Lewis Hamilton claimed the 100th pole position of his Formula 1 career as Mercedes’ supreme run at the Spanish Grand Prix continued.
The usual leading three suspects fought it out for pole position at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and the quickest efforts came through the first Q3 runs.
Hamilton’s benchmark of 1:16.741s left him just 0.036s clear of title rival Max Verstappen but it was sufficient as neither improved during the final push efforts.
Valtteri Bottas was third, just over a tenth down on his team-mate, as the leading trio finished comfortably clear of the rest.
The Briton is the first driver in Formula 1 history to reach a century of pole positions and he is now 32 clear of Michael Schumacher in the all-time list.
The lap also continued Mercedes’ dominance at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, despite the small margin, with the squad having taken pole position at the venue across each of the last nine seasons.
Leclerc leads tight midfield
The front three had a margin of six-tenths over the chasing pack and that group was led by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon performed strongly to take fifth spot while Carlos Sainz was the quicker of the home representatives in sixth position, as Fernando Alonso finished at the foot of the top 10.
McLaren had a relatively subdued display by the standards of its improved 2021 pace, with Daniel Ricciardo taking seventh, and Lando Norris.
Sergio Perez had a troubled session in Red Bull as he struggled to get anywhere near Verstappen.
Perez spun through Turn 13 on his first Q3 push lap and wound up only eighth at the conclusion of the session.
Aston Martin fails to make top 10
Aston Martin’s lacklustre start to 2021 continued as neither Lance Stroll nor Sebastian Vettel made it through to Q3.
The team, which had qualified fourth and fifth at Barcelona last August, was left with Stroll in 11th place and Vettel down in 13th.
They were split by Pierre Gasly, whose string of Q3 appearances came to an end.
Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell did well to beat their respective team-mates and make Q2 but were never realistic contenders to make the top 10.
Giovinazzi was 14th with Russell some way off in Q2, compared to his Q1 effort, as he finished 15th.
Tsunoda falls at first hurdle
Yuki Tsunoda starred on his debut in Bahrain but since then his fortunes have somewhat dipped.
The Japanese youngster’s difficult run continued as he fell on the wrong side of the Q1 cut-off and was left down in 16th position.
Kimi Raikkonen had been inside the top 10 during final practice but that form dissolved in qualifying as the 2007 World Champion took only 17th.
Mick Schumacher built on his and Haas’ encouraging display in Portugal as the rookie took 18th, out-qualifying Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, who broke a mirror when he ran heavily over the Turn 9 exit kerbs.
Nikita Mazepin brought up the rear once more, seven-tenths behind his Haas team-mate.
Sunday’s 66-lap Spanish Grand Prix is scheduled for 15:00 local time
|Carlos Sainz Jr