Mercedes driver claims fourth pole of season ahead of team-mate and Daniel Ricciardo as Vettel hits trouble.
Sat 10.05.14, 4:04PM
Lewis Hamilton edged a tight battle with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to claim his fourth pole position of the season.
“Nico has been driving really well, through P3 and through qualifying, so I didn’t know if I’d be able to get it, but right at the end I had to eke out absolutely everything and more from the car,” said Hamilton after claiming top spot in the dying seconds of the session.
Rosberg, who had topped the first two part of the qualifying hour, was understandably unhappy at losing out to his team-mate for the second race in a row.
“I’m definitely very disappointed. I don’t particularly enjoy coming second to Lewis,” he said. “In the end it was a good lap from me, so Lewis just did a better job and that’s the way it is. Anyway, it’s still all to play for tomorrow. Second place is only a little bit away from optimum because all it takes is a good start tomorrow and then I’m in the lead again.”
Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was best of the rest in third place, though team-mate Sebastian Vettel stopped on track in the final segment of the hour. Home here Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, could only manage seventh place behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in a disappointing session for Ferrari.
Q1 of the hour got off to a dramatic start when Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado crashed out within moments of the green lights coming on at the end of the pit lane.
The Venezuelan lost control of his car on the run to Turn Three and crashed heavily into the barriers, his Lotus sustaining much front-end damage. The session was quickly red-flagged as the recovery vehicles headed to the corner to remove the wreckage.
When action resumed Mercedes’ Rosberg set the early pace with a lap of 1:26.764 on the hard tyre. Team-mate Hamilton made an error on his first run but slotted into P2, 0.4s down on the German. The Briton was straight on the radio to the Mercedes pit wall, telling his team that “we've made the car worse, it's a nightmare to drive”.
By the end of the segment the pecking order had taken a relatively predicable shape with the Mercedes pair quickest ahead of Vettel and Ricciardo.
Behind them Massa was fifth ahead of Kvyat, with the soft-tyre shod Hulkenberg and Vergne eighth and ninth. McLaren’s Jenson Button took the final top-10 spot.
At the other end, along with Maldonado, out went the Caterhams of Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson, the Marussias of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton and the Sauber of Adrian Sutil.
In the second segment, Rosberg again the set the pace, rising to the top of the timesheet with a time of 1:26.088. Hamilton was again unable to match the German in the first runs, posting a lap just over a tenth adrift of his team-mate. Behind then the Red Bulls again slotted into third and fourth, though Ricciardo was this time in front. The Australian’s lap was deemed good enough to ensure a Q3 berth and he chose to sit out the final runs, as did Vettel.
Theirs was absence by choice, but elsewhere Kevin Magnussen abandoned the session while in P15, as did Jean-Eric Vergne in P16.
In the battle for the remaining Q3 places, Massa finished fourth to push Vettel to fifth, with Romain Grosjean sixth for Lotus. Kimi Raikkonen was seventh for Ferrari, ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, Button and an out-of-sorts looking Alonso who just managed to scrape into the top-10 shoot-out eight hundredths of a second ahead of Nico Hulkenberg.
As with Q1, the final segment got off to as stuttering start. Sebastian Vettel left the Red Bull Racing garage but slowed in the pit lane. Whatever issue he had seemed to right itself and he headed out on track only to stop at Turn 3, all drive lost on his RB10.
The stoppage brought out the red flags and when the session resumed Q3 seemed set for Rosberg to press home the advantage he had enjoyed in the opening segments.
It didn’t go according to plan however. Hamilton edged the German on the duo’s first run but Rosberg responded and as he crossed the line on his final tour, he jumped eight tenths of a second ahead of Hamilton’s benchmark. The Briton was just coming to the end of his final flying lap, however, and when he corssed the line he’d somehow found almost a second over his opening Q3 time, to claim his 35th career pole.
Behind the Mercedes, Daniel Ricciardo claimed his third top-three start of the season but admitted that while he had been pleased with his lap the one-second gap to the front row cars was a surprise.
“We’re again best of the rest but that’s not quite good enough, we’re still a second off,” he said. “I thought my lap was not too bad, so I was expecting a smaller gap than that. I think we’ve made some improvements but they – they being Mercedes – have as well. On a positive note we’re a clear third today. I think we had a pretty to P4, so that’s not too bad, but for sure we want to get closer to the front two.”
That fourth spot on the grid will be occupied by Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, while Romain Grosjean enjoyed a much improved outing for Lotus with fifth spot. The Ferraris of Raikkonen and Alonso will line up sixth and seventh and the remaining top-10 places were taken by Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and the unfortunate Vettel.
2014 Spanish Grand Prix – Qualifying Result
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.238 1:26.210 1:25.232 16
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.764 1:26.088 1:25.400 19
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:28.053 1:26.613 1:26.285 16
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:28.198 1:27.563 1:26.632 17
5 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:28.472 1:27.258 1:26.960 18
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:28.308 1:27.335 1:27.104 18
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:28.329 1:27.602 1:27.140 16
8 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:28.279 1:27.570 1:27.335 18
9 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:28.061 1:27.016 1:27.402 16
10 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:27.958 1:27.052 No time 11
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:28.155 1:27.685 13
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1:28.469 1:28.002 16
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:28.074 1:28.039 12
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:28.374 1:28.280 12
15 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:28.389 No time 10
16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:28.194 No time 6
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:28.563 9
18 Max Chilton Marussia 1:29.586 6
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:30.177 6
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:30.312 8
21 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:30.375 6
22 Pastor Maldonado Lotus No time 2