Lewis Hamilton scored his 100th Formula 1 pole position with a fine-margins victory over Max Verstappen ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton needed only one lap in Q3 to claim his record-extending pole. His first time of 1m16.741s put him at the head of the grid and ahead of title rival Max Verstappen by just 0.036s, and neither he nor the Dutchman was able to improve with their second attempts.
The Briton paid tribute to Mercedes, with which he’s scored 74 of his pole ton of poles since joining the team from McLaren.
“I can’t believe we’re at 100,” he said. “It’s down to the men and women back at the factory, who are continuously raising the bar and never giving up.
“The journey we’ve been on has been immense. Who would’ve though at the end of 2012 when we made the decision to partner we’d be going 100.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 8, 2021
Verstappen said he was pleased to be able to run Hamilton so close at a circuit dominated by Mercedes on Saturdays since 2013.
“Second for us on this track was very good today,” he said. “We know they are hard to beat around here, but to be that close — I can be happy with that.
“It seems like the pace is there, so of course I hope we can have a good race as well.”
Valtteri Bottas qualified third in the sister Mercedes and 0.132s adrift, but starting from the clean side of the grid, the Finn thinks he has the machinery underneath him to pursue his first win of the season.
“We have a strong package,” he said. “It’s going to be a good race tomorrow, no doubt.”
Charles Leclerc will join Bottas on the second row for Ferrari, but the gap from the front to the head of the midfield was huge, Leclerc 0.769s off the pace.
Esteban Ocon continued his strong run of form and advantage over decorated teammate Fernando Alonso with fifth on the grid alongside Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari, the two closely matched at 0.8s off pole.
Daniel Ricciardo bounced back from 16th on the grid last weekend to qualify seventh. He starts alongside Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez on the fourth row. The Mexican threw away his first lap to a spin entering Turn 13 with one wheel on the gravel, and his second attempt was 0.960s off the pace of the front-runners.
Lando Norris qualified ninth in the second McLaren ahead of Fernando Alonso to complete the top 10.
Lance Stroll missed out putting an Aston Martin into the top 10 by just 0.008s, qualifying 11th ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, the Frenchman failing to enter Q3 for the first time in 2021.
Sebastian Vettel qualified 13th in the second Aston Martin car ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Williams driver George Russell.
Yuki Tsunoda swore loudly over team radio that he was unhappy with his AlphaTauri after being knocked out in Q1 for the second time this season, this weekend by just 0.007s. The Japanese rookie will start 16th ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Mick Schumacher was a strong 18th in the uncompetitive Haas ahead of Williams driver Nicholas Latifi and teammate Nikita Mazepin.
Mazepin was 0.7s slower that the faster Haas, and the Russian dejectedly admitted over team radio that he didn’t understand how to extract the pace from his machine.