Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying: Rosberg breaks Hamilton’s perfect run

Nico Rosberg takes pole in Spain, Kettle Mag
Written by F1_Charlie

Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix from pole position in what was the team’s sixteenth consecutive pole position, breaking Lewis Hamilton’s perfect run so far in qualifying this season. 

Much to no one’s surprise it was the Mercedes pair that led the session from the outset on the prime tyres. Hamilton went into the session on the back foot, team-mate Rosberg having led FP1 and FP3, Hamilton spinning his Mercedes with a rare mistake.

The option softer tyre looks to me a much better race tyre meaning the teams tried to get through the first session by spending as little time on the options as they could. In the closing stages already fastest Hamilton set the timing screen alight with a time that was almost a full second faster than anyone on a new set of primes. 

The track was a flurry of activity with drivers towards the bottom of the time sheets improving. It looked as if Daniil Kvyat could be taking an early exit, however, he managed to improve his time. Roberto Merhi, Will Stevens, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were not as lucky as the Red Bull and all failed to jump the first hurdle.

With Barcelona being a track that is limited when it comes to overtaking, the cars at the back of the field could be in for a long afternoon tomorrow.

Preserving the tyres will be key tomorrow. With the teams in Q2 having to use the same tyres at the start of the race, if that driver progresses through into Q3 they will have to start the race on that same set of tyres.

From the outset of Q2, Hamilton was told over the radio “we need a nice clean lap” meaning “look after these tyres we need them.” Hamilton seemed to take that message on board and slipped into 2nd place, 0.4 of a second faster than 3rd place man Kimi Raikkonen. After Hamilton set his time it was Rosberg’s turn to put his effort in and was just over half a second faster than Hamilton with a time of 1:25.166s.  

Both Mercedes, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Raikkonen and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas all stayed in the garage as the rest of the grid jostled for positions. Fernando Alonso was the first driver to attempt to make it out of the drop zone, but his effort was not enough to make Q3. Pastor Maldonado in the Lotus was beaten by team-mate Romain Grosjean who will line up tomorrow on the sixth row of the grid. Alonso and Jenson Button share row seven tomorrow in the new look McLaren in front of the Sauber of Felipe Nasr. Grosjean complained of losing the front end and failed to make it into the top ten shootout for the first time this season.

Bottwas was the first driver to set a time in the final round of qualifying. Hamilton’s first effort was one second faster than the time set by the Williams. His time at the top did not last long as Rosberg toppled Hamilton with his effort of a 1:24.681s, 0.267s faster than Hamilton who has been on fine form on Saturday afternoon’s all season.

Hamilton was still not happy with his set up and for this final run the defending champion asked for a change of his front wing angle in an attempt to find the quarter of a second that Rosberg had.

Carlos Sainz, Felipe Massa and the Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Kvyat opted for just one run in the final session. 

Raikkonen before his final effort started his lap in fifth place, the Finn opting for just one run on a new set of tyres. Whilst he improved his time it was only good enough to stay fifth until Carlos Sainz set a blistering time to confirm his best ever qualifying performance with Max Verstappen in 6th place. Whilst Rosberg did not improve on his first effort, it was still fast enough to beat Hamilton in what was a fascinating qualiying session.

1Nico RosbergMercedes
2Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3Sebastian VettelFerrari
4Valtteri BottasWilliams Mercedes
5Carlos SainzSTR Renault
6Max VerstappenSTR Renault
7Kimi RaikkonenFerrari
8Daniil KvyatRed Bull Renault
9Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes
10Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Renault
11Romain GrosjeanLotus Mercedes
12Pastor MaldonadoLotus Mercedes
13Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda
14Jenson ButtonMcLaren Honda
15Felipe NasrSauber Ferrari
16Mrcus EricssonSauber Ferrari
17Nico HulkenbergForce India Mercedes
18Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes
19Will StevensMarussia Ferrari
20Roberto Merhi Marussia Ferrari