Max Verstappen was left to rue a difficult final Q3 effort as championship rival Lewis Hamilton scored the 100th pole position of his F1 career.
Red Bull driver Verstappen had struggled in Friday practice at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya but bounced back to top the final session on Saturday morning.
After complaining of a balance issue in Q1, Verstappen then comfortably topped Q2, with Hamilton in his Mercedes cast adrift in that session.
After posting a time just 0.036secs off Hamilton's one minute 16.741s in his first Q3 effort, pole remained within reach but his final lap fell two-tenths of a second shy of his previous time, consigning Verstappen to just a front-row start.
"I struggled a little bit in Q1 but I think then we sorted out the balance for Q2 which was pretty good," said Verstappen.
"Then Q3 for me, to be honest, both laps were pretty decent. I think only the second run was a little bit worse for some reason.
"It's quite gusty around here so the wind changes a lot but nevertheless, I think second for us here on this track was very good.
"We know that they [Mercedes] are hard to beat around here but to be that close, I can be happy with that."
In the opening three races, Hamilton has taken two wins to Verstappen's one but the Dutchman is confident he can put up a good fight on Sunday.
He added: "It's a long run to turn one but first you have to make sure you have a good start. It seems like the pace is there so of course, I hope that we can have a good race as well."
As for concerns on tyre wear, he said: "Around here with all the fast corners and tyres overheating, tyre management is very important. We have to make sure that we are on top of that."
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