BARCELONA • Lewis Hamilton took pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix for the second year in a row yesterday, with Ferrari's championship leader Sebastian Vettel set to start alongside the Mercedes driver on the front row.
The three-time world champion resisted a powerful late challenge in the final seconds of Q3 from the German four-time world champion.
"It was very close, but well done to Lewis," said Vettel.
"And a big thank you to my team. I'm afraid it was my lock-up at the end of the lap that made the difference. It was a really good lap up to the final chicane."
A beaming Hamilton, who has bounced back to his best form after a puzzling loss of pace in Russia, said his first lap had been "very, very good, but the last lap was only so-so... But I am super proud that we are back up there."
The Briton produced a best lap of 1min 19.149sec to stay ahead of Vettel by the narrowest of margins. Vettel clocked 1:19.200 and had required a rapid engine change shortly before the session began.
SPANISH GRAND PRIX GRID
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes
2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari
3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes
4 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari
5 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull
6 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull
7 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren
8 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India
9 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams
10 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India
11 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas
12 Carlos Sainz Jr (Esp) Toro Rosso
13 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault
14 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas
15 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Sauber
16 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber
17 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault
18 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams
19 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren
20 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso
It was the 64th pole of Hamilton's career, lifting him to within one of his childhood hero Brazilian Ayrton Senna, on 65, and four from German seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher who holds the record of 68.
Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas, a first-time winner in Russia two weeks ago, qualified in third, with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen fourth.
Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, who became Formula One's youngest winner in Spain last year after Hamilton and then team-mate and 2016 champion Nico Rosberg collided at the start, will start Sunday's race in fifth place for Red Bull.
Vettel, who leads Hamilton in the championship by 13 points after four races, had an engine change between final practice and qualifying with mechanics finishing off the job with only minutes to spare.
He then had a big scare during the opening session when it looked momentarily as if his afternoon was already over.
"Stop the car, stop the car now," he was told over the team radio.
The 2011 Spanish GP winner hesitated, however. "Seems better now," he said and carried on.
"Okay, box, Sebastian, box," he was told. "Okay, you can push," came the eventual radio message from the pit wall as he set the fastest lap of the session before Hamilton and Raikkonen went quicker.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, whose McLaren broke down in first practice and was slowest overall on Friday, enjoyed a miraculous transformation - and delighted his home crowd - by qualifying in an astonishing seventh.
For the Spaniard, who is heading to the Indianapolis 500 instead of Monaco later this month, it was a personal triumph four years after his last victory, with Ferrari in Spain, in 2013.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was sixth for Red Bull, with Mexican Sergio Perez eighth in a Force India. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
SPANISH GRAND PRIX
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