Mercedes lockout front row in Spain as Hamilton claims pole

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri BottasLewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas
Hamilton pips Bottas in Barcelona, with Verstappen third

Less than a tenth of a second separated Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the battle for pole position for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

The championship leader's first time in Q3 was enough for the front spot, with neither able to improve their times in their second run.

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Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who won last time out at F1's 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, was third but was nearly half a second adrift of the Mercedes duo.

Sergio Perez was fourth on his returnSergio Perez was fourth on his return
Sergio Perez was fourth on his return

Hamilton said: "I couldn't go quicker on my second lap, but the first was decent enough I guess. These Red Bulls are super fast and we've got to cover them off.

"It's such a long way to turn 1 so the job is not done. It'll be hard to hold position but I've got to make the best start I can."

Bottas said: "I knew it would be close with Lewis. All day I've been struggling in sector 3 so it's annoying but we did a great job.

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"The start will be the best opportunity for me to pass him, we've got the pace. But I've got to get into turn 1 first."

Max VerstappenMax Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Verstappen added: "It's the maximum we could do. We've been P3 all weekend so I hope we can be a bit closer in the race. I felt happy in the car, I hope I can apply a bit of pressure. We'll try and make it difficult for Mercedes."

Sergio Perez's return after a two-race covid absence was fourth in the Racing Point, ahead of team-mate Lance Stroll.

Alex Albon in the second Red Bull starts sixth, ahead of the McLaren duo Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, with Charles Leclerc a lowly ninth in the Ferrari. Pierre Gasly was tenth.

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