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Rosberg Heads All Mercedes Front-Row In Spain: Vettel, Raikkonen, Alonso in the hunt
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  11 May 2013   |  3:39 pm GMT  |  261 comments

Nico Rosberg made it a hat-trick of pole positions for Mercedes GP as he produced two laps fast enough to take the top spot for the Spanish Grand Prix, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

After concentrating on longer fuel-laden runs in Free Practice, Mercedes went in to qualifying somewhat unknown as attentions were focused on Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus. But – as with at China and Bahrain – the one-lap specialist Mercedes was able to eclipse its competitors. Rosberg clinched the third pole position of his career by over 2/10ths of a second, with Vettel a further tenth behind.

Their pace came predominantly in the slow, technical, final sector where the pair were around 3/10ths faster than those behind. And after heading the field in both Q1 and Q2 with Hamilton they were able to clinch their first front-row lock out since their return to Formula One and put themselves in with a chance of victory tomorrow.

In the twenty-two years that the Catalunya circuit has hosted the Spanish GP, only once has the winner come from beyond the front-row. This will give some confidence to the Silver Arrows – but we can still expect to see the fight for victory take place between the Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus trio.

Rosberg showed particular confidence getting through into Q3 using a set of used tyres, while Hamilton was forced to use a new set, which meant he had one set less of mediums for the final runs.

Red Bull went for a strategic plan in qualifying, saving its new sets of the hard tyre for the race tomorrow, indicating that they will do three stints on hard tyre after the opening stint on the used medium tyres they used for qualifying. Webber had the edge on Vettel in morning practice but the pace eluded him on his final run and he ended up 8th.

Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen fulfilled his objective by getting on the second row of the grid. With Mercedes in this kind of form that was the best he could manage, but the Lotus had the standout long runs on Friday and Raikkonen will fancy his chances of winning tomorrow, by running longer stints than the Mercedes or Vettel. Starting on the dirty side of the grid, however, he will have one eye on Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who has made sensational starts here in the past and will be looking for another tomorrow from fifth.

As Mercedes took to the top from the outset of qualifying, Ferrari or Lotus never seemed capable of challenging for the front-row but instead concentrated on giving themselves the best opportunity ahead of tomorrow.

Alonso is to be joined on the third row by Felipe Massa, should he not be penalised for what seemed to be a block on Mark Webber, which the stewards decided should attract a three pace grid penalty, dropping him to 9th. Massa clearly impeded Webber while not on a hot lap. Massa could not replicate his pace from the final Free Practice session and ended the day half a second away from the ultimate pace. Also penalised was Esteban Gutierrez, who drops three places to 19th.

Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber were beaten by their respective team mates and will begin the race on the fourth row. Webber was left frustrated by Massa’s actions in Q2 and may see himself gain a position should the FIA deem the Brazilian’s actions unnecessary.

Completing the top ten are strong performances by Sergio Perez and Paul Di Resta. Perez was able to make it in to the final shoot out as the sole McLaren and therefore beat Jenson Button in qualifying for the first time this year.

After their spat in Bahrain, it was telling that Perez got the upper hand in the underperforming McLaren. Button was well beaten in Q2, as he accepted.

Di Resta got the better of team mate Adrian Sutil in their on-going team battle, the German only managing thirteenth.

Following last year’s victory, the Williams team’s fall from grace was stark. Like McLaren a raft of updates seemed not to have helped them as both cars exited qualifying at the earliest stage, a humiliation for a team like Williams. They have dropped in to the claws of Caterham and Marussia this season, and need points as soon as possible to avoid being mentioned in the same breath.

Of those teams,  Giedo van der Garde was the pacesetter using an impressive late lap to move his Caterham above the Marussia pairing and team mate Charles Pic. Max Chiton will be pleased to have ended up only 2/10ths of a second behind team mate Jules Bianchi.

SPANISH GRAND PRIX, Barcelona, Qualifying
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m20.718s
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m20.972s + 0.254s
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m21.054s + 0.336s
4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m21.177s + 0.459s
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.218s + 0.500s
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m21.219s + 0.501s
7. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m21.308s + 0.590s
8. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m21.570s + 0.852s
9. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m22.069s + 1.351s
10. Paul di Resta Force India 1m22.233s + 1.515s

11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m22.127s + 1.126s
12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m22.166s + 1.165s
13. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m22.346s + 1.345s
14. Jenson Button McLaren 1m23.166s + 2.165s
15. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m22.389s + 1.388s
16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m22.793s + 1.792s

17. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m23.260s + 1.532s
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m23.318s + 1.590s
19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m24.661s + 2.933s
20. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m24.713s + 2.985s
21. Max Chilton Marussia 1m24.996s + 3.268s
22. Charles Pic Caterham 1m25.070s + 3.342s

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261 Comments
  1. Sebee says:

    What just happened here?!

    1. Tealeaf says:

      Rosberg showing his winter testing form was true and that his raw pace on 1 lap at least is faster than Hamilton thats what happened.

      1. Sebee says:

        Is that all?

        On a track that they all know like the back of their hands? .3s? .5s?

    2. Val from montreal says:

      Rosberg showed who was the fastest : ))

      1. the truth says:

        i beg to differ, that car was designed around Rosberg, Hamilton never even sat in the car until January, the fact that Hamilton is pushing Rosberg in Rosberg’s car is testament to Hamiltons pace….Rosberg better be faster as he designed that car

      2. Tealeaf says:

        excuses are all coming out now, first he needed to get use to the car and system and now the car’s built around Rosberg??? you could even argue these Mercedes are built around Schumi rather than Rosberg, just admit it Nico is slightly faster, even though his race craft and race consistency needs improving.

      3. Formula Zero says:

        Not true, car was designed based on the lack of pace over the last 3 years. Schumacher had a big input over that time as well. Only the seat was designed around Rosberg, just like Hamilton. Hamilton is fast no doubt, but he had the luxury of starting his career in a fast car as well. Rosberg has always been a championship material or his talent is close to being one at least. He did not have a Red Bull, McLaren or Ferrari under him. That is why he has not been in the mix through out his career. Now finally he has got a half decent car to showcase his row pace. I back Nico over Lewis to be the quicker man in the same car at any team. Lewis & Nico paring is the best in current grid. Merc is working harder than any other team openly over the past few years to improve the car. Next season we will really find out who the faster driver is because Lewis will spend a long time to change things the way he wants. Hopefully Merc will fix their tyre issue by then. Based on your theory Webber should’ve been faster than Vettel & Massa should have been faster than Alonso! Absurd assumption

      4. Sebee says:

        Did an all Mercedes front row possibility even cross your mind last 3 weeks?

      5. Val from montreal says:

        Im all worried about Mercedes ! There 1 lap pace does’nt surprise me one bit to be honest Sebee … The Mercs are hot 1 week-end , cold the other … But i’d be surprise if they can keep that speed for an ENTIRE gp which will never happen in a million years …

      6. I will says:

        @val, last GP after quali you came out to spout your bile against Ham but hide yourself in to your hole after the race when Nico went backward and Ham did the opposit.
        You clearly have no class. Shame you call yourself F1 fan.
        Nico is a good driver and will be close throughout the year. Only at the end of the year we know who is the better. Till then please don’t embarrass yourself.
        Coming to the race, I think it will be a fascinating opening laps.

      7. Jf says:

        Easy down. Ros was the man today. Great run.

      8. Bring Back Murray says:

        + 1

        I’m getting pretty tired of this child-like Hamilton bashing in general whenever Rosberg goes a little bit faster. It’s unnecessary.

        They are both top quality professional drivers in a team that is up and coming. Should be cheering on the both of them!

      9. Tealeaf says:

        Well I guess Val doesn’t have to hide after this race, Rosberg has just been plain faster over 1 lap, in the race where was Hamilton??? I tell you what Hamilton is the 1 most overrated driver in history, Rosberg is nothing more than a ‘good’ driver and nowhere near world class, he was outclassed by Webber and even admitted Mark was too fast for him, also Schumi in his 40′s was often faster even last year, if Hamilton was in the Redbull this year Vettel would have embarrassed him, Nico has beaten Hamilton comprehensively, Mclaren backed the wrong man in 2007, they would have won another 2-3 titles if they didn’t hold Fernando back.

      10. Grant H says:

        We should not be surprised nico has pushed Lewis in these early races, lets be fair nico is in a car which is an evolution of the past 3 years, Lewis has had to come in adjust to a whole new car, handling, controls etc, I think we should wait until the 2nd half of the season before judging who’s quickest

      11. Dave P says:

        Yes, but anyone can set a car up just for qualifying and then be hopeless in the race, even a Caterham could set itself up for pole..

        So until Mercedes produce competent wins, there is no glory in pole…

      12. mhilgtx says:

        You are kind of right, but Caterham sadly lacks the downforce for pole.

      13. Grant says:

        Not getting pole, and then not winning is worse than getting pole, and then not winning… :D

        At least your pole tally goes into the history books… :D

      14. Bring Back Murray says:

        “even a Caterham could set itself up for pole..”

        By attaching a rocket to the back of it?

