Sports

Rosberg tops Hamilton for Spanish GP pole

Barcelona, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Nico Rosberg from Mercedes claimed his first pole position of the season after beating his teammate and defending Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton in Saturday's qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Rosberg's lap in 1 minute, 24.681 seconds during the final round of qualifying earned him the top starting position for Sunday's 66-lap race at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit. His lap time was 0.267 seconds quicker than Hamilton.

It was Rosberg's 16th career F1 pole, including his second in the Spanish GP. He started first and finished sixth here in 2013. The German won 11 poles in 2014, including the season-finale in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton captured the pole in each of the first four grand prix this season.

"I needed (the pole position) sooner rather than later because it's just one step in the right direction to winning the race here this weekend," Rosberg said. "It was a good day in the office."

Rosberg is seeking his first win of the season after scoring five victories last year. He posted the fastest lap in two of the three practice sessions for this race, including final practice held just prior to qualifying.

Hamilton is the defending winner of the Spanish GP. He enters this race with a 27-point lead over Rosberg in the championship standings. Hamilton has won three races in 2015, including the last two -- China and Bahrain.

"Nico did a great job," Hamilton said. "I didn't have the balance where I like it. I did my best with it. I think tomorrow there's still a lot to play for."

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel qualified third, 0.777 seconds behind Rosberg.

"We should be in good shape tomorrow, and I hope for a good race," Vettel said. "Those two guys (Rosberg and Hamilton) are doing a good job. They've been very quick here."

Valtteri Bottas from Williams took the fourth spot, while Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz, a Spaniard, and Max Verstappen were fifth and sixth, respectively. Sainz and Verstappen, who is 17 years old, are both rookies this season.

Qualifying seventh through 10th were Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Kvyat from Red Bull, Williams' Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo, who is Kvyat's teammate.

Spanish driver Fernando Alonso placed his McLaren 13th on the starting grid for his home race, which is one spot ahead of his teammate, Jenson Button.