Hamilton won the pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix

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Should stand. With AP Photos.

Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas was second, in 1:16.213, with Vettel third and 0.132 off the pace. Not only were they outpaced by Mercedes all weekend, they also suffered two engine issues on Kimi Raikkonen's vehicle that resulted in a DNF and a 31-point swing in Mercedes' favour in the constructors' championship.

"It could be a lot more fun", Hamilton said in Barcelona ahead of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

It marked the third successive race in a row in which Vettel has failed to mount the podium, having started the year with back-to-back wins, and he now trails race victor Lewis Hamilton by 17 points in the standings. "I think the USA has always been kind of a territory where we want to promote the sport a bit more".

Bottas said: "It was close, like it has been all week".

"If it's within one tenth, one tenth and a half you always think maybe, but to be honest I was very happy with the lap until the end".

"It was straightforward [to go back to softs] because I had such a good feeling in Q2", he added.

It was a record-extending 74th pole for Hamilton, and the first since the season-opener in Australia.

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Leclerc decried the move on the team radio, and the stewards took the Sauber man's side, summoning the Dane for his first reprimand of the season.

"I asked and we made a decision to go back to the softs and I think that was the right call". "We got through all our running and we were quite fast compared to previous years, but we've still got some work to do overnight. I looked at the tower and I saw my name didn't go up, but we expected Mercedes to be strong so we will see what happens tomorrow", Vettel said. I did some better races in the last five years, even if the last victory was five years ago. Given that these power units are created to last seven races it was a big surprise to see auto No.7 retire from the race with an issue on a power unit that was just two days old.

On race pace, again, it looks fairly close at the front. By pitting Sebastian Vettel on lap 17, Ferrari attempted to force Mercedes' hand but a slow stop delivered him back on the track directly behind Kevin Magnussen.

It's no secret the No. 1 complaint about F1 is it is too often too predictable, with the same two or three teams - if that - sharing the spoils year after year.

Sitting with another Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Renault, he also grinned and complained at the fact that the Barcelona track is used so much for winter testing.

Verstappen was 0.643secs off pole and just 0.002secs ahead of Ricciardo. Generally he likes spinning, but on the first lap is not a good time to do it with everyone there.

"We made some changes for FP2, which didn't improve the auto, so we reverted back to the original set-up", explained Bottas. On the outside of Turn 3, Magnussen lost a bit of grip and had a wobble, forcing Haas teammate Grosjean into evasive action.

"It was a really good qualifying".

Potential incomings have featured Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Hamilton's former teammate Fernando Alonso at McLaren.

A hard weekend for Williams, who were well off the pace, was compounded when Lance Stroll crashed in Q3, going wide on the exit of turn 12. "So that's a positive thing".

"We are very pleased to have received preliminary approval towards bringing a Formula One Grand Prix to Miami", said Sean Bratches, Formula One's commercial managing director.

Hartley suffered a crash heavy enough to sever the rear section of his Toro Rosso during practice Picasso would have been proud. He clipped the grass on the entry of a turn and spun into the tire barrier, significantly damaging the auto. He did not take part in qualifying and will start from the back of the grid.

The Australian crashed in morning practice at Turn Four and later blamed a "big" tailwind.