      15. KRB says:

        Maybe last year he did. Still 3-2 in quali for LH, where I’m sitting.

        Good job to Nico … hopefully he hasn’t geared the car towards quali over the race, as in Bahrain. Hopefully Merc are better with tire management this race, and hopefully they haven’t – as a team – overemphasised quali-pace over race-pace, relative to their competitors.

        I am extremely surprised to hear that the Merc’s were quickest in the 3rd sector … watching FP2, I thought they looked horrible through there, with lots of roll, and lots of opposite rear end hike.

      16. Ryan Eckford says:

        Maybe they had a lot of fuel onboard?

      17. Me says:

        How do they gear a car for qualifying?

    3. dean cassady says:

      Mercedes put heat into their tires very aggresively; so they come to an optimum temperature and performance range very quickly.
      The Mercedes is a fast car, but the same design performance characteristics which put the heat into the tires quickly, burns them out at a comparatively rapidity.
      Mercedes has two fast drivers; most people are aware of the capability of Hamilton, while Nico is seen by most as untested; though we see him now out qualify his esteemed team mate, and generally has been very, very close to Lewis in performance, overall. However, when Nico fils, it tends to look like a complete meltdown, of one kind or another. Puns aside, others who have been paying keen attention are likely to have the same uncertainty about Nico, that maybe he’s just a little bit soft.
      But he looked good today.
      Besides the Mercedes front row lockout, which isn’t actually too ‘out there’, the real question you must be asking (it is after all, quite vague), is:
      What happened to the red cars, and in particular, the crown prince, Fernando?
      And for that one, if you deduct the Mercedes (call it a bit of an anomoly), then you have our usual suspects, all in a row.
      Not surprising one bit!
      We’re set for a fascinating race between these three, and what if even only one of the Mercedes can put together a radical five stop strategy, and just keep pounding out the faster laps… fascinating stuff.
      Why to go Paul Di Resta.

      1. Wes Mantooth says:

        What happened to the red cars? Other than the double podium? You don’t win anything from qualifying.

    4. Dougel says:

      Hamilton is no faster than an aged Schumacher, that’s what happened. :0)

      1. Dave Deacon says:

        +1

      2. haha says:

        come on now…. are you seriously suggesting that Massa is faster than Alonso??? That is your logic. Qualifying is only 1 lap.

      3. mhilgtx says:

        Why do so many feel the need to bash other drivers in order to praise their favorites? Scratching my head at the hate for Hamilton who I like, and Nico who I also like. Hamilton is of course more seasoned in the limelight where Nico is really just getting a taste of it. Give Nico a bit to make his mistakes so he can learn from them.

        My fears Ferrari might have some hidden advantage over RBR due to the front tire limited-ness of the track may have appeared to be unfounded.

      4. Grant says:

        I guess that’s why the Team is all excited and geared up after Lewis’ arrival.

        The man for whom Schumacher was unceremoniously let go.

      5. Anish says:

        +100 to that, haha!

    5. Martin says:

      Presumably if all the technical commentators are right, the Mercedes works its tyres harder so in the slow final section with fresh tyres it gains a lot of time. The other factor could be ride control through the chicane – if the car can be tighter through the left turn and settle quickly then there the driver could be significantly earlier on the throttle exiting the chicane.

      It wouldn’t be a tyre temperature issue as the advantage is at the end of the lap.

      Either way, the odds of a Ferrari pole at Monaco look pretty slim.

      1. Brian Fantana says:

        As do the odds of a Mercedes victory in the principality. And slim may have just left town.

    6. olivier says:

      It does shed another light on Schumacher’s comeback, doesn’t it?!?

      Perhaps Rosberg is not that slow after all.

      1. JFK says:

        Exactly. Rosberg is no slouch. I think a Lot of people assumed Hamilton would dominate, same for schumi. Not so. Ham has not dominated any teammate yet. Schu sure did.

      2. JF says:

        Exactly. Rosberg is no slouch. I think a Lot of folk assumed Hamilton would dominate, same for, many assumed Schu would have him beat as well. . Not so. Ham has not dominated any teammate yet. Schu sure did.

  2. F*ckYeah says:

    So, did Mercedes work between races and here on long runs deliver a car capable of staying ahead here ?

    I guess we will see tomorrow…

    1. Formula Zero says:

      My guess is that they will still have tyre issue, but maybe not as much. Mercedes had lot more to gain performance wise compare to Red Bull, Lotus or Ferrari. And with the team that Ross Brawn gathered around him so far are capable of finding those performance gaps very efficiently. They will certainly perform better than they have in the past over 66 laps. I just don’t think performance gain will not be enough to win the grand prix. Having said that, during the practice, Lewis & Nico both managed a huge amount of milage (one and a half race distance at least) to test the tyres. That might give them the advantage over the other teams in the race & who knows, we might see Merc’s second win in this track.

    2. Brick Tamland says:

      Clearly NOT.

  3. Val from montreal says:

    Imagine if Schuey was in the W04 …

    Mercedes will fall back AGAIN tomorrow , Vettel will become the second driver, after Schumacher, to win this race from starting outside the front row …

    Alonso’s 2013 wdc title bid will be officially over as of tomorrow … Sorry to be the bearer of bad news .

    1. Jenks says:

      What are you apologizing for Val?

      That’s GREAT news!

      Cheers!

      ;)

    2. Thompson says:

      Lol…ha ha…if who was in the W04….lol, stop it!

    3. Angelina says:

      +1
      I hope u r right.
      Keeping fingers crossed!

    4. mhilgtx says:

      I don’t care what Vettel’s or Kimi’s lead is after tomorrow, Ferrari’s WCC and WDC bids will not be over after tomorrow. Now I think Alonso is a bit overrated but I don’t think anyone cannot say the guy is one of the top 3-4 drivers in the world. After all didn’t Seb come back last year?

    5. Scuderia McLaren says:

      +1

      Alonso is finished. Hamilton is not as fast as everyone thinks. Sure against Kovi and Butt he looks like a god. But that’s it.

      Schumi was not as slow as we think eh. Even the old schumi. Imagine if Schumi in his prime (1994-2000) was there. They wouldn’t know what hit them.

      1. cos says:

        Schumi may hve been fast and great but he was no Senna…would have loved to have seen them both in their prime going wheel to wheel.

        oh and lets not forget that flying Finn Mika Hakkinen…the only man Schumi openly respected/feared on the race track. Sure Schumi won more..but for me Mika was mile better…even to this day

      2. madmax says:

        When Schumacher had a car as good as Senna’s in 94 he was beating him. There wouldn’t be even any talk about who was the better between them if Schumacher had a fraction of Senna’s charisma and died on the track.

        Mika was certaintly more likeable but he was beaten in 2000 by Schumacher in a lesser car and nearly in 98 in a much lesser car.

      3. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

        Let me correct you, Alonso finished 1st. Otherwise, you were spot on.

      4. KRB says:

        SM, I’m hoping you weren’t truly agreeing with Val, but instead mischievously adding to the absurd arguments put forth.

        MadMelGibson, Schumi was using illegal traction and launch control in ’94, and used it to get an early lead in the championship that year. If Senna hadn’t died, he would’ve beaten Schumi to the title easily. And that in a Williams that was not the all-powerful supercar that it was the previous two years.

    6. j says:

      A Schumacher fan after he won his championships and now a Vettel fan. Talk about jumping on every bandwagon that goes past.

      Now that the Canadiens are out who’s your next bandwagon NHL team Val? How about Boston? They won the cup a couple of years ago. Or maybe last years winner LA is more your style.

      1. Val from montreal says:

        I dont follow hockey , even less the Montreal Canadians !

        Me a bandwagon jumper ? The only wagon im on is my Lexus …

    7. Simmo says:

      “Alonso’s 2013 wdc title bid will be officially over as of tomorrow”

      Seriously? Alonso has come 2nd, one off DNF, 1st, and 8th (because of a minor problem (which shouldn’t happen again)). He might not be doing brilliantly, but look at where he is compared to this time last year, and he missed by 3 points.

      And Vettel wasn’t doing amazingly this time last year either.

      It’s 19 race season – anything can happen.

    8. Elie says:

      Yeah Val I imagine it would be somewhere in the back Vernes Torro Rosso. :)

    9. Tim says:

      I hate to be a pedant, but your comment is not news. Bad or otherwise. It is merely a prediction (of how you hope the race will turn out).
      By the way, do you mind me asking which team/driver you support? I have been trying to work it out from your posts and cannot reach any firm conclusions.

      1. Larcxy says:

        I am seriously worried about some of you. F1 fans are getting more like football fans every day.

        Sad.

      2. Tim says:

        Whilst I am grateful for your concern, what exactly are you worried about ?

      3. Val from montreal says:

        I support Schumacher even after his 1st retirement and still do now after his 2nd retirement …

        I support Vettel because he’s the best driver out there and because he’s backed by Schumacher …

        And finally any other driver who finishes in front of Alonso !

    10. F12012 says:

      If you want to see Schuey just watch last years race

    11. JR says:

      You are a visionary man, please keep on predicting!

