Lewis Hamilton will start from the front row of a Formula 1 grid for the 150th time in his career after claiming pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton narrowly bettered team-mate Valtteri Bottas in a Mercedes one-two on the grid.
The Briton’s first flying lap in the final phase of qualifying stood for the balance of the session, four tenths quicker that his second push lap.
Bottas did improve in the dying moments, dropping time in the first sector but making it up around the balance of the lap.
It was not enough to overhaul Hamilton, however, the Finn just under 0.1s slower than the championship leader.
Third place went to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen with the returning Sergio Perez fourth for Racing Point.
Daniel Ricciardo missed the cut to reach Qualifying 3, as did his Renault team-mate Esteban Ocon.
Renault had a busy build-up to the session after Ocon found the wall in the closing stages of Practice 3.
The Frenchman was caught out by Kevin Magnussen as the duo rounded Turn 3, taking avoiding action and clouting the barrier on driver’s right.
Ricciardo sat on the fringes on the top 10 as the chequered flag fell at the end of Qualifying 2, tumbling to 13th at its conclusion as those around him improved.
A dismal session for Ferrari saw Charles Leclerc just ninth, only two places clear of Sebastian Vettel in the sister car who did not escape Q2.
Leclerc’s best was 1.5s off the pace of Hamilton out front, while Vettel missed out on progressing to the final part of qualifying by just 0.002s.
Alfa Romeo escaped the opening phase of qualifying for the first time in 2020 courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen.
The Finn will line up 14th on the grid, one spot ahead of Ocon’s Renault, after banking a 1:17.386s.
It quickly emerged that the session would be a two-horse race between the Mercedes, with Verstappen and the two Racing Points squabbling for third.
An improved performance for Alex Albon in the second Red Bull saw the Thai driver slot in sixth on the grid, though 0.7s off the pace of his Dutch team-mate.
Racing Point’s duo completed just a single run in Qualifying 1 when every other team elected to burn two sets of tyres.
It was an approach that left Perez and Stroll in a strong position come Qualifying 3, with two brand new sets of the soft compound tyres as a result.
There was little between the pair at the flag, suggesting they’d maximised their car, but were still 0.2s away from Verstappen in the lead Red Bull.
With hot conditions in Spain expected to continue, a two-stop strategy is expected for Sunday’s race.
The top 10 will all start on the soft tyre with practice showing the medium tyre the best of the three compounds in race terms.
Sunday’s race is scheduled to begin at 23:10 AEST.
Result: Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:16.292|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||1:16.482|
|5||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||1:16.589|
|6||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing||1:17.029|
|14||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo||1:17.386|
|20||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:18.697|