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Lewis Hamilton storms to pole at Spanish Grand Prix qualifying

Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position in the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya today. The McLaren driver qualified with a lap time of 1:21.707, which was more than half a second faster than his nearest challenger, Pastor Maldonado, could manage.

Old adversaries Hamilton (centre) and Alonso (left) will be split by Maldonado.
Old adversaries Hamilton (centre) and Alonso (left) will be split by Maldonado.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso will start third on the grid, much to the delight of the Spanish fans. Hamilton’s team mate, Jenson Button, will start 11th after being eliminated in Q2.

Hamilton, like many of the top drivers, started todauy’s qualifying in uncertain fashion. The McLaren driver opted to use a set of the faster, more precious option tyres to ensure progress into the second and third qualifying rounds.

He needn’t have worried, as it was the usual suspects from Caterham, Marussia, and HRT who were eliminated in Q1. Maldonado’s team mate, Bruno Senna failed to make it through to Q2 after he spun off at turn 12.

Q2 took two huge scalps in the form of McLaren’s Jenson Button and Red Bull’s Mark Webber. Button complained of understeer throughout the session and will start 11th in tomorrow’s race, just ahead of the Australian. The Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg will start in 13th and 14th position respectively, ahead of the two Torro Rosso cars.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa starts in a disappointing 17th.

The top-10 shootout was equally unpredicable. Fernando Alonso looked to have strung together the perfect lap, before being pipped to 2nd place by Pastor Maldonado in the Williams. Hamilton struck late, however, with a blistering time that nobody could come near.

Vettel, Schumacher and Kobayashi all opted not to set a time, instead preserving their tyres for tomorrow’s race. They’ll start 8th, 9th and 10th respectively.

There was one blight on Hamilton’s achievement. The Englishman was ordered to stop his car almost immediately after setting his lap time, due to a technical problem with his car. Although the nature of the problem has not yet been identified, team principal Martin Whitmarsh, said it was unlikely to be anything as serious as an engine or gearbox fault.

The 2012 Spanish Grand Prix will start at 12:10 BST. Coverage will be available on BBC One and BBC One HD, as well as Sky Sports F1.

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Lewis Hamilton Mclaren-Mercedes 1:21.707
2 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:22.285
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:22.302
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:22.424
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1:22.487
6 Sergio Perez Sauber Ferrari 1:22.533
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.005
8 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault No time set
9 Michael Schumacher   Mercedes No time set
10 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber No time set

Image: Formula1.com

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