    12. Tim says:

      @Val
      Vettel will become the second driver, after Schumacher, to win this race from starting outside the front row …
      Alonso’s 2013 wdc title bid will be officially over as of tomorrow ….

      Hey Val, is it too late to ask for a refund on that crystal ball of yours? It doesn’t seem to be very good at predicting the future :-)

      1. Larcxy says:

        ROFL :)

    13. Ron Burgundy says:

      Hey Val, what was that about Alonso? I guess he didn’t get your message.

  4. madmax says:

    It’s a shame Rosberg has been underrated for so long just for the mere fact of not having a decent car under him.

    1. Mitchel says:

      +1.

      1. Thompson says:

        I’ve been saying for a long time Rosberg was held back because of the focus on Schumacher at the team over the past few seasons.

        Hamiltons input as helped produce a better balance on the car that Nico can work with ( you doubt that look at Mclaren now)

        What!?….you’ve never noticed me…o.k.

      2. Anish says:

        Hamilton has Zero (0), the number zero, just to make sure, in this car. So that theory is as bad as it gets. Rosberg and Schumacher were very evenly matched, as Schumacher upped his game all through the years. Hamilton will bounce back, once he settles more in the car.

      3. madmax says:

        If Lewis where a top engineer switching teams perhaps but to say he is why Mercedes have a better car and McLaren not is quite frankly bizarre.

    2. BoogWar says:

      Lewis posted a 1:21.0006 In Q2. Rosberg, in Q3, was 7 or 8/10ths off that time. Belie’ dat.

      1. Martin says:

        Rosberg reused his Q1 tyres in Q2. Hamilton tried the same thing and wasn’t quick enough, so set his Q2 time on new softs. Hence Rosberg had two runs in Q3 while Hamilton had 1. While Hamilton was fastest in Q1, he was possibly too fast to make the Mercedes tyre strategy work.

    3. Formula Zero says:

      Rosberg & Alonso are the most complete driver on the Grid. Rosberg manages his tyres better than Lewis & without any mechanical issues he will give Lewis big run for his money. In this blog I have been personally playing the drums for Rosberg over the past few years. Finally, he will show the world what he is capable of. The harmony between Lewis & Nico is incredible as well. Let’s hope Merc will keep Lewis behind Rosberg if the situation arises. The only thing that will cause issue is team order. Lets hope Merc can fight for the championship, if not this season, hopefully next season. And my money is on Nico to be the WDC if Merc can make that happen.

  5. Phil Glass says:

    Bravo! Bravo! saturday heroics and glory runs over for another weekend (getting a bit tedious). So, then, serious contenders on sunday are:
    Vettel
    Raikkonen
    Alonso

    Again.

    1. Nutboy says:

      Glory run??!!

      It’s qualifying. How do you do a glory run during qualifying.

      Some people

      1. j says:

        Some people seem to act like we are forcing them to watch F1 against their will. :)

      2. Phil Glass says:

        well, nutboy, you can be a one lap specialist who hits the heights on a saturday and on a sunday goes backwards because your car is not set up for, or is uncompetitive for, the race distance. That’s what is meant here, obviously. Are you with me?

        Rosberg may stay ahead for a lap or two, but will soon be fending off Massa, Webber, di Resta. For a while. Maybe Hamilton will fare a little better, but I doubt it. Usual suspects will prevail.

      3. Timmay says:

        Um 2 poles, 0 2nd or 1st places and no real sign theyll win tomorrow either. I think she is right

    2. Tim says:

      I’ll tell you one person who isn’t finding it tedious – Seb. He is finding it frustrating, to say the least. His body language/expression when checking the times on the monitor, at weigh in, after quali’ was none too pleased.

      1. Dom says:

        Don’t think Seb is too bothered about Merc…. he was checking Alonso’s sectors and Kimi’s.
        Now if Merc zap everyone with a win from pole, things will change, no doubt. But I think Phil is right – if your ultimate objective is pole on a saturday then a “glory run” is what it is :)

  6. Anne says:

    Is the pole all of a sudden irrelevant? It seems that Vettel, Raikkonen and Alonso didn´t care about it that much. They seem to be more concerned about tyres, pace and pit stop strategy than the pole.

    1. Anne says:

      More bad news for Ferrari. Massa has been penalized with 3 spots for blocking Webber. So he is starting in P9.

      Also Gutierrez was penalized for blocking almost everybody.

      1. MistressofSpeed says:

        I’m confused.
        Bahrain race – Webber / Roseberg plus one other incident: to be investigated after the race. We’re these investigated? Qualifying decisions have been noted and posted. Have I missed something James; or, was it a dream?

      2. KRB says:

        Webber was only given a reprimand and a fine for the collision with Rosberg.

        Speaking of which, the “penalty lap” idea that was shot down, is ok in my opinion, but better would be if tracks had a “penalty chicane” that an F1 car would take about 5 sec’s more to negotiate than where they would rejoin the track. So say a bit of track that would take 8 sec’s to go through, but where on the regular track, it would take 3 sec’s to go from penalty lane entrance to penalty lane exit.

        Then if you had a more serious infraction (but still not a drive-through), you could order a driver to take two trips through the penalty lane (for a total 10 sec penalty, approx). Give drivers 3 laps as per usual in which to take to the penalty lane.

    2. dean cassady says:

      Anne: very interesting question.
      If you consider the other side of the edge of more overtaking (via the rapidly becoming infamous DRS and Pirelli tires), is less importance of pole position.
      And I don’t think that there is any doubt that increased potentially for overtaking necessarily means less importance of pole position.
      Therefore, the more salient question is: is it too much?
      There still seems great advantage to being as close to the front as possible, for several reasons, but the most important being less potential for getting wiped out, by someone else, at the start and first several corners.

      I like the racing right now. Qualifying was way too important before, especially on tracks like the Circuit of Catalunya.

      So how do you like it this year (and last year?)

      1. Martin says:

        Hi Dean,

        I feel there are a few factors here. One is the Mercedes seems to be an entirely different philosophy to the other cars in terms of tyre management. Qualifying and any wet races will probably suit it, but at the moment it does not seem to be fast enough in the race. The Mercedes results colour the discussion.

        If we look at the other leading teams, Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari, we have still generally seen the importance of track position. Melbourne was determined by tyre management and Raikkonen passing Hamilton early in the race. Both Raikkonen and Alonso used better tyre performance to pass Vettel via different strategies.

        In Malaysia the race was a bit mixed up so Red Bull only had to race Mercedes.

        In China and Bahrain we had clearer demonstrations of the effect of field spread. The time spent getting around the mobile chicanes (Mercedes) was very difficult to make up. In both races it contributed to Raikkonen being out of touch with the winner.

        How I would describe it is that qualifying still buys you time in the race – the leader also gets clean air to run in, but there are more strategic options available to get passed other cars (a fast starting Trulli for example). In the Bridgestone days it tended to be about running a few laps longer than the car directly in front to jump him at the pit stop. Now there are options around stopping earlier or notably later to pass on the track.

        I like the racing this year too. While we are told the drivers are cruising to save the tyres, I don’t feel as though visually we are missing too much. The drivers still have to be accurate in their driving, and in the refueling /no passing years the drivers weren’t flat out – they were still managing tyres and brakes and fuel to optimise the overall race time.

        Cheers,
        Martin

    3. Steve C says:

      You are right. The whole of qualifying seems irrelevant now because of this obsession of “saving tyres” its hardly worth watching. Can’t see many people wanting buy tickets for a Saturday qualifying when all you will see is one flying lap from each car. This is not racing but playing silly games with bits of rubber and who can make it last the longest. This tyre business will be the ruin of F1 for general viewing. All we will hear tomorrow is “save fuel” “save tyres” and not a race. We have already had the customary warning that the track is no good for overtaking so there is not a lot left to watch it for. BE should try watching some of the vintage races shown on Sky and remind himself of how it used to be. Not perfect but in a lot of cases better than now. And they raced in real rain conditions as shown today in a re-run of the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix.

      1. mhilgtx says:

        Funny I watched an IndyCar race the other day and they allow refueling and many more cautions than F1. You know what the whole broadcast was about? Managing fuel and drivers hitting predetermined lap times.

      2. Andrew says:

        The truth is there have been about 5 overtakes for position in Barcelona in a dry race in the last 20 years.

        I suggest that you watch all of these races now as you obviously didn’t at the time.

        Barcelona and Hungary have traditionally been the 2 guaranteed bore fests.

        There were very few dry vintage races, it’s all in your mind!

      3. Me says:

        Although some of us actually prefer to watch practice and qualify and then lose interest in the race…

    4. Anne says:

      My question is because I had the funny feeling that Vettel could have pushed harder to win the pole. Grosjean didn´t bother. He aborted the lap when he saw Rosberg´s time. In China we saw Vettel and Button not even trying. I see different things during qually 3 that I don´t understand

  7. Bring Back Murray says:

    Come on Mercedes! Hope they can find some race pace tomorrow and make a fight of it. Well Brawn said he was working on it. Good luck to them.

