McLAREN-MERCEDES’ LEWIS Hamilton produced a flawless final qualifying lap to claim pole position for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old will be joined on the first row of the starting grid by Williams’ Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan defied expectations to record the fastest time in the second stage of qualifying (Q2) and even topped the field for a brief period during the third and final stage (Q3).
It was Hamilton, however, who set the quickest time at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday, ending the day the only competitor to better one minute and 22 seconds.
Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button and Red Bull’s Mark Webber were the two biggest names to miss out on Q3. Both were caught unawares by the impressive form of Sauber duo Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi and Mercedes’ German team of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
Indeed, Webber aborted his second session prematurely, having been assured his progression to the third round was inevitable. The miscalculation cost the Australian dear; he looked on helplessly from the pit as he was relegated to a lowly 12th place.
Home favourite Fernando Alonso finished the afternoon in third, ahead of Lotus pair Romain Grosjean (fourth) and Kimi Raikkonen (fifth).
Three of the 10 drivers involved in Q3 did not set a time. Two-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and Schumacher opted to save their tires for Sunday’s race, while Kobayashi failed to restart his car following a technical issue at the end of Q2.
Button will start from 11th, Webber 12th, while Ferrari’s Felipe Massa endured a horror outing to end the day in 17th.