Lewis Hamilton takes pole in Spain

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The 2 Ferraris were 3rd and 4th respectively with Sebastian Vettel ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Mercedes will hope that can bring a sixth consecutive pole position in Barcelona but Red Bull look particularly competitive, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo lapping four tenths faster than Hamilton on soft tyres. "I've not had pole for a while", Hamilton said. Imagine if I got excited now, knowing that we still have all the problems.

When it was put to him that Hamilton appeared hurt that he had not been able to take pole position recently, Lauda replied: "You're absolutely right".

"It took everything we've got to take pole", the defending F1 champion said. "They're probably hiding the game or something".

Back at the front, and on a circuit that Mercedes has dominated at more than most in recent years, to get a result over Ferrari in a straight fight will provide confidence. "The auto felt good from the start, and FP1 was especially promising".

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton of Britain competes during the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix in Baku Azerbaijan
In Baku Lewis Hamilton won his first race since 2017's US Grand Prix. Credit BANCROFT MEDIA

It was the first front-row lock up for Mercedes this season, and 51st all-time.

That said, the Mercedes was not alone in failing to get the one-lap shoes in step in the blustery conditions. "It's a shame it's only four hundredths but for us as a team, flawless result today".

"We could end up in P1 or P6", said Vettel when asked about qualifying.

He will have to ask the race stewards for permission to take part in Sunday's race even if his vehicle is repaired and he can prove his fitness. If you win here, you have a good cushion for the next couple of races so for me it's important both Mercedes are there.

A good starting position is crucial in Spain as there are not many overtaking opportunities. The victor has come from the front row in 24 of the 27 races in Barcelona.

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Hamilton leads the German, also a four-times world champion, by four points after four races but owes his advantage to a healthy slice of luck. Vettel won in Australia and Bahrain, while Ricciardo was first in China and Hamilton triumphed in Azerbaijan.

Kubica was replacing Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin, who returns for second practice and the race but has a three-place grid penalty.

Most teams brought significant updates to Spain, which marks the beginning of the European season in F1.

Magnussen qualified seventh. Grosjean was 10th in Q3, despite only being 0.2s adrift of his team-mate's time. "So that's a positive thing".

Nico Hulkenberg of Renault failed to make it past the first qualifying session because of an apparent fuel pressure issue.

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The Ferrari team ran with a package of upgraded new parts on their cars including rear-view mirrors set on their "halo" head protectors. The new record of 1:16.173 may go unbeaten for several years as 2019's regulation changes are expected to make the cars 1.5s slower.

Brendon Hartley suffered a big accident in final practice in the morning, spinning off at the near-flat out Campsa corner and his Toro Rosso was too badly damaged to be fixed in time for qualifying, meaning the Kiwi will start last. He clipped the grass on the entry of a turn and span into the tire barrier, significantly damaging the vehicle. Such was the impact with the barriers that the gearbox snapped off when the vehicle was lifted from the gravel trap and there was no chance of getting the auto rebuilt in the two hours between the end of final practice and the start of Q1.

Stroll almost hit the tire barriers after going off the track with about a half-hour left in the session. He had to retire and lost a lot of track time.

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