Spanish Grand Prix: Lando Norris beats Max Verstappen to pole

Norris beat Verstappen in qualifying (REUTERS)
Norris beat Verstappen in qualifying (REUTERS)

Lando Norris produced a superb lap to beat Max Verstappen to pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The British driver was trailing Verstappen heading into the final runs at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya before he delivered the goods to take top spot.

Norris edged out the Red Bull man by just 0.020 seconds, with Lewis Hamilton in third, and George Russell fourth for Mercedes, with three British drivers in the top four.

"Let's f****** go, baby," yelled Norris after taking only his second pole of his career.

Norris' wonder lap arrived on the same day a McLaren staff member was hospitalised after a fire broke out at the British team's hospitality suite in the paddock.

"I would say it is my best pole position, and I have not had many, especially after what happened today," said Norris.

Norris has taken four podium finishes in his last five outings, including his maiden win in Miami last month.

The 24-year-old probably should have claimed another triumph last time out in Canada, but for a poor strategy call by his McLaren team during the rain-hit race.

But the Bristolian, 63 points behind Verstappen in the championship standings, will be handed another chance of glory here on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton finished third in qualifying (REUTERS)
Lewis Hamilton finished third in qualifying (REUTERS)

Hamilton survived a nervy moment in the second phase of qualifying when his opening tour left him in the knockout zone.

"That tyre was bad, man," complained the seven-time world champion, with team principal Toto Wolff wearing a face like thunder at the back of the team's garage.

Hamilton returned to the track and put his Mercedes on rails to haul him up to second with team-mate Russell, also on the brink of being eliminated, finishing third, 0.020 sec behind the other Mercedes, allowing the Silver Arrows to fight another day.

On to Q3, and Russell appeared angered by Hamilton's on-track conduct following his first run.

"What the f*** was Lewis doing prepping that lap?" he yelled over the radio. "He was just, it is fine, we will talk about it afterwards," Russell was told over the team radio.

Russell's outburst adds fuel to the fire of an unhappy camp at the Silver Arrows.

"I am really happy and super-grateful to be in the top three," said Hamilton, who headed into Saturday's qualifying session trailing team-mate Russell 8-1 over one lap this season.

"It has been a difficult year but we are seeing those incremental steps. I did not expect to be fighting for pole. The team are creating a machine that allows us to fight at the front."

Elsewhere, Carlos Sainz took fifth for Ferrari, one place ahead of Charles Leclerc in the other scarlet car.

Fernando Alonso claimed the last of his 32 career victories at this venue 11 years ago, and, despite huge support from the grandstands, the home favourite was unable to progress out of Q2. He will line up from 11th place, three spots ahead of Aston Martin team-mate Lance Stroll.