Hamilton takes pole at Spanish GP ahead of Vettel

Alonso said the giddy heights of seventh on the grid had not made him regret in any way his decision to miss Monaco, where overtaking is extremely hard and points would be a definite possibility from such a position.

(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti). Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his vehicle during the third practice session for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, Saturday, May 13, 2017.

Alonso is yet to see the chequered flag this season, having retired from the first three races of the year and failed to start last time out in Russian Federation. "I preferred to do some sport, so that if the auto was ready I would be, too", Alonso said. "There will be six cars (in F1) that will be unbeatable for the next few races".

And Alonso was keen to praise both McLaren and the home fans after delivering his best qualifying performance of the year so far.

Alonso is yet to finish a race this year. "It is a long run down the first turn, so it is important to get a good start".

Max Verstappen, the 2016 victor at a record age of 18, and fellow Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo will start the race from fifth and sixth on the grid.

On Friday morning, he was unable to run in the opening practice after his McLaren-Honda engine failed, returning in the afternoon for an unimpressive set of laps in second practice.

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Honda's F1 engine is said to be about 120bhp behind the pace-setting Mercedes and Ferrari units, which produce close to 1000bhp, and there are widespread rumours that Mercedes are to assist Honda with their engine technology in an attempt to help the Japanese company catch up. We need a smooth race without any problems and then we see what is possible.

Shortly before Bottas got onto the track, Vettel's Ferrari stopped in the pit lane and was rolled back by his team.

Alonso even gave a shout-out to his hardworking but ultimately hobbled team after qualifying.

"I am confident we will do a good start, maybe gain some positions, and who knows?"

In FP2, the wind picked up and caused plenty of wobbly moments out on track, with Vettel and Verstappen going through the gravel. "Yesterday, I wasn't feeling the rhythm".

Alonso was forced to park his vehicle after just three turns of the Circuit de Catalunya following an oil leak during his very first outing to the track.

"It's very gusty here".

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