Lewis Hamilton has revealed he came up trumps in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix by playing "an ace card" that landed him the 35th pole position of his Formula One career.

Just when it appeared as if Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg would pip Hamilton to top spot on the grid at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya after going quickest in the first two sessions, Hamilton saved his best lap for last.

That was despite bemoaning the state of his car in the first session, which he claimed had become "a nightmare to drive" following a Friday in which he dominated practice.

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Hamilton, though, managed to edge Rosberg by 0.168secs and will now look to make it four wins in a row with a maiden triumph in Spain. If Hamilton can achieve such a feat it would finally see him overhaul Rosberg in the drivers' standings as he goes into the race four points adrift.

With 17 of the 23 races overall in Barcelona won from pole, and 11 of the last 13, the odds are certainly in Hamilton's favour.

But in having to pull something out of the bag on this occasion, the situation was in stark contrast to the last race in China where he was dominant all the way through.

The 29-year-old said: "When you're quicker the whole way through and you get pole then it's a good feeling because you've had the edge the whole time.

"When you've been on the back foot, and clearly your team-mate has had the upper hand, but then you pull out an ace card for that last lap, it is great feeling.

"In the back of your mind, though, you know you weren't quick enough. Nico has a slightly different set-up, and as to which one will work best, we will see."

It means that despite Mercedes' total domination of the season so far, fans could at least be treated to another wheel-to-wheel duel between the duo as was the case in Bahrain last month.

"We're going to work as hard as we can to make sure that's not the case," said Hamilton. "I don't plan on having another race like Bahrain, but if it is then I'm ready for it."

Rosberg's problem now is a mental one as Hamilton has won the last three races and claimed the last two pole positions, and four out of five this season.

"The mental game is all part of the sport, which does provide you with momentum, and obviously he has momentum," said Rosberg. The hope amongst Mercedes' rivals is they would have closed the gap at this race given the level of upgrades on their cars.

Mercedes, however, have appeared to have made greater strides, to such an extent Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo starts third, a second adrift of Hamilton.

"We're again the best of the rest, but that's not good enough," said Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel starts 10th after losing drive at the start of the top-10 shoot-out. It was another kick in the teeth for the four-time world champion after missing virtually all of Friday's practice sessions due to his car incurring a wiring fault.

Vettel said: "Now I just have to do the best I can from the position I am in."

His woes may not end there because if the team has to replace the gearbox then the 26-year-old German will incur a five-place grid penalty.

Meanwhile, Caterham have axed technical director Mark Smith and formed a committee in a bid to address their disastrous start to the year. The team are at the foot of the constructors' championship, with their car noticeably slower than that of rivals Marussia.