Spanish GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Nico Rosberg won his second pole of the season as he topped qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix. His teammate Lewis Hamilton gridded second to give Mercedes a front row lockout for the race.
"It's just worked really well all weekend," Rosberg said. "After Bahrain we thought about the race a lot, so we worked in a different way. I got a really good lap today, I'm very happy. For the team it's fantastic to be in the front row, but we have to be careful, as we saw what happened to us in Bahrain.
"Everyone has been working hard in the factory to understand the car and the tires. It's very complex for the drivers and engineers, and we're a bit behind the other teams. There's a lot of graining and we're trying to catch up, We've done good things, this morning was better, I'm more confident for the race but tomorrow it's still going to be a tough day for us."
The ambient air temperature at the start of the 20-minute Q1 session was 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius.)
Nobody ventured out, however, when the green lights came on to indicate that pit lane was open. As usual, the teams were waiting for somebody else to go out and blow the dust off the track.
Who would be the first to do so? Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso and Pastor Maldonado in the Williams when the session was four minutes old.
Then Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber), Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) and others joined them. All were on the hard Pirelli tires.
Ricciardo posted the first time ‚Äì 1:24.100 ‚Äì but it didn't stand for long as Vergne went ahead with a 1:23.467.
At the midpoint of the session Kimi Raikkonen posted a 1:23.087 in his Lotus fitted with the hard tires. His teammate Romain Grosjean moved into second with a 1:23.196. Nine drivers had yet to go out at that stage.
With minutes remaining, Fernando Alonso turned a 1:22.264 in his Ferrari on the hard compound, and his teammate Felipe Massa took over second with a 1:22.492.
With 4 minutes remaining, Nico Rosberg, with the medium compound tire on his Mercedes, moved into first with a 1:21.913. Then his teammate Lewis Hamilton, also on mediums, topped that with a 1:21.728.
Sebastian Vettel claimed the third spot in his Red Bull, and Raikkonen ended up fourth after his last and very fast run was baulked by Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez. Alonso, Mark Webber (Red Bull), Massa, Grosjean, Paul di Resta (Force India) and Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) rounded out the top 10.
McLaren teammates Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were struggling for pace and ended up 15th and 14th respectively.
The six drivers eliminated in Q1 were: Valterri Bottas and his Williams teammate and last year's winner Pastor Maldonado, Guido van der Garde (Caterham), Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton in the Marussias, and Charles Pic (Caterham.)
Once again, when the green lights came on to start the 15-minute Q2 session nobody was keen to venture out.
Gutierrez broke the stalemate with just over 12 minutes remaining, and his Sauber teammate Nico Hulkenberg was out next.
Gutierrez posted the first time of the session: 1:22.910, but Hulkenberg beat that with a 1:22.708 and then Raikkonen topped that with a 1:21.676.
Everybody was on the medium compound Pirelli tires.
With 6 minutes remaining, Alonso went fastest with a time of 1:21.646.
With just under 5 minutes remaining, everybody was in the pits except Vettel. He bounced to the top with a 1:21.602.
Hamilton was out of the top 10 but topped the times with a 1:21.001 in the final seconds.
The six drivers eliminated in Q2 were: Ricciardo, Vergne, Adrian Sutil (Force India), Button, Hulkenberg and Gutierrez.
Sergio Perez set the seventh fastest time and out qualified his McLaren teammate Button for the first time this year.
Raikkonen was the first out for the final 10-minute 10-car shootout. He clocked a 1:21.539.
Rosberg beat that with a 1:20.824 and Alonso moved into second with a 1:21.228.
With three minutes to go, all 10 drivers were in the pits. With just over 10 minutes remaining, all 10 headed out. The top five at that time were: Rosberg, Alonso, Massa, Grosjean and Raikkonen.
Nobody was going to beat Rosberg, however, and he made sure of that by lowering his time to a 1:20.718. Hamilton moved up to second with a 1:20.972 to make it an all-Mercedes front row. Vettel, who had not made a run earlier in the session, jumped up to third with a 1:21.054.
"We were pretty happy with what we achieved," Vettel said. "We understand the car better today, especially in the last sector. We improved the car, got the car sorted out, we had a different strategy with tires and we'll see tomorrow if that will help us. Now the conditions are better than in the winter but managing the tires will still be a tough challenge, but it's the challenge we have to take tomorrow."
Raikkonen wound up fourth with a 1:21.177 and Alonso fifth with a 1:21.218.
Massa, Grosjean, Webber, Perez and di Resta rounded out the top 10.