Spanish GP: Lewis Hamilton takes pole position, Rosberg, Ricciardo follow

Barcelona: Lewis Hamilton delivered a lap of searing speed on Saturday to claim his fourth pole position of the season as Mercedes swept the front row for Sunday`s Spanish Grand Prix.

The 2008 world champion clocked a majestic fastest lap in one minute and 25.232 seconds to outpace team-mate Nico Rosberg by 0.168 seconds.

It was his first pole in Spain and the 35th of his career. On a track where eight of the last 10 races have been won from pole and 21 of the last 23 events won by a driver starting on the front row, Hamilton`s achievement made him favourite to extend his winning streak to four in a row.

It was the second Mercedes one-two of the season. Australian Daniel Ricciardo took third place on the grid for Red Bull after his team-mate, defending four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, qualified only 10th after suffering a drive failure early in the final session.

Only Vettel on 35 poles, Ayrton Senna on 65 and Michael Schumacher on 68 have claimed more qualifying triumphs than Hamilton.

Finn Valtteri Bottas qualified fourth for a resurgent Williams team ahead of Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus and Kimi Raikkonen in the leading Ferrari.

Two-time former champion Fernando Alonso was seventh in the second Ferrari, Jenson Button was eighth for McLaren and Felipe Massa ninth in the second Williams ahead of Vettel.

The session was interrupted after only six minutes when Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado crashed in his Renault at the exit of turn three.

He was unhurt but the action was red-flagged for five minutes to clear the debris. Maldonado won the race for Williams in 2012, but has a reputation for running up repair bills.

On resumption, Rosberg clocked the early best lap ahead of Hamilton and a revived Vettel in the leading Red Bull, Hamilton complaining that his car was more difficult to drive.

At the back of the field, Adrian Sutil of Sauber was 17th and missed the cut to Q2 along with Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton of Marussia and the two Caterhams of Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi along with Maldonado.

Hulkenberg, bidding to extend his run of top six finishes to five, was the first man out for Q2 followed by Perez and Bottas.

Rosberg was again two-tenths faster than Hamilton and the Mercedes` men were half a second quicker than the Red Bulls led by Ricciardo, the Ferraris struggling to stay with them while McLaren`s Kevin Magnussen was eliminated without turning a wheel due to a technical problem.

Out with the Dane went Toro Rosso`s Jean-Eric Vergne, who also failed to run, along with Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez of Force India, Russian rookie Daniil Kyvat in a Toro Rosso and Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber.

Vergne also carried with him a 10-place grid penalty after being released in the pit lane on three wheels on Friday. He will start Sunday`s race from the back of the grid.

The shootout for pole started with Rosberg and Hamilton leading the way out of the pit lane only to be ushered back in by more red flags after Vettel`s Red Bull came to a halt at Turn Three.

"I have no drive, sorry," he told the team. After a brief delay, Q3 resumed with Hamilton striving to find the balance and speed to match his in-form team-mate - which he did with an advantage of nearly three-tenths of a second.

Vettel also asked his team to `say sorry to Lewis` for holding the Briton up as he was distracted by lots of flashing lights in his Red Bull before he pulled off the circuit.

The incident wrecked his hopes of claiming a first pole position in Spain and may have dented his hopes of retaining his drivers` crown.

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