Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton is keen to end Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg’s seven-race winning streak after denying the Formula One leader pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo claimed third spot for Sunday’s race, with a fastest lap of one minute 22.680 seconds on the Circuit de Catalunya.
Hamilton’s stunning performance, his fastest lap 1:22.000, put a smile back on his face after power unit problems in the past two races.
“Hopefully everything comes together,” he said.
“I’ve been working on the starts … I will try and get off on the right foot and tomorrow could be the day.”
Rosberg qualified second, 0.280 slower, and has a real fight on his hands if he is to become only the third driver after compatriot Michael Schumacher and Britain’s Nigel Mansell to win the first five races of a season.
“Fortunately it’s the race that counts,” said the disappointed German, who leads Hamilton by 43 points overall.
“There are still a couple of opportunities tomorrow, for sure.”
The pole was the 52nd of Hamilton’s career, and third of the season.
For Mercedes, it was their 11th in a row.
Red Bull filled the second row, with Ricciardo jubilant at third, while Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was a stunning fourth on his debut weekend with the team after moving up from Toro Rosso.
Verstappen’s grid position was the best by a Dutch driver in Formula One and he had been third in the first two phases of qualifying, slower only than the Mercedes duo.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were a disappointing fifth and sixth with the pressure mounting on the team.
Finland’s Valtteri Bottas starts seventh for Williams, with Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa only 18th, while Spaniard Carlos Sainz qualified eighth for Toro Rosso.
Double world champion Fernando Alonso put McLaren into the final phase of qualifying for the first time this season and will start 10th in his home race.