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Nico Rosberg will start on pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix after comfortably breaking Lewis Hamilton's perfect 2015 qualifying streak at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The German, who comes into the weekend under pressure to make in-roads into the 27 point margin to the top, rediscovered some of his best single lap form set the benchmark on his first effort with a 1min 26.681secs time.

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Despite Rosberg failing to improve on his second attempt, Hamilton subsequently couldn't get close on either of his laps, falling almost three tenths short at the chequered flag as his team-mate ultimately pumped in two laps capable of putting pole position out of his reach.

It is Rosberg's first pole position since the 2014 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Having looked capable of taking on the Mercedes' during free practice, Sebastian Vettel couldn't materialise a front row challenge, proving eight tenths slower than the pole time but landing a comfortable third quickest nonetheless.

The former champion will share row two with the impressive Valtteri Bottas, who got to within two tenths of his rival to secure his best starting position of the season in fourth place for Williams.

However, it was the achievement of Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen in fifth and sixth that would prove arguably the bigger surprise, the two rookies locking out the third row and doing so in style, demoting an out-of-sorts Kimi Raikkonen to seventh, the Finn a full second slower than his team-mate.

Out-performed by former team Toro Rosso, but out-qualifying his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat gets underway from eighth, ahead of Felipe Massa - who made a mistake on his flying lap - and Ricciardo.

In contrast to the closeness of the mid-field in Bahrain, the fight for Q3 in Spain would prove considerably more staggered, with Romain Grosjean qualifying 11th but doing so half a second adrift of a challenge to make it into the top ten. He will start alongside Lotus team-mate Pastor Maldonado.

Having shown flashes of form in free practice, McLaren's Q3 target will have to wait until Monaco as both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button fell short in 13th and 14th respectively, even if both drivers would get the better of the Saubers, Felipe Nasr leading Marcus Ericsson in 15th and 16th.

Having cracked the top ten in Bahrain, Force India would fall at the first hurdle this time, with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez down in 17th and 18th on the grid. Completing the two-by-two format of 11th to 20th, Will Stevens again out-qualified local driver Roberto Merhi in the Manor.