Lewis Hamilton beaten by Nico Rosberg to Spanish GP pole

Rosberg takes first pole of the season
By Andrew Benson, Chief F1 writer at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Spanish Grand Prix
Venue: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya Dates: 8-10 May
Full BBC coverage details

Lewis Hamilton was beaten in qualifying for the first time this season as Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg took pole position in Spain.

Rosberg beat Hamilton by 0.267 seconds, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel third ahead of Williams' Valtteri Bottas.

Spain's Carlos Sainz Jr
Carlos Sainz Jr qualified in a surprise fifth for Toro Rosso at his home race

The Spanish fans who flock to salute their hero Fernando Alonso had another name to cheer as Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr took a superb fifth.

Sainz's team-mate Max Verstappen was sixth as McLaren's Alonso was 13th.

Both McLarens made it into the second part of qualifying for the first time this season, another step forward for the team in their first season with new engine supplier Honda.

Alonso beat team-mate Jenson Button, for the first time this season in a session in which they have both competed, by 0.096secs and one place.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen had a disappointing session, managing only seventh place, ahead of Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat, Williams' Felipe Massa and the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.

Rosberg's pole lap in Barcelona

Rosberg headed into this weekend knowing he needed to beat Hamilton as he bids to get his championship campaign on track.

Hamilton has a 27-point advantage over Rosberg, with Vettel a further point adrift, heading into this race after three wins and a second place in the first four races of the season.

In beautiful Spanish spring sunshine, Rosberg has looked competitive all weekend, and he took the initiative by going fastest in second qualifying and then repeating the feat on the first runs in the top 10 shoot-out.

Hamilton asked for a balance change before his last lap but none of the front-runners improved on their final runs.

Rosberg said: "It's just important for the race because it's better to start first than second obviously. Psychologically, yeah, it's good. Feels great. I'm happy."

Hamilton said: "I just generally didn't have the pace today. Nico did a great job and I don't think I had the balance quite where I like it - tomorrow there is still a lot to play for."

At the back, Englishman Will Stevens again out-qualified his Spanish team-mate Roberto Merhi by 0.838secs.

Alonso's success over the years has transformed Spain's interest in F1 and this race is usually packed with fans as a result, but on Saturday it was the country's latest grand prix driver who grabbed the headlines.

What have McLaren brought to Spain?

Sainz's fifth place was the best performance of his career, and he said that he had not found it difficult to focus despite the extra attention on him this weekend.

"You have a lot more interviews, a lot more photos to take in the paddock, a lot more events and press conferences," he said, "but to be honest I did not realise I was in Spain until the Q3 in lap and suddenly I came out of my qualifying bubble and looked around and saw all the crowd cheering.

"I said: 'This must be for me.' And I was so happy and I realised I had done the job in my home grand prix. It felt like a pole position, to be honest, same feeling."

Full qualifying results here

Nico Rosberg waves after qualifying
Lewis Hamilton was beaten in qualifying for the first time this season as Nico Rosberg took pole position
Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton finished in second, with Rosberg 0.267 seconds ahead of the Briton
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel kept up the Ferrari pressure on the Mercedes pair after he finished a close third
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo
Both Red Bull cars finished in the top 10 with Daniel Ricciardo in 10th
Fernando Alonso in action during qualifying
Fernando Alonso failed to reach Q3 but he and team-mate Jenson Button did reach the second session for the first time this season
Fernando Alonso in action during qualifying

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