat in a Force India sandwich as Esteban Ocon claimed 13th and teammate Sergio Perez struggling in P15.

Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise victim in Q1 as a fuel pressure problem left the German scrambling to set a time. He would get out on track, but improvements from others saw the Renault driver only 16th fastest.

Marcus Ericsson was a lowly 17th in the second Sauber, some six-tenths slower than teammate Leclerc, but the Swede wasn't helped by a late crash for Lance Stroll at Turn 12 bringing out the yellow flags in the closing moments.

The Canadian was behind his teammate Sergey Sirotkin as the two Williams' once again brought up the timesheet but a three-place grid penalty for the Russian will see him drop back.

Brendon Hartley suffered a big accident in final practice in the morning, spinning off at the near-flat out Campsa corner at around 160mph. The rear of his Toro Rosso would fall off as it was being recovered and unsurprisingly it was too badly damaged to be fixed in time for qualifying, meaning the Kiwi will start last.

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