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Qualy: Rosberg secures Merc's hat-trick

Saturday 11th May 2013

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Qualy: Rosberg secures Merc's hat-trick

Qualy: Rosberg secures Merc's hat-trick

Nico Rosberg clinched Mercedes' third successive pole position when he edged out team-mate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Spanish GP.

The German driver put in a sublime 1:20.718 to put clear of Hamilton and a long way clear of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen had to settle for third and fourth.who

Fernando Alonso was fifth in front of his home crowd, 0.001 quicker than team-mate Felipe Massa who ended qualifying under investigation for badly blocking Mark Webber in Q2.

Qualifying 1
There was the predictable strong wind blowing across the Circuit de Catalunya as qualifying got underway in bright sunshine with the ambient temperature at 20C and the track at 36C.

Ferrari were absorbing the blow of losing technical director Pat Fry to hospital suffering with a kidney stone.

After a delay of four minutes, while drivers ambled round their garages, Daniel Ricciardo set the first P1 time with a 1:24.100, bettered by Nico Hulkenberg with a 1:23.760 and then Jean-Eric Vergne with a 1:23.467 - all set on the harder tyre.

Kimi Raikkonen lowered the fastest to a 1:23.087 with Romain Grosjean slotting into P2. Then Fernando Alonso gave the home fans what they wanted by sticking his Ferrari on top of the timesheets with a 1:22.264, team-mate Massa slotting into P2 behind him.

With five minutes of the session left to run neither car from Mercedes, Red Bull or McLaren had posted a time, but that soon changed with Nico Rosberg establishing himself on top with a time on medium tyres, a 1:21.913. Vettel could only make P2 behind him, again on the mediums. Lewis Hamilton then jumped to the top of the order with a 1:21.728.

Running into the last four minutes of the session the danger positions were: 15.Bottas, 16.Hulkenberg, 17.Maldonado, 18.Gutierrez, 19.Pic, 20.Chilton, 21.Van der Garde, 22.Bianchi

Unusually Max Chilton was mastering the conditions much better than his vaunted Marussia team-mate Jules Bianchi. Gutierrez improved to P14 but looked to have blocked Raikkonen in Kimi's attempt to improve. Hulkenberg jumped up to P9 and then Di Resta - who had edged towards the drop zone - moved up to P7.

Bianchi improved to P19 in the Caterham vs Marussia battle but then Van der Garde jumped ahead of him right at the close to take P19.

So out went: 17.Bottas, 18.Maldonado, 19.Van der Garde, 20.Bianchi, 21.Chilton, 22.Pic.

It had been a complete contrast to the race of 2012 which Maldonado had won for Williams and represented their worst qualifying for probably a decade. At the end of the session McLaren hadn't been that far away from the drop in P14 and P15.

Qualifying 2
While the stewards reviewed the tapes of Gutierrez's blocking, he went out and set the first P1 time, a very respectable 1:22.910 which was only bettered by team-mate Hulkenberg by a couple of tenths, a 1:22.708.

Raikkonen was a second quicker putting in a 1:21.676 which meant he wouldn't have to run again in Q2. Alonso edged in front of him with a 1:21.646.

Mark Webber is often quicker than Vettel in Barcelona but on his first timed run he was badly blocked by Felipe Massa who was duly put under investigation by the stewards. Webber didn't help his own cause by trying to pull the DRS paddle open before the activation point, thus rendering it inoperable in that section.

With four minutes to go the danger positions were: 7.Hamilton, 8.Vettel, 9.Gutierrez, 10.Webber, 11.Vergne, 12.Perez, 13.DiResta, 14.Sutil, 15.Button, 16.Ricciardo. Neither Red Bulls had run on fresh medium tyres yet.

As the drivers came out for the final charge, the top five stayed in the garage. Vettel was out earlier than most and delivered a P1 time of 1:21.602, Webber made himself safe in P4, DiResta jumped up to P8, Daniel Ricciardo took P9 (which pushed Lewis Hamilton down to P11) and Toro Rosso team-mate Vergne took P10. Sutil came up short in P11.

Lewis Hamilton (now in P13) then delivered the most astonishing lap of the weekend so far a 1:21.001 six tenths faster than anyone else. The under-pressure McLaren team had something to cheer about with a P7 for Perez, but despite a lap with no mistake Jenson Button could only manage P14.

So out went: 11.Ricciardo, 12.Vergne, 13.Sutil, 14.Button, 15.Hulkenberg, 16.Gutierrez.

Button was convinced there was something up with his tyre pressures but it was the first time he had been outqualified by team-mate Perez.

Qualifying 3
Kimi Raikkonen was out first and set provisional pole at 1:21.539, Nico Rosberg absolutely decimated it with a 1:20.824 - straight away Fernando Alonso's hopes of a front row start looked unlikely with the Spaniard's best time so far 0.8 seconds back.

He could only manage P2, with Romain Grosjean passing Raikkonen for P3 and then Massa claiming P3. These five cars were the only ones running twice. So after the first runs it was: Rosberg, Alonso, Massa, Grosjean, Raikkonen.

Paul Di Resta came out but didn't set a time and came back into the garage.

Into the final two minutes and Vettel made his pole attempt early - he could only make P2. Kimi Raikkonen followed him over the line to leapfrog team-mate Grosjean and Alonso for P3. Nico Rosberg then edged further clear with a 1:20.718 - Lewis Hamilton had one rule for pole and could only manage P2.

Alonso's late charge reinforced him in P5, although team-mate Massa was just 0.001 slower in P6. Mark Webber could only manage an underwhelming P8 which left Perez in P9 and Di Resta - who at least attempted a fast lap - in P10.

It had been the first time since 2009 (and the Brawn team) that there was a single team on the front row for the Spanish Grand Prix but neither Rosberg or Hamilton were thinking they would convert their positions into a race win, despite the record of front row wins for the last 16 years.

FH

Times
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:20.718
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.972s + 0.254
03 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:21.054s + 0.336
04 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:21.177s + 0.459
05 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:21.218s + 0.500
06 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:21.219s + 0.501
07 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:21.308s + 0.590
08 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:21.570s + 0.852
09 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:22.069s + 1.351
10 Paul di Resta Force India 1:22.233s + 1.515
11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:22.127s
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:22.166s
13 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:22.346s
14 Jenson Button McLaren 1:23.166s
15 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:22.389s
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:22.793s
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:23.260s
18 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:23.318s
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:24.661s
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:24.713s
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:4.996s
22 Charles Pic Caterham 1:25.070s

Vettel's Maiden Ferrari Run

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