Latest News / Feature

Qualifying analysis - Mercedes versus Mercedes

10 May 2014

Tyre conservation is always the name of the game in Spain, and only Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso made two runs in Q3. The deterioration in track conditions since Friday didn’t help anyone, and several drivers struggled as a result with their set-ups. What was very quickly clear, however, was that only two men were ever in contention for pole. We take a team-by-team look at Barcelona qualifying…


Lewis Hamilton, 1m 25.232s, P1

Nico Rosberg, 1m 25.400s, P2

Hamilton was much less happy with his car than he had been while dominating FP1 and FP2, after minor changes had been made overnight. The change in track conditions worked against them and gave him massive oversteer and inconsistent behaviour between corners in both FP3 and in Q1 and Q2. But a huge effort in Q3 saw him get everything from the car and pull through to take his 35th career pole. Rosberg admitted that he was unhappy to be beaten again by his team mate, but said that he was pleased with his lap and that Hamilton had done the better job. All things being equal, and based on their race distance running yesterday, the Silver Arrows should be unbeatable again in the race.

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 26.285s, P3

Sebastian Vettel, No time, P10, will start P15

Red Bull had yet another bruising day. Ricciardo looked like he might challenge the Mercedes after the first runs in Q3 saw him within three-tenths of Hamilton and right behind Rosberg, but when the Mercs hit their stride on their second runs even an heroic reduction in lap time of another four-tenths from the Australian wasn’t enough to put the gap below a second. Vettel, meanwhile, didn’t even set a Q3 time as his RB10 lost second gear as he left the pit lane for his first run, then got stuck in fifth. The resultant gearbox change means he will take a five-place grid penalty.


Valtteri Bottas, 1m 26.632s, P4

Felipe Massa, 1m 27.402s, P9

Bottas hadn’t had the easiest time of it in FP2 or FP3, but it all came right for the talented Finn at the end of Q3 as he sprang up into fourth place. Changes made after FP3 had made a big difference to his confidence, and he got the job done when it mattered. Massa, meanwhile, admitted that he made a costly mistake under braking in Turn 10. Having been quick in FP3 and early on in qualifying, he was understandably very angry with himself.


Romain Grosjean, 1m 26.960s, P5

Pastor Maldonado, no time, P22

Everything finally came right for Grosjean as he punched in an excellent fifth fastest lap in the final part of Q3. It’s taken Lotus time to unlock the potential of their E22, but now it’s beginning to look pretty good. Unfortunately, Maldonado dropped his car yet again on his very first out lap, damaging the front suspension after colliding with the wall in Turn 3. It means the Venezuelan will again be starting from the back row.


Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 27.104s, P6

Fernando Alonso, 1m 27.140s, P7

Ferrari spoke of improvements of brake stability, turn-in and power delivery, but though the F14 T was better, especially where Raikkonen was concerned, it just wasn’t fast enough. That’s all there was to say for the troubled Scuderia.


Jenson Button, 1m 27.335s, P8

Kevin Magnussen, no Q2 time, P15, will start P14

McLaren showed signs of improvement all through the weekend, but after Button’s first intended Q3 run was stymied by the Vettel red flag he found that understeer negated the intended effect of changes made after FP3 and had to be content with eighth. That was nevertheless an improvement over China. Magnussen, meanwhile, didn’t run at all in Q2 because of an undisclosed problem with his Mercedes power unit.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 27.685s, P11, will start P10

Sergio Perez, 1m 28.002s, P12, will start P11

Force India struggled for grip for much of the time in short-run form but Hulkenberg said changes had been beneficial and believed he had done the best he could with the VJM07 as it was. Perez said preparation for a second lap in Q2 had been compromised by traffic. Both expect a very strategic race, and believe that harvesting an extra set of medium tyres could offset the failure to make the top 10.

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat, 1m 28.039s, P13, will start P12

Jean-Eric Vergne, no Q2 time, P16, will start P21

Toro Rosso reported that Kvyat did a terrific job on the hard Pirellis but that they didn’t optimise the STR9 around the medium tyre in Q2. After Vergne was given his 10-place grid penalty for the team’s error in not fitting his right-rear wheel properly in FP2, it was always the plan for the Frenchman to miss Q2 so that he could save a set of medium tyres ready for an aggressive race strategy.


Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 28.280s, P14, will start P13

Adrian Sutil, 1m 28.563s, P17, will start P16

Gutierrez thought he got the best out of his car, but said that it was still a handful under braking. Sutil said he had trouble getting temperature into the tyres in FP3 but that changes made the rubber overheat in Q1, from which he was thus unable to progress.


Max Chilton, 1m 29.586s, P18, will start P17

Jules Bianchi, 1m 30.177s, P19, will start P18

Chilton had one of his best qualifying performances thus far as he beat team mate Bianchi. The latter said he got out of shape under braking for Turn 10 on his best Q1 lap, which compromised his time and left him half a second slower.


Marcus Ericsson, 1m 30.312s, P20, will start P19

Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 30.375s, P21, will start P20

Both drivers found the CT05 an unpredictable handful all around the track as they struggled to tame it. Ericsson said he was pleased to out-qualify his team mate for the first time, but that was about the only good thing about his day. Kobayashi simply said that it was hard work qualifying 21st.