Spanish GP | Hamilton betters Rosberg’s qualifying run for pole

Pole position at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya secured by Lewis Hamilton.

Qualifying in Spain has high influence on the race in Barcelona, where Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position. Nico Rosberg had taken provisional pole as Hamilton locked up, but a 1:22.0 gave Hamilton his 52nd career pole as Red Bull take third and fourth.

Hamilton had been struggling for set up on Friday, as Rosberg set the pace and continued to do so in the final practice session as Ferrari closed to within two tenths.

Come qualifying however Ferrari’s challenge faded, leaving Hamilton to battle Rosberg for pole while Verstappen shone in his Red Bull debut.

Q1

As the green light flicked on to mark the start of the first stage of qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix, Pascal Wehrlein took to the track. Pascal was joined by his Manor counterpart, with Indonesia’s first Formula One driver taking the early advantage with Rio leading by one tenth.

Practice pace showed the battle between Manor and Sauber could be close this weekend. And the close knit battle continued into Q1 as the two Sauber’s edged ahead of Manor by one and two tenths.

Yet while Sauber continue to face financial struggles, leading to the team being unable to develop the car, the championship leading Mercedes showed how much stronger their car is to two of F1’s back-markers. With Rosberg creating a 2.8 second lead over the leading Sauber of Nasr.

The battle of the Red Bull team-mates interestingly initially fell in favour of Max Verstappen. With Max, in his Red Bull debut, lapping 0.574 seconds off Rosberg’s pace. Whereas Ricciardo’s first flyer was only the fourth fastest time, two tenths slower than Kvyat’s replacement.

Ferrari’s first laps with Raikkonen and Vettel left the team with work to do in order to challenge for pole, after Vettel ended FP3 just the tenth behind Rosberg. Raikkonen’s first lap was two tenths slower than Verstappen. While Vettel too could not better Max’s time with his first lap.

After most drivers returned to the pits, Wehrlein improved on his first time to go ahead of Nasr. Although the Brazilian himself improved to regain P20.

With most of the session gone as well, Williams were yet to send either driver out for their first runs. When Massa did exit the pits, his lap was far from optimal as he hit traffic which saw Felipe finish his run 1.9 seconds off Rosberg. The Brazilian also returned to the garage as a timing issue prevented another run, which ultimately cost him a Q2 chance as he became eliminated in 18th place.

Jenson Button jumped out of the drop zone following the chequered flag at the expense of Jolyon Palmer. Palmer incidentally was the driver to initially push Massa into the drop zone when he moved up to 16th in the moment preceding Button’s flyer.

Out in Q1: Palmer; Massa; Ericsson; Nasr; Wehrlein; Haryanto.

Q2

For the second stage of qualifying in Spain, Mercedes broke the silence with Hamilton leading Rosberg onto the track. At the end of their first flyers, Hamilton was not only ahead on the track as a 1:22.159 by Lewis placed him in P1,  six tenths up on Rosberg.

Nico’s time was enough to leave himself comfortably in second place. With Max Verstappen sticking the Red Bull in third place again. This time though Verstappen created a five tenth lead over Ricciardo, with Vettel nipping in two hundredths up on Daniel for fourth.

Kimi on the other hand was yet to set a time with two minutes remaining in Q2, after offs at turns three and five led to Raikkonen abandoning his flyer. His next run however saw Kimi take fourth, two tenths up on Vettel.

With Ricciardo behind his new team-mate after two qualifying  stages, Daniel rejoined the action for another run. Verstappen’s former Toro Rosso seat, now filled by Kvyat, meanwhile was occupying 14th place as the chequered flag fell. With only Button and Magnussen behind Kvyat.

Jenson though moved into the top 10 with his final flying lap, while Kvyat could only take 11th. P10 would have seen McLaren secure a Q3 position for the first time since the return of Honda to Formula One at the start of 2015. But it was not to be for Jenson as Hulkenberg pushed Button into 11th, while Perez improved to take seventh at the expense of his team-mate.

Gutierrez could only take 16th place as the last man in the drop zone to cross the line. Whereas Alonso in 10th (by 0.011 seconds) meant McLaren were in Q3 for the first time since the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Out in Q2: Hulkenberg; Button; Kvyat; Grosjean; Magnussen; Gutierrez.

Q3

Like in Q2, Hamilton led the field from the pitlane at the start of Q3. But unlike Q2, Hamilton was not leading the timesheet come the end of the first runs as a heavy lock up into turn 10 caused Lewis to go deep and miss the apex.

Hamilton had been four tenths up on Rosberg through the first two sectors before the lock up, leading Lewis to set a 1:23.277. Rosberg incidentally set a 1:22.475 for provisional pole. Nico’s time though was slower than Hamilton’s best from Q2.

Raikkonen and Vettel’s first flying laps for the final stage of qualifying left the Ferrari’s over a second off of Rosberg’s benchmark. With both over eight tenths slower than Hamilton despite his lock up.

The only other driver to set a time in the early Q3 stages was Verstappen, with Max lapping seven tents off Rosberg and a tenth up on Hamilton.

When Hamilton and Raikkonen left their garages for the final time in qualifying, Lewis was forced to hit the brakes as Kimi left the Ferrari garage in close proximity to Hamilton. Lewis even had to slow on his out lap in order to create space for his pole chance lap.

Kimi meanwhile was charging in front as he bettered Verstappen’s provisional lap to split the Red Bulls, after Ricciardo’s first Q3 time was just two tenths down on Rosberg for second. Max though was able to better Raikkonen’s time to regain a top four place and will start his first race with Red Bull on the second row of the grid.

Verstappen will line up on Sunday behind Nico Rosberg, after Lewis Hamilton stormed his final flying lap to claim pole with a 1:22.000.

Ferrari, after being close in final practice, were forced to settle for the third row and end the day over a second off Hamilton’s pace.

Pos Driver Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton 1:23.214 1:22.159 1:22.000
2 Nico Rosberg 1:23.002 1:22.759 1:22.280
3 Daniel Ricciardo 1:23.749 1:23.585 1:22.680
4 Max Verstappen 1:23.578 1:23.178 1:23.087
5 Kimi Raikkonen 1:23.796 1:23.504 1:23.113
6 Sebastian Vettel 1:24.124 1:23.688 1:23.334
7 Valtteri Bottas 1:24.251 1:24.023 1:23.522
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. 1:24.496 1:24.077 1:23.643
9 Sergio Perez 1:24.698 1:24.003 1:23.782
10 Fernando Alonso 1:24.578 1:24.192 1:23.981
11 Nico Hulkenberg 1:24.463 1:24.203
12 Jenson Button 1:24.583 1:24.348
13 Daniil Kvyat 1:24.696 1:24.445
14 Romain Grosjean 1:24.716 1:24.480
15 Kevin Magnussen 1:24.669 1:24.625
16 Esteban Gutierrez 1:24.406 1:24.778
17 Jolyon Palmer 1:24.903
18 Felipe Massa 1:24.941
19 Marcus Ericsson 1:25.202
20 Felipe Nasr 1:25.579
21 Pascal Wehrlein 1:25.745
22 Rio Haryanto 1:25.939