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Qualifying - Hamilton on pole from Maldonado 12 May 2012

(L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari, pole sitter Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams celebrate in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2012 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1 VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2012 Charles Pic (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2012

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton grabbed a sensational pole position here in Barcelona on Saturday afternoon, pushing surprise frontrunner Pastor Maldonado one place down the Spanish grid.

Maldonado had been very quick for Williams in Q2 and had just snatched provisional pole from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and the Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen with 1m 22.285s when Hamilton redefined the parameters with 1m 21.707s.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Hamilton has compromised his race chances by doing two fast runs on his soft tyres as his closest rivals did only one, and why he was told to stop his McLaren on his slowdown lap.

Alonso pleased the Spanish crowd hugely with 1m 22.302s, especially when they recalled his rocket start into the lead here last year, while Grosjean’s 1m 22.424s just aced Raikkonen’s 1m 22.487s.

Sergio Perez was sixth for Sauber with 1m 22.533s, while Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was the only other top-10 runner to post a time, with 1m 23.005s.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel will start eighth after voluntarily aborting two runs, while Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher similarly didn’t record a Q3 time and Kamui Kobayashi was hors de combat after his Sauber, ninth fastest in Q2, rolled to a halt on his slowdown lap. He’ll start tenth alongside Schumacher.

Maldonado had been the major surprise of Q2. Hamilton was super-quick with 1m 22.465s but right at the end the Williams driver aced everyone with 1m 22.105s. That was great news for Sir Frank Williams who recently celebrated his 70th birthday, but not so good for McLaren’s Jenson Button or Red Bull’s Mark Webber. They had lapped in 1m 22.944s and 1m 22.977s respectively, and found themselves bumped as eight-tenths covered the top 12.

Behind them, Paul di Resta finally got the better of Force India partner Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 23.125s to 1m 23.177s, with Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo getting bumped too in their Toro Rossos after strong laps of 1m 23.265s and 1m 23.442s. Felipe Massa’s woes continued as he was 17th for Ferrari on 1m 23.444s.

As Hamilton dominated with 1m 22.583s to Grosjean’s 1m 23.248s, Bruno Senna inadvertently saved Jean-Eric Vergne’s skin in Q1 by spinning his Williams in Turn 12 on his soft-tyre run. Thus the Brazilian was the first of those who failed to make Q2 with 1m 24.981s.

Vitaly Petrov was Caterham’s faster runner with 1m 25.277s to Heikki Kovalainen’s 1m 25.507s, Charles Pic shaded Timo Glock at Marussia with 1m 26.582s to 1m 27.032s, while Pedro de la Rosa is currently HRT’s only qualified runner. The Spaniard lapped in 1m 27.555s as further technical problems restricted Narain Karthikeyan to 1m 31.122s. Although well outside the 107 percent time of 1m 28.363s, the stewards have decided that the Indian will be allowed to start.

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