    I guess the less said about poor hapless Button the better! Tyre pressures not quite right? Come on Jens sort it!

    Pray that Alonso’s DRS is OK tomorrow too. He needs to start making inroads into Vettels lead tomorrow.

    And great! Championship play-off semi final second leg is on at the same time as the F1 tomorrow. Which one should I watch live? Well I think I’d prefer to see Alonso and co going hell of leather over 66 laps!

    1. Peter C says:

      No grip.

    2. mhilgtx says:

      Don’t you hate that, then when you do make a choice for F1 and they run the score for the game you are trying to watch later across the bottom. I swear if someone will make a tv that can selectively block that out they will make a killing.

  8. mhilgtx says:

    Interesting to see you thought Massa’s impediment was so detrimental to Webber. The US guys, Steve Marchant (sp) and David Hobbs mentioned only and a P2 issue and thought it was much about nothing because they both got into P3. Is it possible they were mistakenly talking about the wrong session?

    Funniest exchange on the broadcast today was when Ferrari’s President was seen walking through the pits.

    David Hobbs: “Well that will increase your blood pressure by 80psi.”

    Steve: (paraphrasing) that is why you see every on their toes

    David: ….you just need to “casually have a heart attack”

    Funny stuff love the way the ex driver ex mechanic play off each other and present the differing views of the two parts of the pit.

    Kimi’s Lotus seems to have geniunly found some pace, but at the expense of downforce. I think, without looking at the time sheets, he lost over .3 seconds to RBR in the final section.

    Looking forward to seeing how Brawn plans on holding back Vettel and Lotus.

    1. James Allen says:

      Stewards agreed….

      1. mhilgtx says:

        Apparently so, which really makes me think they looked at tape from a different infringement. Thanks James.

    2. +1 for mhilgtx’s post! Indeed, Steve Machett and David Hobbs are, very respectably, rowng the boat for NBC with the suits and glitzy/artsy set only detracting from the content of their offering – Varsha was far better for the mix and could stay on topic/issue with knowledge and class. He didn’t need producers in his ear telling him what to say. Sorry, but that’s the way it comes accross these days. Dissapointing, but now you can sleep in, mow the lawn and read about the event on JA F-1. Thank You, James.

      1. KRB says:

        Varsha’s moved over to NBC Sports now, no? I don’t get their coverage now (miss it terribly!), even though TSN picks up their (NBC Sports) feed for IndyCar Racing.

      2. Believe that Bob Varsha was the only one of the Speed TV F-1 broadcasting “team” that didn’t move. However, he did “stand in” for an earlier event when the other person wasn’t available and the contrast was significant.

      3. mhilgtx says:

        Sorry to post so much.

        Bob Varsha did do the Malaysia GP for NBC, and I have seen him still doing some stuff with Speed as well. He might be freelancing. I like him although he did make the mistake on the Vettel/Webber “get him out of the way” fiasco of saying Webber was going faster. He did this by not realizing that chain of communication had happened a few laps earlier and Webber’s faster lap was a result of having been told to go faster.

      4. Craig says:

        Varsha sat in for Diffey for one race and may do so again periodically. I prefer Varsha over Diffey and I hope he comes back full time next year.

  9. John says:

    James great article. Is this it for Mclaren 2013? Do you think they will win a race this year? No Lewis, No Vodafone 2013, No Merc engine 2015! It looks like only going down hill from here.

    1. James Allen says:

      I wouldn’t write them off like that. But they have their heads down at the moment.
      It’s like Ferrari last year, in terms of not getting what they expected from their updates.

      But look at Ferrari this year…

      1. Joel says:

        James, to be fair they are in a much worse situation than Ferrari was last year.
        Or, are you implying that the car is reasonably better, just that the drivers are unable to capitalize?

      2. [MISTER] says:

        Yes James, but Ferrari decided to risk and build a new car in 2012 knowing they will use that car for 2 years. McLaren took the same risk and built a new car just for one year because next year’s car is going to be so different. It just doesn’t make sense.
        Last year’s car was so fast, why take this risk this year is beyond my understanding.

      3. James Allen says:

        No the problem is correlation. That would be a problem whether the car was new, evolved or whatever it was

      4. Bayan says:

        Looks like the problem is pull rod suspension at the front. Maybe all their gizmos have been optimized for the pushrods suspension only. Ferrari went through the same thing last year and also said it was correlation issues. And given that last years mclaren was so fast, I find it hard to believe that these correlation issues didn’t affect them last year. Unless of course they used different wind tunnels or something.

      5. Stephen Taylor says:

        James I noted in your later comment you mentioned Mclaren’s correlation problem . Do you think some of these correlation in this case specifically has been affected by the idea of being too radical and changing to a pullrod suspension?

      6. Martin says:

        Hi Stephen,

        The pullrod suspension is unlikely to be part of the correlation problem. Suspension components are pretty simple aerodynamically and the angles used with pullrod vs pushrod are cleaner and beneficial.

        In regards to correlation problems, if you make a big change with several variables at the same time then it can be difficult to find the source of error, so in that sense you could be right. Most of the teams made enough of a change for this to be a potential problem. There are many possibilities here. For example McLaren may have made an error in its 60% tyre model for wind tunnel testing. The way the tyre deflects is critical to the aerodynamics, and each team will make its own tyres for wind tunnel testing based on the data Pirelli gives them.

        Gary Anderson has the view that the McLaren front wing is too simple. It aims to make a lot of downforce, but when it stalls too much of it stalls and too much downforce is lost. This may be correct.

  10. John M says:

    Only gleaning info from the commentaries, but I found it interesting that Hamilton was told that the team was happy circulating in .31′s .32′s on their long run in FP2 and without too much deg. They then came out in FP3 and told him to run .28′s which he overshot and did a .279

    I would have thought that if they were in trouble with deg they would have run the .28′s in FP2 which was the Ferrari, Red Bull, Lotus pace to see what the deg was like and then adjusted to their race pace in FP3.

    Were they over fueled in FP2? Could they have fixed their problem?

    Also interesting that they are on the same tyre strategy as Red Bull, saving all their hard tyres.

    Could be a very interesting last third of the race tomorrow. Hope it stays dry.

    1. Alex Supertramp says:

      It’s possible that they were a little over fueled. They were doing race sims on the hard tyre. That tyre won’t be used in the first 10-13 laps, so that leaves a margin. James stated that they had a sharp drop off yesterday, but they did some more race sims during FP3, I’d love to have a look at those times.

      1. John M says:

        I’d love to see those times too. But where can we get them.

        So James what was MERC drop off of the med and hard in fp2? Can you put some metrics around what their race deg might be on each compound.

        I’ve got to say that without a bit more commentary (from all sources) on this stuff watching fp becomes a bit pointless, because I don’t no much more after than I did before.

    2. Glennb says:

      “They then came out in FP3 and told him to run .28′s which he overshot and did a .279″

      Blatantly disobeying team orders ;)

    3. Joel says:

      Very much possible that the Mercs were running more fuel than the rest – Ross seemed to indicate that after the qualifying.

  11. Quade says:

    That was a really great quali! Congrats to Nico, Lewis and Merc. They sandbagged all weekend and then delivered a barn stormer. Merc might just pump out some well oiled, high octane excitement this season!
    Go Lewis! Go Nico!

    As for those naysayers who said winter test times could not be relied on (here and elsewhere). Well, some of us predicted that Merc could do it in the high one minute 19′s or 20′s; their times today fell within the 20′s and who knows what would have happened if Lewis had not done his last run on old tyres.

    It was sad for McLaren though; Button ended down in 14th with no grip. Perez did better, but 9th is still very poor.

    1. Kartik says:

      Lewis did his lap on New tires for his final run

      1. Joel says:

        So, I thought. But, in his interview he seemed to indicate otherwise.

      2. Kartik says:

        I Think you are coming from here
        “but today I didn’t have two option sets at the end”
        He didn’t have two Options to run in Q3 like Nico had
        Nico went into Q3 with only one set of Mediums, So he used Second set for his 1st run and 3rd set for his 2nd Run
        Lewis used 1 In Q1 then the same in Q2 first run then he again went out on new set of Mediums in Q2. Which left him for only one Fresh set in Q3.

    2. Joel says:

      I think Button/McLaren will sure be running out of excuses – a day back it was correlation and today it was tyre pressure?
      What will it be tomorrow?

      1. Grant says:

        +1
        So tired of listening to Button’s excuses.

      2. F12012 says:

        Whitmarsh must be sick of all these excuses by button, at least Perez gets on with it

        The way buttons going he’s going to get Whitmarsh the sack

    3. Martin says:

      The lap times show that the soft tyres, wind direction and lack of “blossum” on the track are worth more than two months of development in a time of relative rule stability.

      It could be safely assumed that Rosberg was running quite light in March. Clearly the Red Bull times were not indicative, so that part was true.

      The other part was that Hamilton came out early on and said the Mercedes does not have the downforce of the 2012 McLaren. The mid-testing upgrade helped. What we have seen in the last few years is an increase in the importance of suspension design. For a long time it was just add downforce.

