Mark Webber took a dramatic pole position in qualifying for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix ahead of team mate Sebastian Vettel, with the next fastest car almost a second behind.
“Both of us have done thousands of kilometres around here, so it´s hard to get an advantage over him, plus he´s got a great record for pulling a lap out. Today I had to do something special to get him,” said Webber.
The pair have had many close battles on Saturday afternoons and there is rarely much to choose between them. Most of Webber’s slender advantage came in the final sector of the lap.
Lewis Hamilton gave McLaren its best qualifying of the season in third place, but the gap to Webber was almost a second, showing that Red Bull has not just improved along with the rest, but has actually pulled further ahead. Updates to the front and rear wings and to the floor and diffuser have given the car so much downforce that it looks like it is going around the circuit on rails.
Fernando Alonso was fourth for Ferrari ahead of Jenson Button with Michael Schumacher a season best sixth, beating his team mate Nico Rosberg for the first time this year. Robert Kubica did another excellent job in the Renault to get ahead of one of the Mercedes and one of the Ferraris, as Felipe Massa again suffered a bit of a slump with ninth place, some 7/10ths of a second slower than Alonso.
Qualifying 1 was dominated by Red Bull, with Webber 0.27s ahead of Vettel, while Rubens Barrichello joined the new teams in being eliminated. He blamed a combination of traffic and his engineer talking while he was trying to concentrate on his hot lap. It was quite a change from last year when he battled Jenson Button for the win here, only losing because the team switched his strategy, he said. Williams have brought quite a few updates this weekend and they don’t seem to have done much for the car. Barrichello said that the problem was poor correlation between the data from the wind tunnel and the track.
Meanwhile Lotus underlined the progress they have made with the updates on the cars. Jarno Trulli was only 1.5 seconds slower than Barrichello and 8/10ths of a second clear of the Virgin car.
In Qualifying 2 Webber again outshone Vettel, but the pair of them dipped into the 1m 20s while the pursuing pack were stuck in the 1m 21s. Kamui Kobayashi put in a stunning lap in the Sauber to grab 7th place at the time, bumping out a surprised Adrian Sutil. Meanwhile Michael Schumacher was 3/10ths faster than team mate Rosberg.
There are conflicting stories about the weather forecast for tomorrow with rain forecast by some. It rained heavily overnight so there is rain in the air, but today the track was its hottest of the weekend on a pretty perfect sunny day.
SPANISH GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:21.412 1:20.655 1:19.995
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:21.680 1:20.772 1:20.101
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.723 1:21.415 1:20.829
4. Alonso Ferrari 1:21.957 1:21.549 1:20.937
5. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.915 1:21.168 1:20.991
6. Schumacher Mercedes 1:22.528 1:21.557 1:21.294
7. Kubica Renault 1:22.488 1:21.599 1:21.353
8. Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.419 1:21.867 1:21.408
9. Massa Ferrari 1:22.564 1:21.841 1:21.585
10. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:22.577 1:21.725 1:21.984
11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:22.628 1:21.985
12. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:22.211 1:22.026
13. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:22.857 1:22.131
14. Petrov Renault 1:22.976 1:22.139
15. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.699 1:22.191
16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.593 1:22.207
17. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:23.084 1:22.854
18. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:23.125
19. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:24.674
20. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:24.748
21. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.475
22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.556
23. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:26.750
24. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:27.122