Hamilton and Maldonado share the front row in Spain

2012 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Barcelona, 2012Lewis Hamilton claimed his third pole position of the year and his first ever at the Circuit de Catalunya.

He will share the front row of the grid for the Spanish Grand Prix will Wiliams driver Pastor Maldonado.

Fernando Alonso took third at home in front of the two Lotuses.


With the soft tyre offering an improvement of over a second per lap over the hard tyre, and the top 14 cars covered by a second in practice, it was clear that none of the front runners would be able to get away with not running the soft tyre in Q1.

Red Bull accepted the inevitable and didn’t even bother to send Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber out for a run on hard tyres at the beginning of the session, holding back until the final six minutes, then heading out on softs.

Even Lewis Hamilton, who was fastest to begin with, decided to use a set of softs to guarantee his place in Q2. His lap of 1’22.583 was seven-tenths faster than anyone else could manage.

The contest to escape Q1 was as close and fraught as usual. Jean-Eric Vergne looked on course to drop out early again when he failed to improve with his last effort.

But he still had Bruno Senna behind him, and the Williams driver had a scruffy middle sector on his final lap. He never made it to the finishing line, spinning off at turn 12, letting Vergne off the hook.

Narain Karthikeyan only completed four laps and his best effort was outside of the 107% time by 1.8 seconds.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’24.981
19 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’25.277
20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’25.507
21 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’26.582
22 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’27.022
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’27.555
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’31.122


Hamilton avoided having to make a second run in Q2 – his first effort of 1’22.465 was good enough to secure him a place in the final ten.

Webber also tried to do a single run but paid the price – he was shuffled down to 12th as the others improved. Jenson Button was another surprise eliminated despite doing a pair of runs, as he continued to struggle with understeer in his car.

Lotus and Toro Rosso only did single runs, coming out late in the session. The Lotus pair made it through but both Toro Rossos were eliminated.

Neither Force India driver made it through to Q3 and Felipe Massa was also eliminated – his lap 0.6s slower than team mate Alonso’s.

Pastor Maldonado was the only driver to beat Hamilton’s time, ending Q2 fastest after his team mate had been knocked out in Q1.

Kamui Kobayashi grabbed a place in Q3 but wasn’t able to make use of it – a hydraulic problem forced him to stop at turn three on his way back to the pits.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’22.944
12 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’22.977
13 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’23.125
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’23.177
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’23.265
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’23.442
17 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’23.444


Vettel queued up at the exit of the pits as he waited for the final ten minutes of qualifiyng to begin. But after taking to the track he returned to his garage without setting a time, apparently expecting many other drivers would also not set times.

Hamilton went out next and did set a time. He was followed by the two Mercedes drivers – Rosberg taking second place, Schumacher also pitting without setting a time.

Now the session started to liven up. Fernando Alonso headed out in the Ferrari and produced a superb lap to beat Hamilton’s time. Neither of the Lotuses could beat it, Grosjean edging Raikkonen.

But Maldonado could, and for a few seconds the Williams driver was on pole position with a lap of 1’22.285.

However Hamilton had returned to the circuit, and produced a blistering lap of 1’21.707 to claim pole position by half a second.

Hamilton hit trouble on his return to the pits, his engineer telling him to stop on his in-lap due to an unspecified problem with the car.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’21.707
2 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’22.285
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’22.302
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’22.424
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’22.497
6 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’22.533
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’23.005
8 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault No time
9 Michael Schumacher Mercedes No time
10 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber No time

2012 Spanish Grand Prix

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Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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155 comments on Hamilton and Maldonado share the front row in Spain

  1. DVC (@dvc) said on 12th May 2012, 14:44

    The tyres are the what connects the car to the race track. They are the most important part of most categories of racing.

  2. Ken (@myxomatosis) said on 12th May 2012, 14:45

    He has a point, he just didn’t articulate it well. When top drivers are doing sight-seeing laps in what is supposed to be the most intense qualifying session because they want to preserve tyres then surely that’s something that should be looked into, right?

    The tyres could be better, that’s all.

  3. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 12th May 2012, 14:47

    What an excellent quali session – I thought it would be awful after the first few minutes of Q3.
    Awesome pace from Hamilton and Maldonado, as long as the pit crew don’t mess up I wouldn’t doubt Lewis for the win tomorrow, he certainly has the pace to do it.
    And as for Massa… I won’t say anything.

    • zicasso (@zicasso) said on 12th May 2012, 14:57

      Poor Massa, I cannot even imagine what’s on his head at the moment. I totally agree, Hamilton has been unlucky with his pit stops this season. If that goes well he is in with a good chance. BUT, Alonso has a strong race pace, is motivated and will have the crowd inciting in his home circuit. Tomorrow’s race promises excitement.

