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Spanish GP: Bottas beats Hamilton to pole

Valtteri Bottas beat Lewis Hamilton to take his third pole position in a row and lead a Mercedes one-two in qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Finn was 0.634 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who made a series of errors on his first lap before a slower track meant an improvement was impossible on the next.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third with an 0.866secs gap to Bottas.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fourth, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Bottas means business

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas
Flying Finn: Bottas appears to be getting the better of his illustrious team-mate Hamilton this season

Bottas, who leads Hamilton in the championship by one point, set a superb one minute 15.406 seconds on his first run in final qualifying, while Hamilton had a mistake-strewn run.

He had wheelspin out of the final corner starting the lap, then ran wide out of Turn Seven, bouncing over the kerbs on the exit. And then he ran wide again at Turns 12 and 13.

By the time he did his second run, the track was slower, partly because of the gravel that Hamilton himself had deposited on the track in the final sector, and none of the top four improved.

Of the drivers in the top three teams, only Leclerc improved on his final lap, but that was because his qualifying session did not run to plan.

An error on his first run in second qualifying, running wide out of Turn Nine, meant he had to do a second run to progress into the top 10 shoot-out.

That damaged the floor of his car, costing performance, and left him short of new tyres, which meant he could only do one run in the final session.

He opted to do two laps, taking it relatively cautiously on the first to set a ‘banker’ and then going harder on his second, by which time the tyres would have lost their edge. Added to what he said was a “very strange balance” from the damage, matching Vettel was never going to be a possibility

The 21-year-old ended up 0.316secs slower than his team-mate and 0.231secs down on Verstappen, who is likely to be a thorn in Ferrari’s side in the race, as he has proved so often this year. –