Hamilton pips Bottas to top Spanish GP third practice

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel during practice

After winning the first two races in 2018 Sebastian Vettel finished off the podium in China and Azerbaijan Credit REUTERS

Following a disappointing qualifying session ahead of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have pinned their result on the reduced tread tyres that Pirelli have brought to the first European round of this season.

Bottas is fourth in the Driver's Championship on forty points, some thirty points behind team-mate (and current leader) Hamilton.

It was a record-extending 74th pole for Hamilton, and the first since the season-opener in Australia. "I believe our vehicle is very fast, we still need a bit more top speed but hopefully that will come".

"It was a very close qualifying; you could see all weekend it was close".

Mercedes locked out the front row in Spain, with Valtteri Bottas qualifying in P2, just 0.04s behind the Brit, who unleashed the Silver Arrows' power with a 1:16.173.

Red Bull opted to run on the slower medium tyres as Daniel Ricciardo clocked fifth fastest, followed by the improving Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

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Yesterday's qualifying saw Mercedes lock out the front row of the grid with Hamilton taking pole and Bottas in second. "Q1 was pretty good the auto was fine, we didn't have to do that much. It looks like our race is now with them but I'm sure Ferrari will turn it around".

"We got through all our running and were quite fast compared to previous years", Hamilton said.

'We should be at least as fast as we have been this year.

Fresh from claiming his first win of 2018 last time out in Baku, albeit thanks to some misfortune around him, Hamilton was pleased to have continued the momentum. So definitely important and happy, especially considering I had such a busy week coming into this weekend to have this performance, I'm very happy with that. "If this weekend we start to get on top of the issues we have had and we are more consistent then l will be a lot happier".

He finished down in fourth, however, almost half a second off pole and three tenths behind team-mate Vettel. The vehicle was fine and we didn't have much to do. Mercedes, on the other hand, have not challenged for the win, but were benefactors of a well times safety vehicle in Baku that allowed them to finish ahead of the Ferrari. I think the tyres will be a challenge even if the start doesn't go in our favour I think we have a strong vehicle to keep fighting so we will see... "I think it will be an interesting race". Probably the key point of tomorrow is the weather, there is some rain around and if that happens I think the race is going to ve very different.

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