Barcelona Quali Recap: Rosberg storms to pole, Hamilton 2nd, Alonso 5th

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Nico Rosberg (1:20.718) won pole for the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix in a thrilling final lap duel with much of the rest of the Q3 field. Though he went out early in Q3 and in hindsight could have sat on that lap time, he went back out and improved to set a pole time nearly two tenths faster than second place qualifier and his teammate Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel qualified third, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth. Fernando Alonso could only go fifth fastest for his home crowd, while the biggest surprise was Mark Webber only eighth fastest.

Alonso (1:25.252) set the fastest time during Friday morning’s practice, setting that time near the end of the damp and drying session. He had been quickest earlier when the track was wet, but did not remain so as the circuit dried out during the session’s progression. Teammate Massa, Vergne, Grosjean, and Sutil rounded out the fastest five. Red Bull did not set quick times in the changing conditions, though both Vettel and Webber ran comparatively quickly earlier in practice. Despite the changing conditions, there were no major incidents, but a few spins.

Vettel (1:22.808) resumed his quick pace for the afternoon practice, pipping Alonso to the top spot. Webber, Raikkonen, Massa completed the list of the fastest five, though Hamilton was very quick in sixth, and only .332s covered the top six. Though Mercedes was fast in the early, hard compound running, Alonso and the Red Bulls had more speed in the fast, qualifying simulation runs at the end of practice. Again, a tyre delaminated during FP2, with di Resta the unlucky victim. His left rear shredded as he drove down the start finish straight. He parked his Force India in the grass and managed to set the tenth fastest time before ending his session early.

Massa (1:21.901) led the final practice Saturday morning, with teammate Alonso relegated to sixth in the late quali sim runs after having led most of the session. Raikkonen, Webber, Grosjean, and Vettel filled the running order between them.

Q1:
No driver had queued to begin the twenty minutes of Q1 straightaway. The wind was quite strong; the sun shining brightly. Ricciardo finally got things going, nearly four minutes into the session. Maldonado followed quickly, as did Hulkenberg and Vergne. As the early drivers set times, other began trickling out onto the track. Raikkonen (1:23.087) led the way at halfway, with Grosjean, Vergne, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Maldonado, and Gutierrez the running order of men with times.

Alonso and Massa flew on their first flying laps, with the former taking nearly a second off Raikkonen’s time. Massa slotted between them. In the final seven minutes, many drivers were out directly on the medium, softer, tyres. As the final five minutes began, Alonso (1:22.264) led Massa, Raikkonen, Sutil, and Grosjean as the top five. Rosberg soon supplanted Alonso at the top. Meanwhile, neither Red Bull, McLaren, nor Hamilton had yet set a fast time. Perez managed seventh fastest on hi first lap, only to have Button jump up to sixth. That would no last long, as Vettel went second fastest on his own first lap. At the top, Hamilton replaced his teammate. Webber soon slotted into fifth fastest.

With three minutes to go, all drivers had finally set times and Hulkenberg, Gutierrez, Pic, Chilton, van der Garde, and Bianchi in the knockout zone. Gutierrez was even less perfectly situated for a great starting position with Button complaining that the Williams massively held him up on his own fast lap.

Hulkenberg managed to move up to tenth fastest and subsequently Maldonado returned to the knockout zone. In the end, Hamilton (1:21.728) led the session, with Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Grosjean, di Resta, and Vergne the fastest ten.

Knocked Out in Q1:
17. Bottas
18. Maldonado
19. van der Garde
20. Bianchi
21. Chilton
22. Pic

Q2:
Gutierrez led the way to start the fifteen minutes of Q2, followed by Hulkenberg. Neither were right on the button as both waited nearly three minutes into the session to begin. Raikkonen (1:21.676) soon led the session, with Hulkenberg, Vettel, Gutierrez, and Webber the fastest five nearing halfway. Rosberg then made his way to second fastest as a number of times dropped in the pack. Alonso next went fastest, beating Raikkonen by three hundredths. Button could manage not better than fifteenth fastest on his first lap, more than two seconds off Alonso’s pace.

Most drivers popped into the garage for fresh tyres with five minutes remaining. At that point, Alonso led Raikkonen, Rosberg, Massa, and Grosjean as the top five. Vergne, Perez, di Resta, Sutil, Button, and Ricciardo were then in the knockout zone. The Red Bulls led the way back out when four minutes were left. Raikkonen would not go back out, unless necessary, according to a team radio transition.

The top five remained in the garage with two minutes to go. Vettel went straight to the top with his second fast run, taking four hundredths off Alonso’s time. Webber went fourth fastest. Di Resta looked to haul himself out of the knockout zone, and did, moving up to eighth with barely time for another lap. Ricciardo also moved up, to ninth. Vergne looked safe, but dropped out as Perez and Hamilton moved on to Q3. In the end, Hmailton (1:21.001) led Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, Webber, Rosberg, Perez, Massa, Grosjean, and di Resta moving on to Q3. Button could manage only fourteenth.

Knocked Out in Q2:
11. Ricciardo
12. Vergne
13. Sutil
14. Button
15. Hulkenberg
16. Gutierrez

Q3:
Raikkonen went immediately on to the track as the ten minutes of Q3 began. Rosberg and Alonso soon followed. Raikkonen’s first lap (1:21.539) was a bit ragged, leaving plenty of room for Alonso to beat the early benchmark by three tenths. Rosberg was much quicker, setting a time seven tenths faster than Kimi. After their first runs, Rosberg led Alonso, Massa, Grosjean, and Raikkonen as both the top five and the only men with times at halfway.

Di Resta had set an out lap, completing the final two sectors, but all the drivers looked set for a single lap duel for pole. Vettel was the first back out, just at the three minute mark, with Raikkonen and a number of other drivers following. Everyone had made his way out with two minutes to go.

Raikkonen was very fast in his first sector. Vettel managed only second fastest on his first lap, crossing the line with time enough for a second lap. Raikkonen was just slower than Vettel. Hamilton, despite his early fast time in Q2, could not beat his teammate as Rosberg had improved his own time. Alonso managed only fifth fastest, with Massa just slower. Webber had a terrible lap, qualifying eighth. In the end, Rosberg could have sat in the garage on his provisional pole but went back out to be sure. His final lap was nearly two tenths up on his teammate.

Final Qualifying Times for the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix:

 DriverTeamTimeLaps
1. Nico RosbergMercedes1:20.71812
2. Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:20.97212
3. Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:21.05412
4. Kimi RaikkonenLotus1:21.17717
5. Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:21.21812
6. Felipe MassaFerrari1:21.21912
7. Romain GrosjeanLotus1:21.30816
8. Mark WebberRed Bull1:21.57012
9. Sergio PerezMcLaren1:22.06913
10. Paul di RestaForce India1:22.23317
11. Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1:22.12714
12. Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1:22.16612
13. Adrian SutilForce India1:22.34612
14. Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:22.3559
15. Nico HulkenbergSauber1:22.38913
16. Esteban GutierrezSauber1:22.79315
17. Valtteri BotatsWilliams1:23.2609
18. Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1:23.3189
19. Giedo van der GardeCaterham1:24.6616
20. Jules BianchiMarussia1:24.7136
21. Max ChiltonMarussia1:24.9966
22. Charles PicCaterham1:25.0706
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