    4. Ed Harkin says:

      I think it poorer to start 1-2 and finish 6th and 12th. Very poor indeed.

  12. Quade says:

    The article says this:

    “Rosberg showed particular confidence getting through into Q3 using a set of used tyres, while Hamilton was forced to use a new set, which meant he had one set less of mediums for the final runs.”

    But it wasn’t about Nico’s confidence, but more about Lewis flat-spotting a set of tyres in Q2, which caused him to use an old set in Q3.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, Lewis was trying to do the same as Rosberg and get through to Q3 on used mediums. He had to do another run, hence only one run in Q3.

      1. mercedes-born-again says:

        Yes but the way it’s been put kinda say Lewis had no confidence at all. Props to Lewis who said his team-mate was much faster than him!
        Anyway the race is tomorrow.

      2. ? says:

        Props to Lewis mentioning a fact?

        Lol.

      3. Joel says:

        James, did Lewis did his Q3 run on a new set? He seems to indicate otherwise.

      4. KRB says:

        Of course it was a new set. It was in Q2 that he tried to do it with a used set. He only ran once in Q3; Nico ran twice.

      5. Kidza says:

        Lewis used new mediums in Q1 then did a second run on the same tyres in Q2 as did Rosberg, Vettel and Webber. Unfortunately for him, Lewis had a small lock-up on his first Q2 run and the time was not good enough to get him into Q3. This forced him to do another run on new medium tyres, leaving him with only one new set of medium tyres for Q3. Rosberg and a couple other drivers had two new sets of mediums available for Q3.

    2. Grant says:

      Thanks for bringing up this paragraph Quade coz it just didn’t make sense to me when I read it.
      And I’m still lost from the comments above…

      Is the issue here that Lewis was not bale to make two runs in Q3 just like Nico, or is it something else?

  13. Eduan says:

    This is going to be a cooker! I my bet is on Raikkonen to win!

  14. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    For some people a Mercedes on pole was a surprise. I have imagined tomorrow in race day could be a surprise too. But for the win my favorite is Kimi, but who knows really.

    Great Rosberg not overreacting he’s faster than many champions, Hamilton included. Mercedes has a great pair of drivers, as McLaren had in former seasons.

    1. Anne says:

      The issue is what Mercedes is going to do with the pole. If Rosbreg or Hamilton win the pole in every race but then it doesn´t pay off with a win at some point it doesn´t make sense.

      1. brendan says:

        not a surprise is you look at the qualifying results all season.
        I guess they can generate heat quicker into the tyres in quali, faster than another team,but during the race(on full fuel) the tyres over heat and wear more quickly, making them slower.
        in the last race nico was a sitting duck on pole.
        be interesting to see if the new tyres will be any better for them ,as the operating temperature is 100 down from 110 degrees.
        I think nico/lewis will be fighting for 5th and 6th at the best,if its a warm day.

      2. Stephen Taylor says:

        It is partly down to that but it also down to the front end in the race . Unfortunately this means the car destroys the rear tyres . I think Lewis and Nico may even finish in 7/8th places maybe even behind one of the mclarens.

      3. Martin says:

        Hi Brendan,
        I think it is more than just tyre temperature coming up faster. The speed advantage for the Mercedes was in the last sector. The Mercedes was about even with the others in the first two sectors and gained in the last. It would be reasonably safe to assume that the Mercedes wasn’t hanging on to its tyres longer than the rest given the other trends.

        I suspect the ride control through the chicane could have a lot to do with it, allowing the drivers to get on the throttle earlier. The new tyres would hide any lack of traction from having less downforce.

        Mercedes may do some other things slightly differently, such as a little more rear camber, or through way it manages its ride height with its downforce levels and its suspension, slightly greater tyre pressures. The tyre pressures tend to be quite low in qualifying to allow a lower ride height for improved aerodynamics. This increases the tyres’ contact area, but doesn’t always aid grip.

      4. brendan says:

        hi martin, the race went to my plan(we all knew),i bet Alonso to win and massa each way.

        I guess only chance of a win for nico/lewis(apart from Monaco)is to have cooler track temperatures.
        lewis didn’t seem very pleased,he said on his radio I cant drive any slower.
        these tyres are a night mare ,ross brawn will be bald soon.

      5. Richard says:

        It’s not a question of what they do with it, but of reducing tyre degradation as until they finally get on top of that then they will always be beaten in the race as their pace drops off. They need to slightly reduce the energy they put through the tyre to achieve it so they retain their qualifying prowess, but can maintain good race pace. – All to do with tyre temperature!

      6. Me says:

        I didn’t realise there were so many experts around who knew exactly what the problem with the Mercedes was, it’s such a shame that the engineers that work there haven’t figured these things out.

      7. Richard says:

        You don’t have to be an expert to see what is blindingly obvious! – They work to tyres too much! – Put too much energy into them! The hard part is finding the solution. The engineers well understand what’s wrong, but finding the solution is somewhat harder. My money is on suspension geometry and the attitude the tyre meets the road surface in all three axes that needs to be analysed.

  15. Irish con says:

    After seeing the 2 merc laps inboard il be astonished if nico finishes ahead of Lewis in the race. His car looks too have far too good a turn in at the front to look after the tyres and Lewis’s car has a nice understeer balance. Kimi and Fernando for 1st and 2nd and then Sebastian and Lewis for me.

    1. KRB says:

      Where’d you see the inboards? If the Merc’s can hold their position (whether NR-LH or LH-NR) in the first laps, will P2 try to back the field up for P1? Would be the smart way to play it, but we’ll see.

      1. Tim says:

        Anthony Davidson showed both the Mercedes drivers laps during his analysis after quali’.
        Incidentally, I think his insights are excellent – his trained eye spots things I would not even think to look for :-)

    2. furniture says:

      This is the first decent comment I’ve read here today (15 comments down). The onboard footage shows chalk and cheese driving – Ros pushing to the limit, Ham almost tip-toeing. Ros will eat his tyres up in a handful of laps if he drives like that in the race. You can bet Ham will be ahead after the first pit stops.

  16. Whl says:

    Rosberg is easily matching Hamilton in raw speed, now that the bad luck and mechanical failures have disappeared at his side.

    But Mercedes will be lucky to finish the race in top 5. It’s like they set up the car for qualifying to grab the headlines because they know if they set it up for the race, they won’t grab any headlines.

    I remember Kimi said a few races ago that it is easy to set the car up to get pole each race but that it would mean very poor race pace. And that is what Mercedes is doing.

    1. BoogWar says:

      Not understanding something. Lewis ran 1:21.001 in Q2! that’s SEVEN TENTHS faster than his team mate did in an identical car! Am I missing something?

      1. James Allen says:

        Yes, ROS did it on a set of used tyres, as it says in the story

    2. I will says:

      You are a genius & more smarter than a bunch of guys in some teams who won championships. I suggest you & you genius driver Rai start a GP team & dominate F1 for 1000 years.

      1. Uh? says:

        What? The only top team doing this is Mercedes, you know the team that did not win a championship under this name and organisation.

        Which is why they will disappear in the race tomorrow, even on a track like this which has no overtaking posibilities. Just watch the Mercedes train after a few corners.

      2. Me says:

        I just made pretty much the same comment myself…

    3. brendan says:

      don’t think they doing it for headlines,they are a main team.
      my guess is they no they will go backwards in the race.
      it might rain or safety car might come out, so its better up front. for vettel/ kimi / Alonso they no they can win with out pole.(but they would love Mercedes speed)
      ross brawn aint daft, he nos if he can sort out the tyres they have the speed to win races.

      they are building a championship winning team,1st is to get the speed then work on the rest.
      they make there own engines,
      I would try to get james Allison on board.
      maybe he can sort the try issues out.

      1. Uh? says:

        As said before by drivers and engineers: it is easy to set up a car to get pole only. But the race will be heavily compromised.

        Exactly what you see at Mercedes. It is for headlines, there is no other reason I can think of.

  17. ShaBooPi says:

    James,

    I don’t understand how Rosberg was able to pick up almost half a second in the last sector. How is this possible? It is way too much. Happy he has pole but still. The theory i thought was that the Mercedes gets its tyres closer to optimum level in qualifying than others, but is that even worth that much in the final sector? Is this a technological advancement, a specific technique on the track, or just tyres? Thanks!

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s not half a second, it’s 6/100ths over Hamilton. And 3/10ths over Mercedes.

      Rosberg played it cool with used tyres in Q2 and saved the best for last.

    2. Martin says:

      A theory you could try to observe in the race is how the cars behave over the kerbs at the chicane. If the car is supple then the driver can use more of the kerb on the left hand entry making the right hand turn more gentle, allowing an earlier application of the throttle. So if the Mercedes is using more of the first kerb and using less exit space in the race, that would be a good answer, as a clear time to make up ground is when you’re accelerating and your opponents have wheels in the air.

      Or I could be entirely wrong…

  18. mercedes-born-again says:

    Wow 3rd pole in the row.-) Come Mercedes boys!

