Formula One: Lewis Hamilton claims 'much-needed' pole in Barcelona

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"We always want to go faster, improve the technology, push the boundaries and the limits", Hamilton said in the minutes after claiming the 74th pole of his career, and his third in as many races in Spain.

On Friday, Red Bull's Christian Horner qualified the aero tweaks to the regs, which include a wider simpler front wing, as "rushed and immature", while the changes will also slow the cars by as much as 1.5 seconds according to Nikolas Tombazis, the FIA's head of technical matters.

"Everything we put on the vehicle seems to work and that's important", Vettel said.

Ferrari was Mercedes closest rivals as four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen finished at the third and fourth spot respectively. The vehicle was fine and we didn't have much to do. "You need to have a good start to keep your position, you need to have a great start to make positions up", he said.

Most teams brought significant updates to their cars as F1 returned to Europe after races in Australia, Bahrain, China and Azerbaijan. "As I said, it's the same for all of us". "Since the last race I've not thought for one second that now we're leading the world championship". I think the last run in Q3 was fine, there were no mistakes, so there was not much left. "We still don't know what happened, but we'll figure it out".

Fernando Alonso will start from eighth in McLaren's best qualifying display of the year. But that all changes as Hamilton takes pole at the Spanish Grand Prix, with team mate Bottas alongside, the Ferraris relegated to row two and the Red Bulls to row three.

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The team had to make some modifications to Kubica's auto because the Polish driver doesn't have full movement of his right hand. The first run was not so good, but the last lap felt good.

Renault appeared to struggle in the afternoon session with Nico Hulkenberg 13th and Carlos Sainz 17th, while Williams again propped up the times with Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin - 19th and 20th respectively - over 3.2s off the pace. "It sounds unusual that you can be happy with P19, but actually I'm happy".

"We could say 'OK, there is not enough overtaking but leave it like that until 2021.' And then we say we want the fans to be happy".

Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean of Haas were among those who went into the gravel in the morning.

Raikkonen went off at Turn 4 and had to recover through the gravel trap, but shortly after rejoining suffered a power unit problem on the run to Turn 10.

Sergio Perez had a mechanical issue with Force India and had to retire near the end of the second session.