Lewis Hamilton braced for bruising battle from pole at Spanish Grand Prix
Mercedes driver starts from front of the grid at Circuit de Catalunya ahead of title rival Sebastian Vettel
Lewis Hamilton is braced for a bruising battle in today’s Spanish Grand Prix after snatching pole position for Mercedes ahead of Sebastian Vettel on Saturday.
The three-time world champion bounced back from his puzzlingly poor form in last month’s Russian Grand Prix to outpace the championship leading Ferrari driver by 0.05 seconds in a dramatic finale.
“I think it’s going to be a tough race tomorrow for sure,” said the 32-year-old Briton. “You can see how close it is between us – it’s all milliseconds between us. I think it’s the third longest run or something down into Turn One here so, of course, it’s going to be important to get a good start.
“We’ve worked hard on them so I am just going to try and do the best job that we can.
“Valtteri [Bottas] has had some great starts too so I am looking to try and follow his footsteps.
“Positioning can help a lot here and being on the clean side of the grid is an advantage, generally, so hopefully I get to utilise it, compared to Sebastian.”
His Mercedes team-mate Bottas qualified third on the grid ahead of Finnish compatriot Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari.
Both Vettel and Bottas had to have engine changes on Saturday morning before qualifying, the four-time champion German’s team performing his in the final two hours ahead of the session.
Hamilton said he was “super proud” of Mercedes for their progressive work since he finished fourth in Sochi, where Bottas claimed his maiden Formula One victory.
“It’s been an amazing job by the team so I am just super proud that we can get back up there – a better weekend for us so far,” he said.
“My first Q3 lap was very, very good, but the last lap was only so-so ... I could hear the cheering and see the fans we have out here...
“It’s always a morale boost when you come somewhere and it’s not your home and you see support.”
Hamilton will start today’s race at the Circuit de Catalunya from the 64th pole position of his career as he bids to reduce his 13 point gap to Vettel in the drivers championship.
Vettel, with two wins in four races this year, has 86 points ahead of Hamilton on 73 and Bottas on 63, each having won once.