Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas to pole position at Spanish Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel- Scuderia Ferrari

Not for the first time on the opening day of the grand prix weekend this season, Sebastian Vettel was happy to blend into the background, no doubt saving his best stuff, and Ferrari's now familiar Saturday power hike, for qualifying.

He also insisted Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo - starting on the third row - will be a "big threat" come lights out.

"My fourth pole in Spain?"

'Then the sport said the cars are too slow, so let's put more aerodynamic bits on the cars and make them wider and more spectacular.

"Well good memories a year ago but that was first row".

Williams' Lance Stroll was first out on track while Vettel was quickest in the early stages setting a time of 1:17.606.

It was the first Mercedes one-two of the season, a measure of the world champions' relative struggles to get on top of their new auto and the tyres Pirelli has produced for this season. A lot of teams were slated to bring in major upgrades to their cars after the conclusion of the initial segment of the season. That was the second consecutive race he had benefited from the random interventions impairing Ferrari's obvious edge in performance.

BC-CAR-F1-Spanish GP, 6th Ld-Writethru, 739 Hamilton takes pole for Spanish GP with track recordAP Photo XLB163, XLB169, XLB152, XLB143, XLB137, XLB144, XLB145, XLB146, XLB151, XLB155, XLB150Eds: Updates with quotes by Ricciardo, Magnussen.

Eurovision-2018: a year ago participants sang a song of Salvador Sobral
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Kimi Raikkonen was fifth with Ferrari, just ahead of crowd-favourite Fernando Alonso with McLaren.

His fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz was ninth in the Renault, whose other driver Nico Hulkenberg, usually faster, was hampered by a fuel-pressure problem and could manage only 16th. He clipped the grass on the entry of a turn and spun into the tire barrier, significantly damaging the auto.

The Canadian qualified slowest in 19th place, just behind team-mate Sergey Sirotkin, on a dire weekend for Williams that underlined the major problems they have with their vehicle this year.

Shocker: Brendon Hartley's huge shunt in final practice meant he wasn't able to start qualifying.

"I was told by the team to stop the vehicle", Raikkonen said". It is now more challenging and you see us more exhausted after the race.

"Very close in qualifying but very happy", Hamilton said.

"I needed that pole", he said after stepping out the vehicle.

"I needed this pole - I've not had one for a while", said Hamilton who leads Vettel in the drivers' title race by just four points after four races. The lap was good. "I asked to go back and I think it was the right call, we were very quick". We expected Mercedes to be very strong and so they were. Obviously we had the change for everyone but I think they are a bit harder, so for me it was pretty straightforward as I said because I was happier with the vehicle with that tyre.

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