  4. Rahim.RG (@rahim-rg) said on 12th May 2012, 15:00

    Raikkonen for Win:)

  5. Adam Blocker (@blockwall2) said on 12th May 2012, 15:04

    This race could be chaotic, especially considering the chance of rain. I predict Maldonado causes a big accident at turn one (hopefully not taking out Hamilton)

  6. tuvothepirate (@tuvothepirate) said on 12th May 2012, 15:07

    Does anyone know if Massa has all the upgrades as well as Alonso? There must be something more than just driver performance causing that big of a gap.

  7. HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th May 2012, 15:09

    Looking on the bright side Webber has 5 sets of new softs and 6 sets of new hards for the race. Tyres being the most important thing in racing ( so I have been told ) we might as well give him the trophy now.

    • Theo said on 12th May 2012, 15:34

      Well you never really do know WHICH race might require you to make 11 mandatory pitstops. Can you really trust the FIA or Bernie?

  8. cpeterip (@cpeterip) said on 12th May 2012, 15:19

    All you Hamilton jokers –imagine what would happen if it was Alonso that stopped on the track & they penalised him!!! Tyres have already ruined F1 – it has become a “tyre saving” exercise in both qualy & race. Depending how far back you go – definately NOT- back in the day- of F1 being the pinnicle of racing!

  9. Theo said on 12th May 2012, 15:28

    Things to take away from qualifying:
    A) If that Ferrari can manage P3 all season, Alonso will take the title.
    B) Massa… very very seriously needs to be looked at.
    C) Button is probably regretting not testing in Mugello. Since Australia, he’s failed to get a hang of the car. Although tomorrow is another day.
    D) The Lotuses are surprisingly consistent and are keeping up in terms of development. Kimi cannot be ruled out as a title contender.
    E) Mercedes, despite the double DRS have fallen massively off-pace. Their race pace wasn’t exactly anything to write about home earlier either.
    F) Red Bull is just confusing the heck out of me! Their proper race pace (and not from the front of the grid!) remains to be seen.
    G) This season is turning out to be better than 2010! I shall dub thee – “The Silly Season”

    • Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 12th May 2012, 16:22

      Regarding Mercedes, I don’t think they were expecting to be fast this weekend. Their DDRS is only really effective on the main straight, and Rosberg was saying last week that they were still struggling in the fast corners.

  10. Jason12 said on 12th May 2012, 15:35

    There’s no much technology around F1, but all of that seems to just get nullified by pirelli’s crapy tyres.
    Speed and that ‘do or die’ attitude is being lost to nursing the tyres home.
    Sport should be about giving all you’ve got all the time!

  11. Jason12 said on 12th May 2012, 15:36

    There’s so much technology around F1, but all of that seems to just get nullified by pirelli’s crapy tyres.
    Speed and that ‘do or die’ attitude is being lost to nursing the tyres home.
    Sport should be about giving all you’ve got all the time!

  12. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 12th May 2012, 15:43

    I was watching with BBC today. ~ Alonso goes P2…Ferrari are going to struggle to make Q3…Kimi goes P4…nice time for Kimi. The British commentators are ridiculous.

  13. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 12th May 2012, 15:50

    I wonder what Vettel will be able to do starting possibly on the hard tyres, well done Maldonado for the 2nd (sadly I can only see him dropping back though). Fantastic from Alonso as well to get that Ferrari on the 2nd row infront of his home crowd, and I’ve got to hand it to Lewis he was fantastic throughout qualifying.
    As for Webber & Button, if they can pull off a Räikkonen then it may well make up for a disappointing qualifying, and the disappointment of the day has to be Senna, is that the lowest position on the grid the Senna name has ever been in F1?

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 12th May 2012, 16:20

      No. Ayrton has qualified lower, and Bruno certainly has when driving for HRT.

    • evered7 (@evered7) said on 12th May 2012, 16:25

      You forgot his HRT days:) I think he has more to offer than Maldonado, atleast in the races.

      Also Massa said he ran into some traffic during the lap and lost some time in it. in FP1 he was much closer to Alonso and given the tightness of the grid, I can understand his relative low position. But he can make up a good number of places if Ferrari come up with a good strategy since on Prime tires, the Ferrari is on fire.

  14. Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 12th May 2012, 17:04

    Massa was on an average 0.6 sec slower than Alonso in qualifying. Although I was surprised with how much steering input he was putting in corners but he is clearly getting worse by every season. I would have been happier if Felipe left rather than Rubens.

    Mercedes were to struggle on this track anyways. It seems like a one time wonder for me this season as all positives came into one for them in China.

  15. alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 12th May 2012, 17:06

    Hamilton-Maldonado front row, that will be interesting given their run ins during the Monaco and Belgian Grand Prix weekends last year.

    • Glenn (@glennb) said on 12th May 2012, 17:39

      True enough. I wouldn’t want to be Hamilton with Maldonado beside me. Maldonado has nothing to lose going balls out for the first corner. Fernando may well be in the box seat if it turns to cr@p at the first corner, especially if it’s wet.

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