  19. mercedes-born-again says:

    typo: i meant 3rd pole in a row. Thanks Nico!Come on Mercedes boys!
    Obviously so happy, hope they can convert it to win/podium now! Proud to have Lewis with Silver Arrows! Good luck!

  20. Alex Supertramp says:

    Great stuff. The Mercedes appears to be way stronger than the rest of the field in the final, slow speed sector. That’s encouraging for Monaco!
    Hope the boys can take it home tomorrow, but I suspect we will see a great battle for the victory between Fernando, Seb & Kimi. But everything is possible in F1 and Merc has realy focussed on the race set up.

    1. James Allen says:

      Looks promising for Monaco. Will be a hell of a battle between Merc drivers there as they are both very strong at Monaco. Hamilton maybe edges it, but Rosberg has a lot of confidence at the moment

      1. “at the moment”… meaning straight after quali. Not after that last race Rosberg had. That wasn’t good by anyone’s standards. I have to say there is so much here of people over investing judgement based on a quali session or one race. Take a step back and be a little more measured! I know it’s the internet and everything but still….

      2. Stephen Taylor says:

        And even if the other cars (Lotus Ferrari and RBR are faster in race trim they might not be able to overtake . I agree that it does look good for Merc @ Monte Carlo . If Ross and the people on the Merc pitwall make the right calls on strategy Lewis/Nico will be in the box seats. I think it mighr be Mercs best chance to win all year.

      3. Martin says:

        In Monaco will be interesting to see who remembers Vettel’s strategy from last year. It will be hard for Mercedes to resist using the supersofts in qualifying so ensure pole, but with the supersoft being softer than last year, there might be quite a lot of desire to run a different strategy to the Mercedes to get clear air.

        I’ll be interested to see how much the Mercedes is aided by low speed mechanical grip and how much is ride control. Monaco has kerbs, but none quite as aggressive as the Barcelona chicane.

      4. Bayan says:

        Assuming they won’t eat through there tires during he race ofourse. It does help that passing is extremely hard in monaco.

      5. Richard says:

        By the same token I don’t think we have seen Lewis’s best yet. As the year progresses he will be settling in and getting to know the systems better. On top of that he tends to come alive when the car is good, and it is not there yet.

    2. Quade says:

      It will be interesting to see who gets to the first corner in the lead. Its quite a long straight and the Mercs are not the fastest off the start line. I imagine that Alonso in the electric starting Ferrari could be in 3rd position by turn one and Nico could lose 1st to Lewis who is expert at late braking. Who knows?

      I wish both Merc boys the best of luck. It’ll be nice to see a struggling team achieve a 1-2.

      If the other cars cannot nail the Mercs at the start, then it would be difficult to get them as they are by far the fastest in the DRS sector (thats if their tyres don’t go off).

      1. Alex Supertramp says:

        The Merc is by far the fastest car in sector 3. That could help them take a nice momentum into the main straight. This should allow them to defend AND attack more effectively in the first (and most important) DRS zone.

      2. brendan says:

        struggling team? I think they are doing well,its just the tyres are killing their races.
        they are not the fastest in the DRS zones Alonso/kimi is faster in zone 2.massa fastest in zone one.
        if nico /lewis can hold up vettel /kimi,until the DRS zones are open,alsono will me smiling.
        Alonso is on the clean side so he might get kimi at the start. if he could get vettel that would be a bonus. I really hope Alonso can win.

  21. Elie says:

    That was one hell of qualifying. Great lap by Roseberg and The onboard lap showed how awesome the car was -really planted through the high speed stuff but more importantly the grunt that thing had was epic- It was accelerating through 6/7 th gears at top speed like a wounded bull.! No wonder they struggle with tyres !!

    With Seb in 3rd , Kimi in 4th and Fernando in 5th- that’s going to be one crazy turn one. I think this will be the race of the year . Prior Quali Id hoped Kimi could get on the second row, so now my expectation is he takes the win. He’s been very quick all weekend – and this is in the range he range he likes- May the force be with you Iceman.

    1. Quade says:

      I just posted about turn one. Its a very long straight leading to it; there is potential to make a lot of places and potential for carnage.

  22. Sven says:

    Great lap from Nico. Merc has some amazing one-lap pace.

    Very good lap from Vettel too.Didn’t expect him to be so high, considering that Barcelona isn’t his best track and he usually struggles in S3. Surprised me.

    Lewis disappointed, but was good enough.

    As for Alonso… He seems to have lost form. He’s probably the worst performing top driver of this season so far. He had two attempts in Q3, as opposed to Vettel, and yet he set the fifth time only 0,001s faster than Massa. He couldn’t even put together his best sector times.

    What happened to Webber? Half a second worse than his teammate. I expected him to do better in Spain.

    1. Jude says:

      I agree on Alonso. He was in a great form last year, but he’s only human and that couldn’t last forever. This year, he’s making many mistakes and isn’t fast in general. Massa nearly outqualified him again. I think he peaked last year. His form is beginning to be a bit of a worry.

      1. Uh? says:

        Vettel broke Alonso’s spirit, pretty clear to see after 2 times losing the championship with just a couple of points in the last race.

        And if Vettel would go to Ferrari, that would be the end of Alonso.

      2. Larcxy says:

        In your dreams…..

        Conversely if Fernando went to Red Bull maybe it would be “the end” for Vettel.

        “Uh” indeed :)

    2. Rockie says:

      Interesting observation.

    3. quattro says:

      “As for Alonso… He seems to have lost form. He’s probably the worst performing top driver of this season so far.”

      As I see it, the actual facts suggest something totally different.

      In every race thus far, when ALO have not had mechanical problems or first lap incidents, he has delivered/outperformed. He has a win and a second place finish, after four starts – none of these came from pole, as ALO clearly does NOT have a pole capable package.

      In the other two GPs, he had problems – problems he could not have done anything to overcome, none could. In MAS he was out at 2nd lap due to broken front wing. He outperformed hugely in last GP, BRN, when he managed finishing within 2 seconds of 5th place finisher HAM, in spite of being dead last after seven lap and could not use DRS from that position till the end of the race.

      I think, after the performance of 2012, people expect ALO to deliver miracles on regular basis – including scoring big points when he has a DNF.

  23. mercedes-born-again says:

    Mr Allen, are you trying to instigate some feud between Nico and Lewis with all these veiled replies?! We all know what Mercedes car can do on qualy mode… Lewis is a very good qualifier as much as Nico in that domain! Why some people are surprised that both can match each other?
    Maybe i’m reading something in it i shouldn’t but it’s weird!
    We are very happy in the Mercedes camp nor, no need to reel us off pointing that:-)

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ve no idea what you are talking about. What veiled replies?

      1. Thompson says:

        me sir, no sir..titter he not….nay nay….I have no idea what you’re talking about –

        Lol… (in best Frankie Howard voice)

      2. Miha Bevc says:

        me neither…

      3. Guy Brown says:

        Don’t rise to it James! Keep up the great work, much appreciated, your site enhances my enjoyment of f1 tenfold.

    2. brendan says:

      feud? its normal for team mates to wanna beat each other.lewis and nico are friends,
      lewis will want a team mate to push him and vice vera.
      lewis brings that little extra to a team(maybe a winning mind set),(just ask button now.)
      lewis is on a learning curve with the team/car,
      I think lewis is more of a natural racer than nico.
      put him in any good car and will make it better with time.

    3. dean cassady says:

      please elaborate with the purpose of clarification.

  24. Glennb says:

    Congrats to Nico and Mercedes. I really didn’t see that coming until it was too late :)
    Nico continues to impress me as does Lewis. Great result for the team. I only hope it translates to a decent race pace on Sunday. Can’t wait for the turn #1 action.
    Not his biggest fan but Vettel to win, Kimi, Fernando.

  25. goferet says:

    Yikes, Mercedes keep pulling those silver rabbits out.

    Pretty impressive performance by Rosberg, he sure looks one of those rare speed merchants that can do it over a lap.

    I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised seeing as the team were pretty good during pre-season testing at Barcelona

    And even though the team is cautious, I think they may have a good chance here for with this track lay out, it’s very easy to keep faster cars behind like Vettel did to Lewis in 2011, or Maldonado on Alonso in 2012.

    Anyway, it was also a good job by Lewis and Vettel for managing to put in just one good lap for this is always a tricky strategy to employ towards the end of Q3 because many things can go wrong.

    From Kimi’s performance, it appears Lotus have got on top of the medium tyres woes but more impressive is the fact that Kimi out qualifies Grosjean again.

    For sure the biggest surprise are Ferrari for Alonso was showing some really good pace so I thought he would have made it to the front row.

    Brilliant performance by Perez he seemed to even surprise himself.

    Congrats to Di Resta, Bottas and Van der Garde too

    As for Webber, I think it him takes a while to cool down when he has been annoyed (in this case Massa) and that’s why there is a big gap to Vettel in P3.

    P.s.

    I think we may be in for another classic.

    Whenever slower cars (Mercedes in this case) are ahead on track = good action e.g. Barcelona 2011 after the first lap.

