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Hamilton had a lap time of 1 minute, 16.173 seconds at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, finishing only four hundredths of a second ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. We are back in a part of the world where Formula One has real traction and relevance.

Vettel and Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen are driving vehicles showing significant signs of improvement already this season. "I did some better races in the last five years, even if the last victory was five years ago".

Daniel Ricciardo, who crashed with Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in Azerbaijan, had a tough start to his weekend in Barcelona by going off the track and hitting a tire barrier midway through the session.

"I am seen as Lewis Hamilton the racing driver because that is the core of me, but I am hoping at some stage I will also be known as Lewis Hamilton, the racing driver and clothing designer".

Race organizers said additional security was implemented after several cars were broken into at a closed parking lot for the media at the track.

"I know Miami quite well and there are some better locations to put the track".

"We're back, I have to say", Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said after the session.

The team had to make some modifications to Kubica's auto because the Polish driver doesn't have full movement of his right hand. Sergei Sirotkin was back in the auto for the afternoon run.

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Kubica was 19th in 1:21.510, but quicker than his Canadian teenager teammate Lance Stroll who was 20th after a trip into the gravel.

"In the end it's hard to say that it was enjoyable because our vehicle balance was very bad and it was very hard to drive, so it was hard to enjoy", Kubica said.

BC-CAR-F1-Spanish GP, 3rd Ld-Writethru, 439 Hamilton takes pole for Spanish GP with track recordAP Photo XLB152, XLB143, XLB137, XLB144, XLB145, XLB146, XLB151, XLB155Eds: Updates with more detail, quotes.

Stroll almost hit the tire barriers after going off the track with about a half-hour left in the first session.

"You always want to know where you are by going as fast as you can".

The early part of the sessions was marked by several off-track excursions, with Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Marcus Ericsson, Brendon Hartley and Romain Grosjean all visiting the gravel traps, fortunately without any effect.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean rounded out the top 10 for Haas.

Vettel agreed, but then with the Saturday sweeties to come, he is never overly troubled by Friday's returns "It has been a tricky day with the tyres". Raikkonen was sixth, despite the power issue, with Stoffel Vandoorne ninth in his McLaren and Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten in his Force India.