MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes were in a class of their own again in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday, while struggling four-time champion Sebastian Vettel stalled and was demoted on the grid.
Hamilton edged teammate — and main rival — Nico Rosberg with a late lap of 1 minute, 25.232 seconds on the sunny and dry Barcelona-Catalunya circuit for his fourth pole of the Formula One season and 35th in his career.
Rosberg, the overall leader, came in second at 0.16 seconds behind to set up another driving duel. Hamilton has won the last three races right in front of Rosberg, with the rest of the field far behind.
"Nico was really driving well though practice and qualifying," Hamilton said. "I didn't know if I was going to get it, but right at the end I had to eke out absolutely everything I could get from the car."
Vettel's Red Bull has left him stranded twice in two days. First it rolled to a halt during Friday's first practice session, and it failed him again early in the third period of qualifying.
Vettel was left 10th in qualification, but he will start from 15th on the grid after Red Bull incurred a five-place penalty for replacing his car's damaged gearbox. Regulations require gearboxes to be used for at least six consecutive races.
As Vettel's troubles mounted, new partner Daniel Ricciardo finished with the third fastest time ahead of Williams' Valtteri Bottas and Lotus' Romain Grosjean.
Fernando Alonso, last year's winner here, could do no better than seventh place, right behind Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton complained to his team early in the day that they "made the car worse" after minor changes to try and improve on its already commanding performances from Friday, when the British driver dominated both practices.
"It was a real handful for me," Hamilton said. "It was back to square one. I was a half second behind Nico but at the end I did it by the skin of my teeth."
Rosberg wasn't afraid to show his disappointment.