Sebastian Vettel: Reason for Mercedes' resurgence 'straightforward'

Sebastian Vettel: Reason for Mercedes' resurgence 'straightforward'

Should stand. With AP Photos.

But Hamilton did have the satisfaction of breaking the lap record in Spain - even if his first and last sector were marginally slower than the previous marks. Renault managed to turn his auto around in time to attempt a final run, but he finished the session 16th - just 0.04s slower than Stoffel Vandoorne.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were also quick to get to work at the wheel their modified MCL33 which sports a whole new and striking nose assembly.

Bottas put down an impressive marker with a best lap of one minute 18.148 seconds on soft tyres, 0.849 faster than his teammate, who won from pole a year ago.

Vettel, who won three straight poles, will start third, followed by Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

"I needed this pole, I've not had one for a while". "I've not had pole for a while". "I don't think we've really had great qualifying sessions after that, so it was important for me to get back into a good position with qualifying, as it's usually a strength of mine".

It was a record-extending 74th pole for Hamilton, and the first since the season-opener in Australia.

"It took everything to get this result". "Ferrari were sandbagging until this afternoon and Valtteri has been driving exceptionally well". The track temperature at the start of Q1 was 27.3 degree Celsius with humidity at 75.5% hinting at a good chance of rain.

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First corner prediction: With Mercedes locking out the front row, Hamilton is the favourite tp lead the pack through Turn 1 but keep an eye out for Sebastian Vettel starting from the clean side of the grid behind the lead Mercedes.

Haas and Force India had the best showings of the teams behind the top three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. Vettel led for 41 laps in Baku before the rogue Red Bull boys brought out the safety auto that changed everything. Hartley will, however, be ready to compete in Sunday's race. "Good fun", Bottas said.

But Hamilton also believes he could have been too harsh on himself following the last race, questioning Vettel's "mistake" when his title rival attempted an overtake. The victor has come from the front row in 24 of the 27 races in Barcelona.

Vettel, meanwhile, four points behind Hamilton in the drivers' standings, said: "We will try to put on a lot of pressure".

But the reigning world champion admitted his Azerbaijan GP triumph did not feel as sweet due to the circumstances - Bottas suffered a puncture and Vettel locked up - and Hamilton is determined to win in a different manner on Sunday.

Ricciardo said he was frustrated with the gap to the front.

"I chipped away at my lap time by a few hundredths but it wasn't enough", Ricciardo said.

The press conference was hastily brought to an end by the Head of Communications for F1's governing body, the FIA, with Hamilton and Vettel continuing to express their angst as they walked away.

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