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Lewis Hamilton restores Mercedes' dominance with pole position ahead of Sebastian Vettel at Spanish Grand Prix

The Independent logo The Independent 13-05-2017 Sports Staff
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Lewis Hamilton took pole position ahead of Sebastian Vettel at the Spanish Grand Prix, restoring Mercedes' dominance in Formula One qualifying on Saturday.

Hamilton gave Mercedes its 19th pole in 20 races, two weeks after F1 leader Vettel had broken its run at the Russian GP in a one-two with Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton was fastest in 1 minute, 19.149 seconds, with Vettel only 0.051 behind.

“I think it is going to be a tough race for us, when you see how close it is between us — it is milliseconds," Hamilton said. "It is a long run down the first turn, so it is important to get a good start.”

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, who won the race in Russia, was third, followed by Raikkonen, setting the stage for another duel between the front-running teams on Sunday.

It was Hamilton's 64th career pole and his third in five races this year, putting the three-time world champion in position to challenge Vettel for the series lead on Sunday.

Max Verstappen, the 2016 winner at a record age of 18, and fellow Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo will start the race from fifth and sixth on the grid.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso bounced back from Friday's breakdown just two laps into practice in fine fashion, making the third session of qualifying for the first time this year and finishing a season-best seventh.

It was a busy morning in the garages of both Mercedes and Ferrari, which had to replace engines.

Bottas missed all but eight minutes of the third and final practice session earlier when two separate mechanical problems led to his team needing to replace his engine with the one used through the first four races.

Ferrari also had to change the power unit of Vettel's car following his precautionary stop in pit lane near the end of the third practice because of a “telemetry issue.”

With the new engine in place, Vettel's car gave him a scare when he slowed down just two laps into qualifying, and his team ordered him to return to the garage. But the problem solved itself and Vettel continued on the track.

With two wins in four races, Vettel leads Hamilton by 13 points in the standings. Bottas is another 10 points adrift.

Hamilton won at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in 2014, one of 10 different winners in as many years at the race often used by teams to bring major upgrades to their cars.

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