Hamilton takes Spanish GP pole for 150th front row start, as Mercedes lock out front row

Lewis Hamilton gained pole position revenge over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to record an amazing 150th front row start, yet another record for the Englishman.

It was also Hamilton’s 92nd pole in F1 and fifth in Barcelona as he closes on that magical century, Max Verstappen once again holding the Racing Point duo at bay, the returning coronavirus-free Sergio Perez doing well to outqualify teammate Lance Stroll. Alexander Albon was next fastest in the second Red Bull, ahead of the McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, as Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten.

“Physically it’s tough and it’s so fast around here, it’s the fastest we’ve ever been around here so the forces through the body are pretty intense and the tyres are what we’re really struggling with,” said Hamilton, after notching up yet another record. “You see us crawling around on the out lap just to keep temperature out of the tyres but even with those slow laps you still have temperatures rising, so that’s what we’re trying to manage on the laps.

“I couldn’t go quicker on my second lap but the first one was decent, I guess, which did the job thankfully. These guys did such an awesome job and we’re constantly learning. I was with the guys until 10pm last night, going over the details, how we can improve, what are the areas during the race we can get better because these Red Bulls are super-fast.”

For Bottas, the race is not yet lost, but with Hamilton’s recent form the Finn knows that his best chance of race victory and pegging back the points difference will be out-dragging his teammate on the longest straight in F1 off the line.

“I knew it was going to be close with Lewis as always and I think the first lap of his final run was nice and clean, especially Sector 3,” said Bottas. “All day I have been struggling a bit in Sector 3. It was getting better and better but still not quite good enough, so of course it’s annoying but he did a good job and as a team again, first row. The start will be the best chance for me and on Friday my long runs were competitive, so I will have the pace, but the start is the best chance.”

Verstappen somehow found a way to emerge victorious over the dominant Mercedes duo for the first time this year in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, thanks to a successful alternate strategy. But with all of the top ten set to start on the softer rubber, his task will surely be a more difficult one on Sunday.

“It’s the maximum we can do at the moment. I think overall the whole weekend we have been P3 so pretty happy with that, I hope we can just be a bit closer in the race which yesterday in the long run didn’t seem too bad but tomorrow is another day again, so we just have to see,” said Verstappen. “I felt happy in the car, I just hope I can apply a bit of pressure. I know it’s very hard to overtake around here but we’re going to do everything we can to be close to them and try to make it a bit difficult.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.