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Spanish Grand Prix qualifying: Alonso amazing as Hamilton breaks lap record

Spanish Grand Prix qualifying: Alonso amazing as Hamilton breaks lap record

13/05/2017 at 12:03Updated 13/05/2017 at 14:53

Fernando Alonso starts seventh on the grid - but Lewis Hamilton is on pole after setting a blistering pace in Spain.


Bad start for Sebastian Vettel, whose Ferrari made it out on track after the engine change, but could only crawl around the track, reporting a new issue. The team called him in and he refused - a bold strategy that seemed to work. He stayed out for as long as possible, ironing out whatever glitch he was struggling with, and ending up third - behind leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, and his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Another bad day at the office for Williams's Lance Stroll, coming in 1.9 seconds slower than the leader, and Daniil Kvyat finished right at the bottom of the pile, 2.235 seconds off the pace.

Spain's very own Fernando Alonso got his weekend off to the customary good start following the car failure in practice - through as 12th-quickest.

OUT: Marcus Ericsson (Sauber), Jolyon Palmer (Renault), Lance Stroll (Williams), Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso).


Ferrari came out blazing for Q2, putting all the pressure on the Mercedes pair; at the top of the pile, Hamilton, Vettel and Valtteri Bottas were split by less than a tenth of a second, with Raikkonen a little way behind them.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were tucked in happily behind them, making it tight in the top ten. Felipe Massa, Williams's only hope for a decent start, was struggling for speed but came through in the end, and Romain Grosjean's Haas looked a bit wobbly at the rear as the clock ticked down, eventually conking out with about 12 seconds to go.

The Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez left it late, but they made it into Q3, bumping Carlos Sainz and Toro Rosso out at the last.

And the roars were heard across the continent as Alonso drove a brilliant final lap to secure his place in the top ten, and then promptly did a lap of honour.

OUT: Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso), Nico Hulkenberg (Renault), Romain Grosjean (Haas), Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber).


Lap records being broken all over the place as Hamilton took his Mercedes around in 1:19.149, more than two-tenths of a second faster than his team-mate.

After such a dismal start to the day, Vettel finished brilliantly, and will start on the front row. Bottas and Raikkonen will line up behind them after an intriguing shoot-out.

Obviously it's the Red Bulls behind them - but who's that in P7? It's Fernando Alonso, all class even in a car that's been the bane of his life for too many months now.

GRID: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Fernando Alonso (McLaren), Sergio Perez (Force India), Felipe Massa (Williams), Esteban Ocon (Force India).


Plenty of pace, plenty of heat, plenty of drama imminent as those top four battle for the three podium places.


Probably the Q1 departures - Kvyat ought to be doing better, and Stroll is going to need to step up his game pretty quickly.


Once upon a time, Pastor Maldonado won this race. No, really. So strange things can happen in Barcelona. Keep an eye on those Force Indias.


Vettel - Hamilton - Bottas