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Qualifying analysis - will Mercedes carry their form into the race? 11 May 2013

Pole sitter Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with team mate Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138 leads Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F138 down the pitlane.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013

Tyre conservation is still the name of the game in Spain, and on Saturday many drivers were mindful of the need to save rubber for the race. Thus while Mercedes’ polesitter Nico Rosberg and the Ferrari and Lotus drivers made two Q3 runs, Lewis Hamilton, the Red Bull drivers, Sergio Perez and Paul di Resta made do with only one. We take a team-by-team look at the Barcelona qualifying action and what it means for the Grand Prix on Sunday…

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 20.718s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 20.972s, P2

Rosberg had everything together very nicely to take his second consecutive pole, while Hamilton admitted that he was a bit lost on set-up all weekend and that he’d left his W04 the same as it was in FP3. He said that Nico was just quicker, and that was all there was to it, but he did his time in only one run whereas Rosberg did two. Both admitted to being cautious about their prospects after what happened in Bahrain, but Mercedes believe that changes in set-up since then have helped their tyre wear. We’ll see.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 21.054s, P3
Mark Webber, 1m 21.570s, P8, will start P7

Vettel said he was happy enough with his lap and clearly expects to be in a good position in the race if (perhaps he’s thinking when) the Mercedes start to eat their tyres. Webber said he just lost grip in Q3, especially in the final sector, and couldn’t understand why. He qualified eighth but rises a place as Felipe Massa was given a three-place grid drop for impeding him during Q2.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 21.177s, P4
Romain Grosjean, 1m 21.308s, P7, will start P6

Lotus are perhaps the dark horses for Sunday’s race, especially when Raikkonen was extremely quick in Q1 on the hard tyre. The Finn said he got everything out of the E21, while Grosjean admitted that a big slide cost him time and places in Q3. The black and gold car uses its rubber extremely well, so there’s a lot of confidence in the Lotus camp.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 21.218s, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 21.219s, P6, will start P9

Once again Alonso and Massa were extremely closely matched. The Spaniard said fifth was pretty much what he expected, and that much will depend on how good a start he gets. Massa was unhappy with his time after being fastest in FP3, and blamed understeer. He was unhappier still with his grid penalty, because he figured Webber had been on worn tyres and that he hadn’t affected his lap much.

McLaren
Sergio Perez, 1m 22.069s, P9, will start P8
Jenson Button, 1m 22.355s, P14

McLaren’s day began to unravel early. Their aggressive new front wings arrived, by plane and van, by the early morning, but there wasn’t time for the FIA to scrutineer them so after all that racer’s effort they couldn’t use them. With 14th and 15th places in Q1 they were a bit close to the edge, but Perez pulled a blinder to make it through to Q3 and then qualified a respectable ninth (becoming eighth after Massa’s penalty). Button, by contrast, struggled badly for grip in Q2 and failed to make it. The team suspect that the tyre pressures were set too high.

Force India
Paul di Resta, 1m 22.233s, P10
Adrian Sutil, 1m 22.346s, P13

Once again Di Resta had the upper hand over Sutil. The Scot was happy to get into Q3 but said he lost a bit of time by not being able to optimise the final sector prior to his quick lap. Sutil said he was in a compromised position in traffic on his better run in Q2, hence his failure to get through.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 22.127s, P11
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 22.166s, P12

Both drivers believe they have taken a step forward with the latest specification on the STR8, and while Ricciardo was very happy to have caught up and passed his team mate, Vergne believes he will have a good advantage in the race in a car better set-up for that than for qualifying.

Sauber
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 22.389s, P15
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 22.793s, P16, will start P19

For a moment the Saubers looked genuinely quick, but it transpired that despite the improvement wrought by the latest upgrade they still lacked speed. Then, to rub salt into the wound, Gutierrez got a three-place grid penalty for impeding Raikkonen at the end of Q1.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 23.260s, P17, will start P16
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 23.318s, P18, will start P17

After last year’s brilliant performance here it was crushing for Williams to fail to make it through Q1. Both drivers reported that the FW35 simply lacked grip, despite its upgrade.

Caterham
Giedo van der Garde, 1m 24.661s, P19, will start P18
Charles Pic, 1m 25.070s, P22

There were some tense moments towards the end of Q1 when Marussia had moved back ahead of Caterham, but in the closing seconds Van der Garde banged in a lap that displaced them. Despite Kovalainen pronouncing yesterday that the heavily revised CT03 is much better balanced, Pic struggled to achieve that state in FP3 and qualifying and thus lined up last.

Marussia
Jules Bianchi, 1m 24.713s, P20
Max Chilton, 1m 24.996s, P21

Marussia’s development paid off in the form of enhanced grip, which closed the gap that Caterham had opened in Bahrain. But neither Bianchi nor Chilton were happy with the balance of the MR02s as they took 20th and 21st places.

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