Hamilton to start Spanish GP from pole

Montmelo, Spain, Aug 15 (efe-epa).- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) qualified Saturday for pole position in the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix, ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

For the Briton, it was a 92nd career pole, while Mercedes achieved their sixth front-row lockout in seven years at Circuit de Barcelona-Cataluyna in Montmelo.

The six-time F1 champion was just .059s faster than the Finn, whose time was .376s better than Verstappen. Though the Dutchman won the Spain Grand Prix in 2016 at the age of 18, Saturday marked his best performance in qualifying.

Mexico’s Sergio “Checo” Perez (Racing Point) turned in an impressive drive to claim the fourth spot on his return to competition after missing two races due to a positive Covid-19 test.

The other Racing Point driver, Lance Stroll, will start fifth alongside Thai driver Alex Albon (Red Bull).

Seventh place belonged to the only Spaniard competing on Sunday, Carlos Sainz (McLaren), who was followed by Canadian teammate Lando Norris. Monaco’s Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Frenchman Pierre Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) finished ninth and 10th, respectively.

“I couldn’t go quicker on my second lap,” Hamilton said. “I thought I could but it just wasn’t a great lap. But the first one was decent, I guess, which did the job thankfully.”

He praised the Mercedes mechanics and engineers for an “awesome job.”

“I’ve been here with the guys till 10.00 pm last night looking over all the details, looking at how we can improve and what are the areas for the race that we could get better because these Red Bulls are super-fast,” Hamilton said.

“I felt happy in the car, I just hope that I can apply a little bit of pressure” on Sunday, Verstappen said. “I know it’s very hard to overtake around here, but we’re going to do everything we can to be close to them (Mercedes) and try to make it a bit difficult.”

With victories in three of the first five races of the pandemic-disrupted 2020 season, the 35-year-old Hamilton leads the driver standings with 107 points.

Verstappen, who won last week’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone and finished second in the Hungarian and British GPs, is second with 77 points, four more than Bottas.

The Finnish Mercedes driver triumphed in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix and finished second to Hamilton in the Styrian GP. He was third in Hungary and in the 70th Anniversary event. EFE lsl/dr

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