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Qualifying analysis - the balance of power swings at Mercedes

09 May 2015

Having narrowly missed pole on a couple of occasions this season, Nico Rosberg was delighted to take P1 on Saturday from team mate Lewis Hamilton - but not everyone had such a productive time of things under Barcelona’s clear blue skies. We take a team-by-team look at day two in Spain…

Nico Rosberg, 1m 24.681s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 24.948s, P2

Hamilton set the pace in Q1, but thereafter the ball was in Rosberg’s court and he looked as smooth and fast as he did at his best in 2014 on his way to his first pole of 2015. This time Hamilton had no answer, spoke of understeer, and had to settle for second, 0.267s behind. But the Silver Arrows look in very good shape for tomorrow, and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel admitted that realistically they are going to be very hard to beat.

Sebastian Vettel, 1m 25.458s, P3
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 26.414s, P7

Ferrari were so confused by the way in which some of their updates behaved yesterday, through a mix of weather conditions and set-up, that they ran Vettel with the new configuration and Raikkonen with the old. The German admitted that he didn’t have the pace of the Mercedes, while putting on a brave face at that disappointment, but hopes to have better speed in the race. The Finn said he struggled all weekend for grip, and just to rub salt into the wound he lost a set of medium tyres when a warming blanket caught fire.

Valtteri Bottas, 1m 25.694, P4
Felipe Massa, 1m 26.757s, P9

Bottas looked good all through qualifying and the team were very happy when he split the Ferraris early on. Massa had to use two sets of mediums to get through to Q3, which meant just a single run in the top-ten shootout. On that the Brazilian made a mistake at Turn 3, which cost him valuable time.

Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz, 1m 26.136s, P5
Max Verstappen, 1m 26.249s, P6

Toro Rosso had a fantastic afternoon, as local hero Sainz and fellow rookie Verstappen annexed the third row of the grid. The Spaniard said he’d struggled for balance in FP3, but that by Q1 the car was exactly as he wanted it, and he was able to deliver. The Dutchman had exactly the opposite, being happy in the morning but slightly less so in qualifying. Nevertheless, they both have a solid chance of scoring good points tomorrow.

Red Bull
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 26.629s, P8
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 26.770s, P10

Both drivers were deeply disappointed with their places, believing they should have been a fair bit higher. The RB11s looked good in the first two sectors, but lost out heavily on straight-line speed in the third despite this weekend’s modifications to Renault’s power unit.

Romain Grosjean, 1m 27.375s, P11
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 27.450s, P12

After their problems yesterday, Lotus were content enough to progress to 11th and 12th places in Q2 after vaulting past the McLarens. Grosjean said he is happy to start from the inside of row six on the clean side and with free tyre choice, while Maldonado said that focusing more on the race than single-lap qualifying should pay dividends when it counts.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 27.760s, P13
Jenson Button, 1m 27.854s, P14

McLaren got both cars through to Q2, but when Alonso had a “wobble” at Turn 8 on his final lap he lost his very slim chance of making Q3. Button, meanwhile, had a brake problem that made his car pull to the left in his first run in Q2, but was able to improve on his second though not sufficiently to progress. The MP4-30 has decent race pace, however, so there are hopes in the camp of some first points in 2015.

Felipe Nasr, 1m 28.005s, P15
Marcus Ericsson, 1m 28.112s, P16

Sauber had hoped to be a little further up the order, but in the end both Nasr and Ericsson were frustrated in their efforts to progress into Q2. Both drivers were hampered by overheating rear tyres, Nasr possibly as a result of being too aggressive in his approach.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 28.365s, P17
Sergio Perez, 1m 28.442s, P18

Hulkenberg and Perez were resigned to the VJM08’s lack of downforce and balance - key factors at Barcelona. But after the German’s long run pace left him fourth fastest yesterday they go into race hoping for a chance of points.

Will Stevens, 1m 31.200s, P19
Roberto Merhi, 1m 32.038s, P20

Stevens said he was happy with the way his Q1 went apart from a small mistake, but Merhi’s attempts to go quicker were hampered by a mandatory weight check and then an ERS alarm. Still, the Spaniard is determined to enjoy his home event.