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Hamilton pips Vettel to Spanish GP pole, Alonso set P7

Triple-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton sealed exciting pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix after edging out nearest title rival Sebastian Vettel and 64th career pole and his third in five races this year.

The Brit finished just 0.051 seconds ahead of Vettel following a frenetic qualifying session at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

Valtteri Bottas lines up in third for Mercedes with Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen fourth on the grid.

Hamilton, fastest in both Q1 and Q2, appeared on course to seal an easy pole only for Vettel to provide a late charge in the closing moments of the session.

Local hero Fernando Alonso missed the whole of opening practice on Friday following his Honda engine failure just after three corners into his very first lap.

But amazingly the Spaniard pulled his McLaren not only into the final phase of qualifying, but then to seventh on the grid for tomorrow’s grand prix in front of his home fans.

The young F1 sensation – Max Verstappen, a winner in last year Spanish GP, qualified fifth ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Force India’s Sergio Perez set eighth fastest ahead of Williams F1’s Felipe Massa and second Force India ace Esteban Ocon made tenth.

Vettel, winner of two of the opening four races of the season, leads the title race on 86 points, 13 ahead of three-time champion Hamilton.

Jolyon Palmer is desperately in need of a solid weekend here following his tough start to the new season, but again the Englishman failed to make his way out of Q1 and will line up only 17th on the grid and his Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg has finished in the points at the last two races and comfortably out-qualified and secure 13th.

Williams F1 rookie Lance Stroll was the first major casualty to be eliminated from Q1, managing to only qualify in P18. The Canadian was joined by Marcus Ericsson, Jolyon Palmer, Stoffel Vandoorne and backmarker Daniil Kvyat, but less than one second covered P7 to P20 in a very tight Q1 session.

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