Qualifying analysis - Lotus about to break through? 23 Jun 2012
Red Bull and McLaren may have qualified on the front row in Spain, but both teams believe it could be their black and gold rivals who will pose the biggest threat come race day, despite Maldonados Williams separating Vettel and Hamilton from the two Lotus cars on the grid. We take a team-by-team look at the Saturday form in Valencia
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 38.086s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 40.395s, P19
Vettel did a brilliant job to equal the pole records of Jim Clark and Alain Prost - 33 - after changes to his car and new components flown in the previous night helped to tame it. Webber, however, had brake problems after a lap in FP3 and ran his three Q1 laps without KERS. Result: a lowly 19th place start position and a big race mountain to climb.
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 38.410s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 38.801s, P9
Hamilton said he was surprised that changes between FP3 and qualifying meant that he was able to qualify second, though Rosberg and Mercedes later protested that hed impeded them. The stewards disagreed. Button was only eight-tenths off Vettel and four off Hamilton, but that was sufficient to leave him only ninth. But that was better than he qualified in either Monaco or Canada, so reverting to Hamiltons set-up had clearly helped for the weekend.
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 38.475s, P3
Bruno Senna, 1m 39.207s, P14
Maldonado must like Spanish circuits. He couldnt quite hang on to the prime start position here after going fastest with minutes to go in Q3, but third is a very strong placing for the Spanish Grand Prix winner. Senna showed flashes of speed all day, but said the balance wasnt great and that he couldnt put all his best sector times together.
Romain Grosjean, 1m 38.505s, P4
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 38.513s, P5
Lotus finally got the track temperatures in which their E20 could fly, and Grosjean thought he got everything out of his that it had to offer. Raikkonen said he found some good things in the set-up in FP3 that made his car easier to drive in qualifying. Vettel and Red Bull have had the advantage in qualifying, but they and McLaren expect the biggest race threat to come from the black and gold cars.
Nico Rosberg, 1m 38.623s, P6
Michael Schumacher, 1m 38.770s, P12
Rosberg was most upset that Hamilton didnt get penalised for allegedly impeding him on his final run in Q3. But the stewards were adamant no action needed to be taken. Schumacher admitted that he just didnt get either of his two Q3 runs together, but still only missed the cut by 0.068s such was the incredible closeness of the times.
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 38.752s, P8
Paul di Resta, 1m 38.992s, P10
Hulkenberg was happy with a top-10 place, but it was understandable that there was an air of disappointment at Force India after both drivers had been very quick all day. The rise in temperature between FP3 and qualifying - 38 degrees to 45 - lost them a little grip, however. Di Resta looked a contender for a top-five position at one stage after being quickest for a while in Q2, but lost time with a locked wheel on his best lap in Q3. Nevertheless, this was the teams most convincing performance of the season.
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 38.741s, P7
Sergio Perez 1m 39.358s, P15
Sauber came away reasonably optimistic. Kobayashi said he got everything out of his C31 and was delighted to put three cars behind him after making the effort in Q3. Perez said his cars balance wasnt too predictable for qualifying, but that this was the result of changes intended to make it better for the race, so hes feeling quietly confident of charging.
Fernando Alonso, 1m 38.707s, P11
Felipe Massa, 1m 38.780s, P13
Luca di Montezemolos presence chez Ferrari raised pulses, but this was one of those days when the bear got to do the eating. Alonso and Massa were very evenly matched, and missed out on Q3 by the narrowest of margins. Hamilton, for one, however, believes the red cars will be a major threat in the race.
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 40.295s, P16
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 40.457s, P20
Caterham CEO Riad Asmats smile was bigger than he is after Kovalainen muscled into Q2 at Vergnes expense. The new undertray and front wing package has worked well all weekend and allowed the Finn to push through, while Petrov just missed out as Caterham reclaimed the position it had taken ahead of Toro Rosso yesterday.
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 40.358s, P17
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 40.203, P18
Major set-up changes put Toro Rosso back ahead of Caterham in FP3, but as the latter got their act together again in qualifying the roles were once again reversed. Both Ricciardo and Vergne said the STR7s just lacked general performance.
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 42.171s, P21
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 42.527s, P22
De la Rosa was again delighted with HRTs qualifying performance and to have pushed ahead of Marussia. Karthikeyan was closer to him today after some key set-up changes, and also felt that the team were moving in the right direction.
Charles Pic, 1m 42.675s, P23
Timo Glock, Did not run, may start P24
Pic upheld Marussia honour on his own, but couldnt better penultimate place. Glock didnt run because of his stomach upset, but the stewards have agreed he can start the race on Sunday subject to being passed fit.
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