Mercedes scored their third consecutive pole position in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix despite having shown little of their one-lap pace during practice.
Lewis Hamilton gave the first indication of their potential with a stunning lap in Q2. But it was Nico Rosberg who took pole position with Hamilton joining him on the front row.
Q1 began in ideal conditions with the track temperature up to 36C. But it took five minutes for the first cars to appear on the track.
The Lotus drivers headed the times initially but as their rivals improved both E21s had to be sent out for further runs. Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean managed to improve their times sufficiently – the former doing so despite catching Esteban Gutierrez at the end of his lap.
“The Sauber blocked me completely,” complained Raikkonen. “He should get a penalty that was stupid.” He wasn’t the only driver complaining about being held up – Jenson Button had much the same to say about Pastor Maldonado after catching the Williams driver at the end of his lap. But Button also made it through to Q2.
Both Ferrari and Red Bull drivers only needed a single run to secure their places in Q2. Fernando Alonso was comfortably fastest until his time, set on hard tyres, was beaten by the medium-tyred Mercedes pair.
With the Caterham and Marussia drivers eliminated as usual, they were joined by the two Williams drivers, underlining how the team’s fortunes have changes since they won this race last year.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
|19||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1’24.661|
Raikkonen hit the top of the times early on again but once again he was pegged back by a Ferrari. Alonso edged him by three hundredths of a second, then Vettel found another four-hundredths of a second on top of that.
But those wafer-thin margins were shattered by a stunning final lap by Hamilton, who beat them by six tenths of a second to end Q2 on top.
Webber improved to fifth after being told he was trying to activate DRS too early at the exit of turn nine and complaining he was held up by Massa. Joining the Red Bull driver on a 1’21.7 was Rosberg and – surprisingly – Sergio Perez, who dragged the McLaren into Q3. Button could only manage 14th.
Perez’s improvement consigned the two Toro Rossos to elimination along with Sutil – who got too close to Vergne on his run – Button and the two Saubers. Nico Hulkenberg said his lap had been “mega” and was astonished to discover he had missed Q3 by the margin he had.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’22.127|
|12||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’22.166|
|13||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1’22.346|
Hamilton sat out the first round of laps in Q3 while team mate Rosberg went quickest with a 1’20.824. Alonso got closest but was four tenths of a second off the Mercedes, with Massa just a few hundredths off him.
But the home favourite’s fortunes took a turn for the worse when all ten drivers took to the track for their final runs. Raikkonen posted an improvement and faster times from Vettel and Hamilton pushed the Ferrari driver back to the third row. Massa came close to relegating him further – the pair were separated by just one thousandth of a second when the chequered flag came out.
Hamilton’s first effort wasn’t enough to beat Rosberg’s – and the latter improved with his second run as well to comfortably secure his second consecutive pole position.
Top ten in Q3
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’21.054|
|8||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1’21.570|
|10||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1’22.233|
2013 Spanish Grand Prix
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- Ferrari one-two in Spanish GP Driver of the Weekend
- Spanish Grand Prix gets lowest rating of 2013 so far
- 2013 Spanish Grand Prix fans’ video gallery
- Ferrari join Lotus in criticising tyre revisions
Image ?é?® Daimler/Hoch Zwei