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GP Week : Issue 220
QUALIFYING few not to bring development parts to Spain. It's hanging out desperately for the updated car, but that isn't expected now until after the Austrian Grand Prix, meaning it's going to be a tough few races for Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. If one excludes Manor, which has its own battles to deal with before it contemplates racing anyone, Force India was the slowest car on track pretty well all weekend. Hulkenberg may have been 11th fastest in opening practice but at least one of the two cars has been firmly rooted at the bottom of the timesheets suggesting there is little left in the current car. Worse, there's nothing coming for it either until Austria when it gets chucked in a skip, a moment the two drivers will be looking for ward to no doubt. But even the new car won't be a revolution, it is expected it'll simply put them back into the mix, where it should be now. Every race between now and when the new car arrives it wasted time. Still, it looks as though after a combative Bahrain Grand Prix that Nico Rosberg has rediscovered himself. After practice and in qualifying he looked the man that raced Lewis Hamilton so hard in the first half of the 2014 championship, not the man who's occupied the second Mercedes since Belgium. FORMULA 1TM GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA PIRELLI 2015 66 LAPS ROUND 5/19 << Last Race – Bahrain Three Weeks Ago 1 Next Race – Monaco >> Two Weeks’ Time FORMULA 1TM GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA PIRELLI 2015 QUALIFYING CLASSIFICATION 1 – For the first time this season Lewis Hamilton is not on pole, as Nico Rosberg heads the field on this track for the 2nd time in the past 3 years. Mercedes AMG have locked out the front row in all 3 of those years. Their margin over the rest of the field is reduced to 0.510s this weekend, having been 0.885s last year. Rosberg will look to extend this track’s distinction of having 92% of his race winners come from pole position, a higher percentage than Monaco. It is Mercedes’ 40th pole as a constructor, surpassing Brabham for 7th on the all-time list. 2 – Hamilton is on the front row for the 13th consecutive race, but the race has only been won from 2nd on 4 occasions. As for Sebastian Vettel, he’ll be trying to match Fernando Alonso’s 2013 achievement of winning from Ferrari from below the front row – still the only dry race in the history of this circuit won from lower than 2nd (Alonso won from 5th). The German has started in the top-4 at all 5 races this season, compared to Ferrari’s 3 top-4 starts in all of 2014. 3 – Valtteri Bottas starts 4th, his best qualifying of 2015, and matching his performance here from last year. Behind him were the sensational Toro Rossos, a team who had never previously scored a top-10 start on this circuit. Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen put both their cars in the top-6 at the same race for the first time since Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais did so at the 2008 Italian GP – a race Vettel went on to win. For Sainz, 5th place was the best by any Spanish driver not named Fernando Alonso since Pedro de la Rosa was 4th on the grid at the 2006 Hungarian GP. Sainz managed this despite being slower than every other car on the straight except Marussia’s Roberto Merhi. 4 – Kimi Raikkonen’s 7th on the grid was his worst performance on this track since 2009, while Daniil Kvyat made Q3 for only the 2nd time all season. Felipe Massa kept up a remarkable run of 9th place qualifying performances in Catalunya. This is the 3rd consecutive year in which he has started from that position, and the 4th time in the last 6 years! Daniel Ricciardo also has his worst start of 2015 down in 10th place. 5 – Romain Grosjean missed Q3 for the first time in 2015, with Pastor Maldonado only 0.075s behind, as the Venezuelan claimed his best start on this track since winning from pole in 2012. Lotus were also 2nd and 3rd in the speed traps. Behind them, both Mclarens got into Q2 for the first time this year, but 13th on the grid is Fernando Alonso’s worst performance in Spanish GP qualifying since he was 18th on the grid for Minardi as a rookie in 2001. Conversely, Jenson Button is in the same position for Mclaren-Honda (14th) as he managed for Mclaren-Mercedes only 2 years ago. 6 – Force India had a nightmare session, as both cars were eliminated in Q1 for the first time since the 2009 Abu Dhabi GP. Marussia were arguably even worse, as Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were 19th and 20th for F1 – but if they’d set these times in the GP2 qualifying session they would have been even lower (22nd and 26th). 23 GPWEEK.com // 23 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> SPAIN PARTNERS: