Spanish GP: Lewis Hamilton takes pole as Mercedes make it one-two

Spanish GP: Lewis Hamilton takes pole as Mercedes make it one-two

Hamilton suggested earlier in the weekend that Ferrari had been "sandbagging" in practice, and repeated the claim, albeit more jokingly, after his qualifying success - with Sebastian Vettel coming up just 0.132s short of pole on a late soft-tyre run.

He finished down in fourth, however, almost half a second off pole and three tenths behind team-mate Vettel.

Verstappen was also able to stay ahead of the Ferrari pair of Vettel and Raikkonen, a reminder that another triumph in Spain could well be within Red Bull's reach should they avoid a repeat of their Baku collision.

He won at this track in 2017, though, and with Mercedes locking out on the front row, Hamilton can hope for some assistance in keeping Vettel at bay.

Having only managed second, third and fourth place finishes before he inherited the win in Baku, Hamilton has a four-point lead over Vettel but will be buoyed how his team have the auto performing as needed at the opening of the European season.

With the Ferrari having the edge in pace over the opening races, Hamilton needs to exploit every chance he has to take advantage and extend his lead, and pole is the opening to the weekend he has been craving since Australia.

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"I didn't get a great feeling on that [supersoft] tyre", he said.

"The mistake this morning was a costly one and I missed the final hour of the session because of it", Ricciardo said.

"Yeah I mean overall it was a smooth session", said Vettel post-qualifying. It is now more challenging and you see us more exhausted after the race. "But we left testing with a good set-up and that should help us", the British racing driver said. Ferrari had looked strong but could not quite match their rivals. Lewis had a very good qualifying and, for us, as Lewis said, it's a flawless result for us and hopefully we can continue like this tomorrow. The auto was fine and we didn't have much to do. We don't know anything about engineering the vehicle but we know how it feels and the limitations to overtake, but we are never asked'. "Hats off to Mercedes but I think tomorrow will be a close race".

Sauber saw Marcus Ericsson come home in P15 and team mate Charles Leclerc one place behind, but it was another disappointing run out for Williams, who saw Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin finish bottom of the pile. "I guess they just know they have it and they just turn it up when they need it".

"It is a constant learning process but these tires they seem to have a small working window whether they give us more rubber or less rubber they appear to be a lot harder than a year ago even though they went softer".

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