F1: Lewis Hamilton clinches pole position for Spanish GP

F1: Lewis Hamilton clinches pole position for Spanish GP

Lewis Hamilton admitted it was "important" for him and Mercedes to return to the front row of the grid after taking pole for the Spanish GP on Saturday.

The defending four-time champion set his best time of one minute and 18.259 seconds on a set of "soft" tires - rather than the usually faster "super-soft" tires - as he regained a competitive edge at a windswept Circuit de Catalunya where teammate Valtteri Bottas had earlier topped the opening practice. We've got some work to do overnight. Ferrari were sandbagging until this afternoon and Valtteri has been driving exceptionally well; it's fantastic for the team to get the front row and I know everyone will be very happy. Bottas qualified second, 0.040 seconds adrift of Hamilton.

Most teams brought significant updates to Spain, which marks the beginning of the European season in F1. On Friday Mercedes also looked like the faster vehicle over long runs, holding a 0.9s per lap advantage over Ferrari and 0.6s over Red Bull.

"Everything we put on the vehicle seems to work and that's important", Vettel said.

"Maybe we'll get a better understanding tomorrow".

He had to retire and lost a lot of track time.

Vettel, sitting to Hamilton's left in the post-qualifying press conference, went further than his rival. "We have found some pace, there is still a bit more to find, but overall a pretty good end to a Friday". "We still don't know what happened, but we'll figure it out". Sebastian Vettel is third, followed by Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Robert Kubica, Williams' reserve driver, was back in an official F1 session for the first time since nearly losing a hand in a rally crash in 2011.

The team had to make some modifications to Kubica's auto because the Polish driver doesn't have full movement of his right hand. The team's miserable session was topped off by Lance Stroll spinning out in the closing seconds of Q1, losing control of his vehicle at Turn 13 and ending up in the wall. Sergei Sirotkin was back in the auto for the afternoon run. The rear end fell apart as the vehicle was being hoisted by a crane. These conditions make it very hard to define where the set-up needs to go.

Vettel added: "I was happy with the lap".

Stroll almost hit the tire barriers after going off the track with about a half-hour left in the session.

"It was so windy out there and every driver was struggling with the changing direction of the wind".

Fresh from claiming his first win of 2018 last time out in Baku, albeit thanks to some misfortune around him, Hamilton was pleased to have continued the momentum. "These conditions make it very hard to define where the setup needs to go".

Romain Grosjean was seventh ahead of his Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen, Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren and Sergio Perez of Force India.

Vettel ended the session third.

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