Lewis Hamilton has secured what could yet be a crucial pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix after edging out championship rival Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton, who secured the 64th pole of his career to move to within one of his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna, 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 started on pole a year ago but he collided with his former Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg on the opening lap.
“It’s going to be a tough race tomorrow that’s for sure,” Hamilton, 32, said. “It is all milliseconds between us.
“It’s the third longest run down to turn one so it’s going to be important to get a good start. I’m just going to do the best job I can.”
Vettel, whose Ferrari team were forced to change his engine on Saturday morning, added: “The team did a phenomenal job.
“We had an issue this morning and we had to change the engine. Normally that’s a three-hour job but they did it in under two hours. A big thank you to them.
“Kimi’s crew helped out. It was quite funny. One side of the garage had one or two mechanics and the other side was completely crowded, like bees hovering around the car.
“I think we could have had pole today. Not the ideal end, but if I think about where we were this morning it was a really good recovery.”
Spanish GP Qualifying results
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:19.149
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +0.051
3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, +0.224
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, +0.290
5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, +0.557
6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +1.026
7. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, +1.899
8. Sergio Perez, Force India, +1.921
9. Felipe Massa, Williams, +2.093
10. Esteban Ocon, Force India, +2.123
Knocked out in Q2
11. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:21.329
12. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:21.371
13. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:21.397
14. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:21.517
15. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber. 1:21.803
Knocked out in Q1
16. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:22.332
17. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:22.401
18. Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:22.411
19. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:22.532
20. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:22.746