Valtteri Bottas achieved a hat-trick of Formula 1 pole positions with a solid qualifying session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The championship leader had the edge on his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton throughout qualifying, ending up a massive 0.634 seconds quicker.
None of the top four were able to improve their lap times on their second runs on soft Pirelli compound in Q3, meaning Mercedes kept hold of the front-row lockout it had taken earlier in the final segment.
Sebastian Vettel was third and 0.866 seconds off the pace, less than a tenth quicker than fourth-best Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.
Charles Leclerc only had a single run in Q3 thanks to having to use two sets of soft Pirellis in Q2 after compromising his first run by running wide at Campsa – picking up some minor floor damage.
He put in two attempts on his one set of tyres, but ended up third and over two tenths slower than Verstappen – but ahead of the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly.
Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen made good on the promise the upgraded Haas showed in practice by taking seventh and eighth positions, with Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat ninth.
Daniel Ricciardo was slowest of those in Q3 with P10, although he must serve a three-place grid penalty for reversing into Kvyat in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Lando Norris was the best of those who didn’t reach Q3 in P11 after being bumped down a position by Leclerc’s late improvement in Q2.
Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon, like his teammate, only had one run on fresh softs in Q2 and ended up P12 after running wide at Turn 5.
Carlos Sainz made an error on what should have been his quickest lap and ended up P13 ahead of the lead Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.
Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16, 19 thousandths slower than teammate Ricciardo.
Hulkenberg crashed at the Turn 4 right hander on his first run before he set a time, but was able to recover to the pits despite damaging his front wing.
The Hulk returned to the track in the closing stages and briefly lifted himself out of the drop zone with his first flying lap on the second set of options – although his pace was hindered by having switched to an older-spec front wing.
But Raikkonen then improved to push him down to P16, with Hulkenberg finding two-tenths on his second flying lap but not quite enough to escape.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was eliminated for the fifth time in five 2019 races in P17, two tenths faster than P18 quickest Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo.
George Russell won the intra-Williams battle for P19 despite a spin at the chicane on his first run, outpacing Robert Kubica by 1.2 seconds after Kubica failed to improve on his second run.
So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas on scoring another pole position for Mercedes. It’s going to be a fascinating battle royale in the main event as Lewis Hamilton aims to be more ruthless to his teammate in achieving race victories. Bring on the race!
Spanish Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m15.406s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m16.040s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m16.272s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m16.357s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m16.588s
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 1m16.708s
7 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m16.911s
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m16.922s
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1m17.573s
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m17.338s
11 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda 1m17.445s
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m17.599s
13 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m18.106s
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m17.788s
15 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1m17.886s
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m18.404s
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m18.471s
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m18.664s
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1m20.254s
20 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1m19.072s