Lewis Hamilton storms to Spanish Grand Prix pole

Mercedes driver secures 92nd starting slot of F1 career ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas

epa08605517 British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes-AMG Petronas (R) and Finnish Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes-AMG Petronas (L) after the qualifying session of the Formula One Grand Prix of Spain at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmelo, Spain, 15 August 2020. Lewis Hamilton took pole position while Valtteri Bottas second. The 2020 Formula One Grand Prix of Spain will take place on 16 August 2020.  EPA/Albert Gea / Pool
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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton stormed to his 92nd Formula One pole position on Saturday when he outpaced team-mate Valtteri Bottas during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The six-time world champion clocked a best lap of one minute and 15.584 seconds to take the starting slot ahead of title rival Bottas by 0.059 seconds.

It was Hamilton's fourth pole of the year and fifth in Spain and brought with it his 150th front row start.

"I couldn't go quicker on my second lap, which I thought I could, but the first lap was a good job thankfully," said Hamilton.

"I was here with my guys until 10 last night just looking all the details and how to improve because the Red Bull guys are super fast."

Bottas said: "I knew it was going to be close with Lewis, as always. The start will be my best chance."

Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who is second in the overall standing 30 points behind Hamilton, was 0.708sec back in third.

The Dutchman was ahead of the two Racing Points of Sergio Perez, back in action after missing two races with coronavirus, and Lance Stroll. Alex Albon took sixth place in the second Red Bull.

"This is our maximum, but I hope we can do better in the race. Tomorrow is a different day again," Verstappen said.

Carlos Sainz was seventh ahead of his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri.

On a hot day at the Circuit de Catalunya, the air temperature was 30 degrees Celsius and the track a sweltering 50 degrees as Q1 began with the Williams drivers leading the way.

Hamilton topped the initial runs ahead of the two Racing Points. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was 11th ahead of Daniil Kvyat of Alpha Tauri, Daniel Ricciardo of Renault, Raikkonen and Esteban Ocon, in the second Renault.

"It must be one of the most difficult challenges he has faced in his career," observed 2016 champion Nico Rosberg, talking on Sky Sports F1 of Vettel's plight.

In Q3, Hamilton was fastest again on the opening runs, securing provisional pole ahead of Bottas by 0.059 with Verstappen third, seven-tenths adrift of the champion – a gap that may be reduced next time with the likely ban on 'party' modes for qualifying.