For better after worse: Lewis Hamilton digs deep to claim pole position in Spain
Lewis claims fourth pole of 2014; Victory on Sunday will take the Englishman to the top of the Drivers' Championship
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 11/05/14 8:58am
A relieved Lewis Hamilton has admitted he had to dig deep to beat Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to pole position in Barcelona.
For the fourth time in five races this season, Hamilton will start Sunday's Spanish GP at the front of the field. Yet there was nothing straightforward about his latest qualifying triumph after taking a wrong turn on set-up overnight.
"It's been a tough day," reflected Hamilton. "I didn't know if I was going to be able to get it."
At the close of Qualy One, the first of the three segments over the full qualifying hour, Hamilton was almost half a second down on a resurgent Rosberg and and reduced to plaintively telling his Mercedes pitwall: "I don't know how, but somehow we've made the car worse."
In a stroke, Hamilton's relentless superiority in Friday Practice had been rendered an irrelevancy, but the story thereafter was of the Mercedes driver gradually and relentlessly reducing the deficit to his team-mate before trumping the German when it mattered most at the end of Q3.
"We changed some things overnight and the car was a real handful. We had to back to square in Qualifying One," admitted Hamilton.
Still trailing Rosberg at the conclusion of Q2, Hamilton finally rediscovered his stride just in the nick of time to beat Rosberg by two-tenths and score another significant psychological advantage over his team-mate.
"I'm very disappointed," admitted a downcast Rosberg. "I don't enjoy coming second to Lewis. In the end, it was a good lap from me so Lewis just did a better job. It wasn't possible to do any more."
Hamilton, by sharp contrast, was understandably buoyed by his recovery from adversity.
"I'm even happier knowing that I dropped a bit of pace today and was then able to get it back," added the 29-year-old.
"Nico was driving really well and I didn't know if I was going to be able to get it but I eked out everything I could from the car. Coming here, we didn't know where everyone was going to be, but to see all the hard work of the team really inspires me.
"It was very difficult out there, the track conditions were poor, so I'm just overwhelmed to have pole."
The rest, meanwhile, were simply nowhere. While Barcelona is renowned for debuting a raft of car upgrades capable of transforming the early-season pecking order, the only discernible change this weekend appears to be Mercedes increasing their already-formidable advantage over the chasing pack. The nearest challenger to Hamilton and Rosberg, the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, was over one second slower; really not that near at all.
"It's been a great effort from the team," enthused Hamilton. "We heard that Red Bull were coming here with a massive upgrade and to see the gap now is just incredible."
Victorious in the last three events, a fourth consecutive victory on Sunday will propel Hamilton to the top of the Drivers' Championship.
Coverage of Race Day, live on Sky Sports F1, starts at 11.30am with the Spanish GP underway at 1pm