Barcelona, Spain – Lewis Hamilton took pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix for the second successive year on Saturday, with Ferrari’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel just missing out but joining the Mercedes driver on the front row.
The pole was the 64th of the Briton’s career, one short of his late Brazilian boyhood idol Ayrton Senna on the all-time list and with record holder Michael Schumacher’s 68 in his sights.
It was also the 250th by a British driver in Formula One.
All but three of the past 16 races in
“I’m super proud that we can get back up there. My last lap was so-so, but I could see the fans cheering and all the flags,” said the triple champion, interviewed on the finish line in front of the crowd in a new departure for the sport.
Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, who became Formula One’s youngest winner in
Vettel’s car needed an engine change between final practice and qualifying, and he praised his mechanics for their efforts in getting it all done with minutes to spare.
“They did an engine change in sub-two hours. It’s a miracle they got me out,” he said.
On a rollercoaster afternoon, the German missed out on a second successive pole by a mere 0.051 of a second after locking up and running wide at the final chicane. “I had it, I had it,” he said ruefully over the radio.
He could at least thank his lucky stars, or years of experience, to get that far after being told to stop the car soon after qualifying had started. The four-time world champion hesitated to obey the instruction, however.
“Seems better now,” he said and carried on.
“Okay, box, Sebastian, box,” he was told.
“Okay, you can push,” came the eventual radio message from the pit wall, with the problem apparently resolved. He then set the fastest lap of the session before
Double world champion Fernando Alonso, whose McLaren broke down in first practice and was slowest overall on Friday, enjoyed a miraculous transformation – and delighted his home crowd – by qualifying an astonishing seventh.
“Maybe it was at the oval (where) I learnt how to go quick on the straights,” said the Spaniard, who will leave
“Sometimes the weekends start the wrong way but then they fix themselves, and vice versa. The important thing is tomorrow, to try to get a few points,” he added.
“It was better than expected, but the support from the people gives you a few extra tenths.”
GRID1 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes
2 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari
3 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes
4 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari
5 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull
6 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull
7 Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren
8 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India
9 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams
10 Esteban Ocon (France) Force India
11 Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) Haas
12 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso
13. Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Renault
14 Romain Grosjean (France) Haas
15. Pascal Wehrlein (Germany) Sauber
16 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber
17 Jolyon Palmer (Britain) Renault
18 Lance Stroll (Canada) Williams
19 Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium) McLaren
20 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso