Barcelona Qualifying: Rosberg trumps Hamilton | GRAND PRIX 247
BARCELONA QUALIFYING: ROSBERG TRUMPS HAMILTON
Nico Rosberg delivered one of his best qualifying performances ever to claim pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix, trumping his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the process and with it putting the Formula 1 championship leader on the back foot for the first time this season.
Rosberg signalled his intent by topping the timing sheets in the morning FP3 session, and a few hours later dug deep to blitz around the Circuit de Catalunya in a pole winning lap time of 1:24.681 – a quarter second up on Hamilton, who had to settle for second best in qualifying for the first time this season.
For Rosberg it was crucial that he started the European campaign attacking, and on the day he did just that on his way to his 16th career pole position.
In Q2 he showed his hand by going top of the timing screens, then followed that up with a scorching first lap in Q3 which in the end was enough to claim top spot on the grid.
Rosberg summed up his afternoon, “Of course I needed it [pole position] sooner rather than later. It is one step in the right direction to winning the race. It was a good day in the office.”
And added, “Strategy is important. It’s a big advantage to have new set of used tyres for the race. Overtaking is more difficult around here, so starting in front is a big advantage.”
Hamilton admitted that he simply had no answer to his teammate, the Briton was 0.267 of a second off the top time with his first attempt. His second attempt was also short.
“Nico did a great job. I didn’t have the balance where I liked. [In the race] there’s still a lot to play for,” said Hamilton. “I didn’t think I was on the back foot, I just didn’t have pace and didn’t do a great job.”
Once again Mercedes were in another class, ominously on the hard tyres in Q1 the Silver Arrows were about 1.5 seconds quicker than the next best which was Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari.
The quadruple world champion was three quarters of a second down (on the softer tyres) when the chequered flag dropped to end qualifying, nevertheless he had done enough to claim third on the grid but well short of challenging the Mercedes duo.
Vettel said, “I think it is great for Ferrari to keep confirming how close we are. This is a great race for us it is very nearly a home race for us.”
“You have to say the two guys sat at the side of me [Rosberg and Hamilton] are doing a good job, hopefully tomorrow we can be closer than today but they are doing a good job,” added the Ferrari driver.
Kimi Raikkonen who has been out of sorts all weekend, ended nearly a second down on Vettel, which was only good for seventh.
Valterri Bottas was fourth in the Williams, suggesting a turn around in fortunes for the Grove outfit who have under-delivered on expectations, but Felipe Massa was over a second slower than his teammate and ended the session in ninth.
Stars of the qualifying show in Barcelona have to be the Toro Rosso rookies, with Carlos Sainz fifth quickest, and his teenage teammate Max Verstappen sixth, both out-qualifying their Red Bull ‘big brothers’ in the process. Daniil Kvyat was eighth and Daniel Ricciardo tenth.
Lotus pair of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were just out of the top ten and will share row six on the grid for the race.
A massive McLaren renaissance did not happen in Barcelona, but they did both make it beyond Q3 for the first time with both cars, their two world champions, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, were 13th and 14th respectively.
It was a depressing outcome for Force India on the day as both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez failed to make it beyond Q1.
In closing it is noteworthy that since the first race at Circuit de Catalunya in 1991, 92% of the 24 races at the circuit have been won from the front row, with 18 of those wins from pole and four from second place on the grid.
Statistics favour Rosberg and pole position gives him the upper-hand, now he has to do the business and bring it home first in the race. Anything less will be a blow to his title aspirations and will dash his hopes of seriously challenging Hamilton for the biggest prize in motorsport
Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying – Saturday, 9 May 2015
Pos. No. Driver Team Time Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.681s 18
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:24.948s 17
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:25.458s 15
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:25.694s 16
5 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:26.136s 17
6 33 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:26.249s 20
7 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:26.414s 16
8 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:26.629s 16
9 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:26.757s 16
10 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:26.770s 16
11 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:27.375s 13
12 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:27.450s 13
13 14 Fernando Alonso Mclaren 1:27.760s 11
14 22 Jenson Button Mclaren 1:27.854s 12
15 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:28.005s 14
16 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:28.112s 6
17 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:28.365s 6
18 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:28.442s 7
19 28 Will Stevens Marussia 1:31.200s 6
20 98 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1:32.038s 4
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