Lewis Hamilton has put himself one step closer to claiming his fourth Grand Prix victory on the trot after beating Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton had been outpaced by Rosberg in both final practice and the preceding Q1 and Q2 phases, but he ultimately pulled it out of the bag with a sensational final lap to deny Rosberg. The Englishman clocked a rapid 1:25.232 lap-time on his final flying lap to beat his teammate by just 0.168 seconds. Daniel Ricciardo was best of the rest in third, although over a second off the pace.
Valtteri Bottas and Romain Grosjean defied expectations by completing the top five, as both underscored the improvements that Williams and Lotus have made over the three-week break.
While Bottas was joined in Q3 by teammate Felipe Massa (who qualified ninth-fastest), the same could not be said of Grosjean’s counterpart Pastor Maldonado, who threw away his prospects of a top-ten qualifying performance when he crashed out in Q1.
The Venezuelan continued his trend of racking up a hefty repair bill each weekend. This time he crashed out at an unusual spot, plucking the right-front wheel off his car on the inside of the exit of Turn 3 after running wide at the exit. The back end of the car became loose and spat him towards the wall to end his session.
Kimi Räikkönen outqualified Fernando Alonso for the second time this season as the steadily improving Ferraris qualified sixth and seventh-fastest, with Jenson Button right behind in eighth.
Sebastian Vettel failed to post a time in Q3, with his brand new RB10 chassis grinding to a halt on his Q3 out-lap with a gearbox failure. It prompted a brief red flag stoppage which reduced the final session to an eight-minute dash for pole.
Nico Hülkenberg was the fastest of the non-Q3 runners after being bumped out of tenth by Bottas; he was only one-tenth of a second slower than local hero Alonso, who was the slowest of the Q2 runners to scrape into the top-ten.
Hülkenberg’s teammate Sergio Pérez was right behind, with the Force India pairing leading Daniil Kvyat and Esteban Gutiérrez on the timesheets. Fellow Q2 runners Kevin Magnussen and Jean-Éric Vergne failed to post a time in Q2; the former suffered an ECU failure in his McLaren’s power unit, while the later was facing a mandatory ten-place grid penalty after losing a wheel in Friday practice.
While his heavily-revised Sauber might have been over 15kg lighter thanks to a series of updates, it still didn’t help Adrian Sutil to escape a Q1 elimintation. The German starts ahead of Marussia pairing Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi, with the Caterhams of Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi next up.
Sunday’s race, to be held over 66 laps, gets underway at 2:00pm local time (GMT +2). More to follow.
2014 Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||1:25.232||16|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||1:25.400||+ 0.168||19|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||1:26.285||+ 1.053||16|
|4.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||1:26.632||+ 1.400||17|
|5.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||1:26.960||+ 1.728||18|
|6.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||1:27.104||+ 1.872||18|
|7.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||1:27.140||+ 1.908||16|
|8.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||1:27.335||+ 2.103||18|
|9.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||1:27.402||+ 2.170||16|
|10.||Sebastian Vettel||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||no time||11|
|Q3 Cut-Off: 1:27.602||Time||Gap*||Laps|
|11||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||1:27.685||+ 1.597||13|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||1:28.002||+ 1.914||16|
|13.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||1:28.039||+ 1.951||12|
|14.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||1:28.280||+ 2.192||12|
|15.||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||no time||10|
|16.||Jean-Éric Vergne^||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||no time||6|
|Q2 Cut-Off: 1:28.472||Time||Gap**||Laps|
|17.||Adrian Sutil||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||1:28.563||+ 1.799||9|
|18.||Max Chilton||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||1:29.586||+ 2.822||6|
|19.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||1:30.177||+ 3.413||6|
|20.||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||1:30.312||+ 3.548||8|
|21.||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||1:30.375||+ 3.611||6|
|Outside 107% Cut-Off||Time||Gap**||Laps|
|DNQ.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||no time||2|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:26.088 by Nico Rosberg
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:26.764 by Nico Rosberg
^ Jean-Eric Vergne will serve a ten-place grid penalty for losing a wheel during Friday’s second Free Practice session
Image via Sutton Images