Lewis Hamilton got his title challenge back on track by beating Nico Rosberg to pole at the Spanish Grand Prix. Having trailed Rosberg in final practice Hamilton put in a storming lap during the second phase of qualifying to beat his team-mate by six tenths, and kept his advantage in the final session.
Despite a massive lock-up into turn ten ruining his first attempt at a flying lap, Hamilton got it together for his second run to beat his Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mate by nearly three tenths of a second.
Behind them a delighted and no doubt relieved Daniel Ricciardo beat his new Red Bull Racing team rival Max Verstappen into third, despite having been behind the teenager all through qualifying. Verstappen looked like he had the initiative over the Australian, but Ricciardo fought back in the final minutes to grab third place.
It was disappointment in the Scuderia Ferrari garage however as despite promising to challenge the Mercedes, they fell back to finish over a second behind them. Both drivers seemed to struggle with the increase in track temperature during the session, and they will line up on the third row of the grid tomorrow, with Kimi Raikkonen managing to pip Sebastian Vettel with his final lap.
Behind them Valtteri Bottas managed to grab seventh for Williams Martini Racing ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso‘s Spanish racer Carlos Sainz Jr and the Sahara Force India of Mexican Sergio Perez, all three comfortably out qualifying their team-mates.
There was good news for Fernando Alonso as he managed to get a McLaren Honda into Q3 for the first time since the team renewed their partnership with the Japanese engine manufacturer at the beginning of 2015. His 1m24.192s lap in Q2 was enough to push the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg out by just nine thousandths of a second.
His team-mate Jenson Button wasn’t so lucky though, being eliminated along with Daniil Kvyat in his first race since returning to Toro Rosso. Romain Grosjean was also out in Q2, but continued his dominance over Haas F1 Team team-mate Esteban Gutierrez, who was three tenths and two positions behind him. Kevin Magnussen split the Haas duo in the leading Renault Sport F1 entry.
There was a shock in Q1 as Felipe Massa failed to get into the top sixteen for Williams. Despite his team-mate getting into the top ten with relative ease, Massa struggled to get a decent lap in, blaming traffic. He was joined on the sidelines by Jolyon Palmer, who had been complaining about his lack of running after missing FP1 and most of FP2, and both Sauber F1 Team drivers, Marcus Ericsson ahead of Felipe Nasr, and both Manor Racing cars, Pascal Wehrlein ahead of Rio Haryanto.
Tomorrow though all eyes will be on Lewis Hamilton to see if he can finally stop Rosberg’s run of wins and start reducing the deficit at the top of the championship.
Circuit de Catalunya Qualifying Result
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