  26. Scuderia McLaren says:

    Rosberg schools Hamilton in one lap pace, again.

    1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      No in qualify Hamilton wins Rosberg 3-2 so far this year.

    2. Anil says:

      By a whopping 2 tenths?

      Rosberg beat Lewis in Bahrain by ruining his tyres and was heavily punished for it in the race. Quali positions don’t necessarily show the whole picture.

  27. Mitchel says:

    Tyrell lockout the front row!

    Anglicised Top Ten line up:

    1. Tyrell
    2. Tyrell
    3. Stewart
    4. Toleman
    5. Ferrari
    6. Toleman
    7. Stewart
    8. McLaren
    9. Ferrari
    10. Jordan

    That’s more like it..

    1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      OK, is your TV working in black & white?

    2. Justa Bloke says:

      +1 :)

    3. RodgerT says:

      Internationalized top 10 line up:

      1: German
      2: English
      3: German
      4: Finnish
      5: Spanish
      6: French
      7: Australian
      8: Mexican
      9: Brazilian
      10: Scottish

    4. j says:

      This is a grand idea. For one race all the teams should come out in “throwback” livery that represents the teams they were when they came into the sport.

      1. Mitchel says:

        Would be nice for a one off, wouldn’t it?

        The closest we’ve had is the occasional tribute helmets from the drivers..

        I remember loving the Ligier’s Gitanes special livery in ’93!

    5. Kieran Mathers says:

      I actually love this – I’m now imagining all the modern drivers in 70′s style cars with modern livery’s (what do you think they’d make of that?). What a wonderful, strange and surreal image that is. Thank you very much :-)

    6. All revved-up says:

      Good one. Enjoyed that!

  28. brendan says:

    I guess lewis or nico are certain to win Monaco judging by the times set in sector 3.
    as for tomorrow its between vettel,kimi and Alonso.
    james I know it may sound silly, but Alonso top speed is 318, vettel 306, kimi 313 ,lewis nico 312.
    in DRS 2 if Alonso is behind vettel he will be 18 mph faster and 11 more than kimi and 12 more than nico lewis.
    you cant really over take in sector 3,theres another DRS zone in sector 2.
    so if Alonso doesn’t let them get to far ahead are they there for the picking?
    if he can get ahead how could they over taken him?
    even with DRS vettel will be -minus 6mph and the others just level.
    am I taking rubbish? and does the Spanish track have similar characteristic’s as china?
    Alonso won easy there.
    I think its going to be the best gp yet(if lewis and nico have not solved race tyre issues)

    1. Uh? says:

      RBR reaches the top speed faster than the Ferrari, like a yoyo. So before Alonso is at a much higher speed, the breaking point is already there.

    2. dean cassady says:

      good comment, though your numbers seem a bit confusing

      1. brendan says:

        I miss calculated but the race went to my plan,i knew Alonso with DRS was 318 kmh(I calculated it without) vettel was 306 so in DRS zone (race) vettel would be 296 Alonso 318 if behind him.
        so where ever alonso was he would beat vettel.
        I knew kimi would do one pit less,so it was a 2 horse race.
        anyway I bet Alonso to win(4/1) and I had massa each way(40/1).

        been betting on f1 for years won a lot,but this year has been very difficult.
        hopefully I have got on top of the tyres now ha 0:)

    3. Bayan says:

      I’m thinking multiple safety cars in Monaco this year. Good possibility merc will burn through their tires in the race which means other cars will be looking to pass and this seems like a recipe for crashes in monaco.

  29. tim says:

    What’s going on with Webber James, seems t be strong in practice sessions all year but terrible in qually, any thoughts ?

    1. AuraF1 says:

      It’s the Helmut Marko conspiracy voodoo doll. Same one used on Webbers clutch at every race start ;)

  30. Richard says:

    In post qualifying BBC interview with Vettel, what was the “trick” Vettel was referring to for sector 3?

    1. brendan says:

      he put redbull in his tank(gives you wings)

    2. Martin says:

      Presumably a choice of lines in turns 12 and/or the chicane. You can make 12 with one or two apecies. A book I have argues two is the fastest way for long corners like that one. With the chicane there are various choice you can make as to how much kerb you use on both the left and right handers. For example you might use a lot on the left hander to open out the right hander as much as possible and then use much less of the right hand kerb to maximise traction. Or if bounce to far off the left hand kerb you get too close to the right hand kerb, making it slower.

  31. Michael says:

    James, if and only if the track is cold tomorrow and most teams are struggling with graining, could that play into Mercedes hands as their tyres will be in the right window?

    1. dean cassady says:

      no matter what weather conditions, Mercedes will be hard on their tires; it’s the way the car uses them.

  32. Trespasser says:

    Good effort by Perez! Barcelona is a track that is very well known by all the drivers, usually when there is a big gap between drivers the one with a weak lap time is the one that did a lame job either on set-up or driving.
    I have a feeling that McLaren will have a better race pace and fight for 4th or 5th, just like in Bahrain.

  33. Racing Fan says:

    Hello Allen. Do you know or does anybody know where to find information about the number of engines used by each driver so far this year?

    1. Vivek says:

      Try vivaf1.com

  34. spactus says:

    Conratz Nico,everytime some beats Lewis the British Tribal media always seems to want to narrate it as an enditment on Lewis and a way to delitigimize him rather than just recognising that the other guy did a good job.Nico did a better job kudos to him.
    This qualifing shows how much Lewis has grown as a driver,he had less tire available to him so he had to drive a fast but controlled lap,by not taking to much risk trying to undo Nico,and ending up with 0.but also saving his tires.all credit to Nico but having provisional pole he could risk more on final lap.lewis lap with a few errors was still very controlled and not flat out on the edge.this new formula 1 is all about tires tires tires

    1. Grant says:

      And the strange thing is that Lewis is British…
      I’ve noticed what you pointing out Spactus but never understood it.

      Could some please school me on this dilemma?

      1. AuraF1 says:

        The British tabloid press loves nothing more than building up a hero before tearing him apart. It’s happened to every British driver of note.

        The specialist F1 media in Britain tend to like Hamilton more but his name generates clicks, hits and sales so whether its a good or bad headline, you generally need to focus it on the biggest name.

        I don’t know if its true but the Spanish media seems to think the same way about Alonso.

      2. Grant says:

        Thanks for clarifying things.
        But Alonso gets unimaginable support from both the Spanish media and Spaniards?….

      3. AuraF1 says:

        Maybe he does, I had heard from some Spanish fans that occasionally alonso got criticised in the Spanish media (along with the normal use the national stars name to attract attention).

        The thing is F1 in the UK has waxed and waned in popularity. When Jenson button was winning in 2009 there was a notable upswing in coverage (alongside the move to the BBC coverage which admittedly was also a major factor). But since Lewis is still the bigger name any story is listed with his name first in the UK media.

        Even before the race it was mostly headlines like Lewis Hamilton beaten to second place by Nico Rosberg. So the story still leads with hamiltons name. No doubt the story headlines tomorrow will be Lewis Hamilton in doldrums as race won by former Hamilton teammate alonso ;)

  35. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Hope Button could go ahead of Caterhams tomorrow.

    Go Checo! Perez starts from P8.

  36. Dan says:

    It’s a given that Lewis will finish higher than Nico tomorrow.

    But am I wrong in thinking Mercedes have the strongest driver pairing on the grid?

    1. Kieran Mathers says:

      No, it’s a damn good pairing. Young, enthusiastic and willing to push each other really very hard. The car helps too though! O hope LH’s and NR’s friendship survives though, they seem like good mates.

    2. Martin says:

      Not according to Ross Brawn. An advantage Mercedes have is that its drivers get along better than Red Bull’s.

      The Mercedes driver who is ahead at the end of lap one will be pretty well placed to be there at the end. However, in Malaysia we saw the leading Mercedes race the cars around it and the other not race and drive to a delta time. The same thing happened in Bahrain. In Malaysia, Rosberg should have finished ahead and in Bahrain he needed an extra stop. So it could be that the driver that races the least finishes ahead. In that sense, Lewis with his greater success is probably more mature as he doesn’t have to win right now, while Nico will want to establish himself.

      On your question, I’m debating whether Lotus’ line up has greater potential than Mercedes’. For me, Vettel’s edge over Hamilton (fewer errors in tyre management over a season) is a large part of this doesn’t overcome Webber’s drop in performance this year. I feel Massa’s form pick up and his experience in winning is still worth something, but he needs to master the tyres in race conditions. At the moment I’m sitting on the fence on Mercedes versus Ferrari, to see a few more races. By the end of the year, if Grosjean picks up, it could be black team ahead by having the strongest #2 driver.

  37. Thompson says:

    Lol….3 poles in 3 attempts with the added bonus of a front row lock out (I’d hate to be Paddy Lowe right now) – now if they have resolved the rear tyre problem this weekend we may be in for a suprise.

    Hamilton eluded to what the problem was in an interview with Brundle the other week – hot air from the exhaust causing the tyres to over heat – o.k over one lap a problem over race distance.

    don’t be suprised to see that 0.5sec transfer to race day in the not too distant future.

