Pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix goes to Nico Rosberg after taking the top spot in qualifying.
After an hour of action at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Rosberg clinched the top spot and will start the race from pole position. Lewis Hamilton missed out on snatching pole from Rosberg by just 0.267 seconds after a dominate performance from the German.
Honours were mostly even over practice with Rosberg clinching the top spot in FP1 and FP3. While Hamilton took the top spot in the race-preparation FP2. Elsewhere in the paddock, Red Bull continued to struggle for reliability with their Renault power units forcing both drivers to spend considerable time in the garage.
But in the slightly warmer paddock from the final practice session, the green light flicked on & the flags began to wave, marking the start of qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.
First out of the pits was the Manor-Marussia of Roberto Merhi. Roberto is competing in his first Spanish Grand Prix and began qualifying for his home race by posting a 1:32.038 on the medium tyres. But that time was pushed down to second by Hulkenberg who smashed Merhi’s lap by more than three seconds on the same compound of tyres.
Most early laps times were set on the medium tyres, although the front running teams opted for the hards. Those on the hards included Carlos Sainz who moved into P1 with his first flying lap, something Rosberg and Hamilton were not able to do until they had carried out more laps to get temperature into their tyres.
Once all 20 drivers had posted a lap time, those who opted for the medium compound tyres early on still found themselves behind most of the hard running drivers. In fact, the only option running drivers inside the top 10 were the two McLaren’s in P5 and 6 along with Hulkenberg in P10.
Surprisingly when the second runs commenced with five minutes remaining in Q1, both Mercedes and Ferrari’s returned to the track. But out of the two teams, only Kimi Raikkonen hit the track on the option tyres while the other three used new hards.
With the soft tyres fitted, Raikkonen posted a purple first sector on his way to P2, but still remained two tenths down on Lewis after the Brit improved on his benchmark. Hamilton’s new benchmark was also hard for Vettel and Rosberg to beat on their initial laps.
At the other end, both Manor-Marussia’s remains rooted to the bottom of the timesheet. But they had been ditched by Maldonado who rocketed into the top 5 once the flag fell.
Jenson Button found himself sat in the drop zone with the Force India duo, but managed to nudge himself into P13 to edge away from elimination. However, Jenson’s P13 meant Alonso sat just two tenths away from P16 and elimination but neither Force India or Marcus Ericsson could improve to knock the home favourite out of quali.
OUT: Ericsson (p16), hulkenberg, Perez, Stevens, merhi
Now when the green flags began to waive around the circuit, the first of the 15 drivers to hit the track was Felipe Nasr in the now only Sauber. Nasr was also using used medium tyres for his opening lap time of 1:28.986, when he still had the track all to himself.
Once the front runners had posted their banker laps, Nasr found himself down at the bottom while Rosberg sat on top with a 1:25.116. Hamilton had previously moved on top with a 1:25.740, with Raikkonen and Vettel within half a second, but Nico thundered home his lap to create distance between himself and the field.
At the other end of the timesheet, Nasr sat in P15 with Button five hundredths of a second in front. Fellow McLaren driver, Fernando Alonso, sat in P11 with seven tenths between himself and a top 10 slot. Nevertheless, with just over two minutes to go all bar the top five had returned to the track and began pushing for a faster time.
First to improve was Felipe Nasr, but he was only able to go P13 before Grosjean and Button both improved to push the Sauber back into P15. Felipe Massa moved into the top five at the flag, but neither McLaren or Lotus were able to improve enough to beat the drop.
The two Red Bull’s managed to finish in the top 10 despite their reliability issues across practice, but the best they could do was still one and a half seconds back from Rosberg’s benchmark.
Out: Grosjean (P11), Maldonado, Alonso, Button and Nasr.
First out the block in Q3 were the Finns, Bottas and Raikkonen, but they weren’t alone for long. But getting out of the pits first allowed Valtteri to go P1 on a 1:25.880 before Hamilton moved a second clear.
For his benchmark time, Rosberg managed to go P1 on a 1:24.681 but over the middle sector, Nico actually lost two tenths of a second compared to Lewis’ banker lap. Behind the two Mercedes’ came Vettel, but the German sat half a second off of Lewis while his Ferrari team-mate sat a further second and a half back.
After a short break in proceedings while the drivers returned to the pits, all 10 men returned to the track for one last time in search of a strong grid position.
First to hit the line this time around was Kimi Raikkonen, but the Finn could only improve enough to secure P5 for the time being. Neither Vettel, Hamilton or Rosberg could actually improve on their banker laps, leaving Nico Rosberg to claim pole position. Despite not being able to improve, Nico’s final lap would have still been strong enough to hold off the challenge from Lewis and Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas ended the session in P4 and will start the race from the second row. But in front of the second Ferrari came both Toro Rosso’s as the rookie line up claimed P5 and P6 for the Spanish Grand Prix.
At the back of the top ten came Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo as the duo ended qualifying two seconds back from the pace-setting Nico Rosberg.