Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton responding to his critics with pole position at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The Mercedes driver beat his team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg to P1. While Ferrari slipped behind in competitive form compared to Red Bull during qualifying.
Both Silver Arrows drivers made errors on their first flying lap in Q3, with Hamilton locking his brakes heavily at Turn 10.
But the defending champion recovered to grab pole position on his second run by 0.280 seconds from Rosberg.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified third quickest for Red Bull Racing, six tenths behind Rosberg’s Mercedes and just over two tenths clear of new team-mate Max Verstappen, who had split the Mercedes after the first runs in Q3.
Ferrari suffered a disappointing session, after a promising form in practice.
Kimi Raikkonen was only fifth quickest, just 0.026 seconds slower than Verstappen, while team-mate Sebastian Vettel qualified 0.221 seconds further back in sixth.
The Williams of Valtteri Bottas beat Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso to seventh place by just over a tenth, with the Force India of Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda rounding out the top ten.
This was McLaren’s first top ten appearance and to have both Spanish drivers at the mid-range of the pack will give the home supporters a cheer.
Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India split the McLaren-Hondas, failing to make the pole shootout by just 0.011 seconds.
Jenson Button was P12, just under a tenth clear of Toro Rosso returnee Daniil Kvyat.
Romain Grosjean sat inside the top ten after the first runs in Q2, but fell back to P14 after disappointingly failing to improve on his second run.
He was split from Haas team-mate Esteban Gutierrez by another impressive performance from Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, who qualified P15 in his under-developed car.
The Williams of Felipe Massa fell unexpectedly in Q1, after he aborted his second run. A timing issue was the cause of the early elimination which affected his qualifying.
He ended up P19, just behind the Renault of Jolyon Palmer, who briefly looked set to make it through to Q2 before a late improvement by Button’s McLaren.
Sauber and Manor brought up the rear of the grid. As Marcus Ericsson trailed Felipe Nasr after their first runs, but improved substantially on his second to finish 0.377 seconds clear of his Sauber team-mate.
Pascal Wehrlein also turned tables on Manor team-mate Rio Haryanto during their second runs, with a lap that put him 0.194 seconds clear and less than two tenths shy of Nasr’s Sauber.
Spanish Grand Prix, qualifying times:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m22.000s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.280s
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m22.680s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m23.087s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m23.113s
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m23.334s
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m23.522s
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.643s
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m23.782s
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1m23.981s
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m24.203s
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1m24.348s
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.445s
14 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m24.480s
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m24.625s
16 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 1m24.778s
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m24.903s
18 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m24.941s
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.202s
20 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.579s
21 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes 1m25.745s
22 Rio Haryanto Manor-Mercedes 1m25.939s