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Spanish Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton takes pole

Briton Lewis Hamilton took his third pole position of the season and the 150th of McLaren's Formula One history with a dazzling lap in the final minute of Saturday's qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The 27-year-old Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, clocked a best lap of 1min 21.707sec to finish half a second clear of nearest rival, Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado of Williams, at the end of a closely-contested and highly-tactical session.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton has grabbed his third pole position of the season. Pic/AFP

Hamilton's third pole of the season was the 22nd of his career and stretched his run of front row starts to five in succession. For Williams, it was a great present for team founder Frank Williams, who was celebrating his 70th birthday in the team garage.

Spaniard Fernando Alonso delighted his home fans when he claimed third place for Ferrari ahead of Frenchman Romain Grosjean and his Lotus team-mate Finn Kimi Raikkonen.

Mexican Sergio Perez of Sauber was sixth ahead of German Nico Rosberg of Mercedes and, unexpectedly, defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, who will line up eighth.

Seven-time champion German Michael Schumacher of Mercedes was ninth and Japanese Kamui Kobayashi was 10th in the second Sauber.

Both Vettel and Schumacher chose not to clock a competitive time in Q3 on a day when it was clear that many teams and drivers were more interested in preserving as many sets of tyres as possible in preference to claiming a strong grid position. 

Sahara Force India's Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg qualified in 13th and 14th position. Paul di Resta finally got the better of Force India partner Hulkenberg, 1m 23.125s to 1m 23.177s. 

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