    You watch…those Mercs may just vanish into the distance…….

    1. Martin says:

      0.5 of second per lap wouldn’t have been enough to win in Bahrain…

  38. Colin says:

    McLaren look all at sea. At least Ferrari turned it around in pretty quick order last year. How can you fix the car when the car spends most of its time in the garage like in first qualifying. There’s a cancer at McLaren and I’m afraid it may centre around a certain Ex Williams employee! Get a grip Ron

    1. ShaBooPi says:

      Come on…Ferrari didn’t really turn anything around that quickly. It took them some time before they got a decent car. I think the Mclaren bashing is a little ridiculous. In my opinion, over the last few years Mclaren have had a generally faster car than Ferrari. Frankly this is the first year in the last six that Ferrari is faster than Mclaren. The only team that has had a faster car than Mclaren over the last few years is Red Bull. So I don’t believe Mclaren deserve that much grief.

      1. AuraF1 says:

        Ferrari and Mclaren have both had the same problem with their wind tunnel calculations it seems. It’s just mclaren hit this year and Ferrari last year.

        Last year though Ferrari had alonso on perfect form and they had bullet proof reliability. Mclaren are having all sorts of failures as well as poor speed. Jensons recurring curse of the unattached wheel nut has left him even lower in points than he might have salvaged from this utterly confused car.

  39. Gord says:

    “Hamilton is faster than you, can you confirm ?”

  40. haha says:

    Why are people forgetting that Alonso was out-qualified by Massa 4 times in a row and almost again today? It does not make Massa a better driver than Alonso does it? I don’t like some of the Hammy undermining going on here.

  41. sudipt123 says:

    Wow, great qualifying by Mercedes team. I’m rooting for kimi though. Just worried about the start from the lotus. On 2 occasions there was wheelspin from the lotus of kimi, which cost him the attack. Ferrari look very strong at Starts especially Alonso, and maybe he can challenge the silver arrows at turn 1 itself.

  42. Rach says:

    Today was an interesting day and I feel we’re starting to learn some interesting things.

    1) Hamilton is a good loser. This shows well for his personality because in my view he is the fastest out there.

    2) nico is quicker than anyone thought

    3) What a job MSC did at 40+ yrs

    Enjoyed today and looking forward to a titanic battle tomorrow.

    1. James Allen says:

      All three valid observations

  43. Rich C says:

    James, I seem to recall that Lewis and Nico are supposed to be great buddies. How do they appear to be working out as teammates?

    1. James Allen says:

      As you would expect from kids who grew up together..

  44. Mad bird says:

    Well done Mercedes boys, lets hope that they won’t be going backward too much tomorrow

  45. Uh? says:

    One thing that’s funny is how the usual suspects stopped with the “it’s easy winning from pole” argument, used againts Vettel.

    Using that argument: if Nico or Hami don’t win, it must prove they are average cabdrivers, nothing more ;)

  46. _Nick_ says:

    How is it that on a fresh set of tyres the rears on Webber’s car were gone by turn 9? These tyres are pathetic for F1. Pirelli should be embarrassed.

  47. Scuderia McLaren says:

    Post quail conversation:

    Rosberg: “Schooled Hammy…”
    Hamilton: “Shuddup or I’ll tweet our wing settings!”
    Rosberg: “You obviously forgot about social media confidentiality clause 7.3″
    Hamilton: “Shit”
    Rosberg: “Yeah that’s right. Wanna go back to McLaren?! They might take you back. If not, Sauber might… hehe.”
    Hamilton: “No!”
    Rosberg: “Didn’t think so. So you just play nice and tell the world I was faster, again.”
    Hamilton: “Still I rise… Still I rise… Still I rise…”

  48. Chris says:

    Looking forward to the start tomorrow, I fancy Alonso to lead into turn 1, with yet another perfect non wheel-spin start. How does he do that perfect start every single time?

    1. Sven says:

      It’s the car.

  49. vivek says:

    Hi James.

    Sergio Perez seems to be 3 tenths slower in Q3 than his Q2 time. Did he do any mistake in his lap?

    In Q2 he was only 3 tenths off the pace of the ferrari’s and lotuses. Have McLaren actually improved??

    And finally, can we expect a dramatic turn around when the other parts like front wing, rear suspension updates come in monaco and canada?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, Q3 time was a let down after the high of Q2

  50. Mohammed Al-Momen says:

    With Kimi on the 2nd row I think he is real threat, and could possibly win the race.

  51. ron says:

    James, I’d be curious to hear about Alonso and reason behind his relative lack of form in qualifying. Has Massa really been that exceptional, or has Alonso been struggling this season? Any concern that he might be “peaking” in his career, overall? Or have we all just been spoiled by his special performances last season.

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t think the Ferrari is particularly brilliant in qualifying. Massa was in front a bit at the end of last year too.

      Remember that Alonso always finishes well ahead in the race, so he’s obviously prioritising that in his set up, but yes you are right he’s not been stellar in quali

      1. AuraF1 says:

        Alonso has always said he’s not the best or fastest qualifier – I think I recall his quote that he is not the best at anything but he’s more consistent in all areas.

      2. quattro says:

        LOL

        “… he is not the best at anything but he’s more consistent in all areas.”

        I am curious, what does that exactly mean – “not the best at ANYTHING” but “more consistent IN ALL AREAS”?

        One thing is certain for sure, he is being modest.

      3. AuraF1 says:

        He was being modest but it was quite an honest assessment. Alonso knows that there are almost certainly faster one lap specialists, more daring overtakers, more strategic thinkers – but they all have ups and downs. I think alonso knows his best trait (and I’m paraphrasing his interview from memory here) ‘there are others who are 100% in one area but lacking in others – I am only 95% in all areas but I have no outstanding weakness’

        That sounds like a pretty good thing to be.

  52. All revved-up says:

    Nope, didn’t cross many minds. And certainly not the minds of F1 experts criticising Hamilton’s move to Mercedes all pre-season long.

    Hind sight is a wonderful thing, but as many F1 fans have learnt, Murray Walker’s first commandment of F1 is so true: “in F1 anything can happen and usually does”.

    Twists and turns in an F1 season is what makes it so fascinating.

    0.3 seconds in sector 3 – wow.

    1. ? says:

      Hamilton’s move is still not smart because they just perform in qualifying (zero points), you guys are cheering way too early about it being a good move. Wait until this season is over, then gloat if you can.

      BTW, Rosberg is easily matching him.

      1. All revved-up says:

        Don’t mean to gloat. I’m neutral about Hamilton’s move.

        I was just referring to the overwhelming sentiment in 2012 by “experts” that his move was a bad one.

        But the race results certainly support your point that it’s too premature to conclude one way or the other.

        I would have expected F1 experts to explain the good and the bad between McLaren and Mercedes. Instead the commentary seemed overwhelmingly negative about Mercedes. As though the Brackely team of people were second class compared to the folks in Woking.

  53. Richard says:

    There’s no doubt that Nico and Lewis are very closely matched, but what actually happened was that Nico had his car set up just that little bit better than Lewis giving the slightly faster time in Q3. Having said that Lewis’s run in Q2 was outstanding. It will be interesting to see how the race develops between the two as I suspect Lewis may get past Nico in the first couple of laps. Of course the bigger question is how will the tyres last. Mercedes say they have done some work on improving the situation, but I suspect they are still not there in reducing tyre degradation adequately. They need to pull it back just enough to make the tyres last without impacting too greatly on their single lap performance or their ability to get heat into the tyres adequately for qualifying. Everything now depends on tyre performance and set up.

  54. All revved-up says:

    I wonder what Brawn/Mercedes’ strategy will be.

    Have one Merc hold up the pack while the other races off into the distance?

  55. David C says:

    Hey James it would be great if you did a piece evaluating all teams improvements in Barcelona (sine it has been billed as the place where all the teams would bring upgrades) personally I think the story so far is the huge gains by torro rosso, hopefully we get a chance this year to see what the two guys can do.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s in the works..pending results from the race to judge effectiveness

  56. Danny Almonte says:

    No major updates from Mercedes but a slew of subtle refinements. If Mercedes have mitigated the tire wear issue they could be on the podium on Sunday.

  57. Ryan Eckford says:

    Don’t be fooled by Hamilton saying that he didn’t have the perfect setup, because he also didn’t have the perfect setup in Bahrain for qualifying, yet performed way better than Rosberg in the race.

    Mercedes are in the best position to win this race due to having track position, and the fact that it is so hard to pass on this circuit.

  58. Robert N says:

    James,

    do teams do video analysis of past GP starts to see what lines are promising into the first corner? Also, do drivers study past starts of drivers next to them on the grid? E.g. do Vettel + Raikkonen analyse Alonso’s past starts in Barcelona to get an idea of what to expect from him?

  59. Sufyaan Patel says:

    Anyone know how many sets of new hard/medium tyres Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen have at their disposal?

  60. Dan says:

    GET RID OF THESE TYRES!!! Its just a big train of drivers looking after tyres! Boring!!!!!!

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