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GP Week : Issue 182
After another strong showing from Ferrari on Saturday morning, it looked as though qualifying would be a straight fight between the Scuderia and Red Bull. How wrong we were. The first half of Q1 was dominated by the mid-field and backmarkers, with Lotus the only front-running team to send their drivers out. Kimi Raikkonen topped the timesheets early on, but was displaced by local hero Fernando Alonso. Ferrari’s signs of pace were further cemented by Felipe Massa’s first timed lap, which saw the Brazilian in P2, two-tenths behind his teammate. Nico Rosberg brought about a premature end to the Ferrari party, besting Alonso’s time by three-tenths, before Lewis Hamilton shaved a further two-tenths off his teammate’s time and claimed the top slot. Sebastian Vettel’s first flyer slotted the German in between Rosberg and Alonso. Towards the back of the pack, it was Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez who were in the dropout zone with two minutes remaining, with Valtteri Bottas, Paul di Resta, and Pastor Maldonado hovering on the edge. The Hulk saved himself in the final minute, as did di Resta, and it was the Williams two who were left out in the cold. Lotus, Ferrari, and Mercedes all gave a strong showing in Q2, while Red Bull were remarkably off the pace at first. With just over 90 seconds before the chequered flag, Vettel pulled out a trademark timesheet-topping laps, with Mark Webber a tenth slower. The final minute of Q2 was chaos on the timesheets, with drivers moving up and down the order at lightning speed. Lewis Hamilton was the most dramatic, leaping from the middle of the dropout zone to P1 with a six-tenths lead as the flag was falling. Sergio Perez also made great strides, going from elimination to P7 as teammate Jenson Button languished in P14. The Top 10 shootout saw a mix of strategies from the teams, with the pitlane split on whether it was best to set an early banker and potentially waste rubber, or pin all of their hopes on one last-second flying lap. Ferrari and Lotus sent out both of their drivers for multiple runs, while Red Bull, McLaren, and Force India chose the one-lap strategy. At Mercedes, tactics were divided – Rosberg claimed provisional pole with an early banker, while Hamilton went for a single flyer. The split strategy netted the Silver Arrows a front row lock-out. SILVER SURPRISE QUALIFYING 1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1m20.718s 2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1m20.972s 3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1m21.054s 4. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 1m21.177s 5. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1m21.218s 6. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 1m21.308s 7. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1m21.570s 8. Sergio Perez (McLaren) 1m22.069s 9. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1m21.219s 10. Paul di Resta (Force India) 1m22.233s 11. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) 1m22.127s 12. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) 1m22.166s 13. Adrian Sutil (Force India) 1m22.346s 14. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1m22.355s 15. Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber) 1m22.389s 16. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1m23.260s 17. Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 1m23.318s 18. Giedo van der Garde (Caterham) 1m24.661s 19. Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) 1m22.793s 20. Jules Bianchi (Marussia) 1m24.713s 21. Max Chilton (Marussia) 1m24.996s 22. Charles Pic (Caterham) 1m25.070s 19 GPWEEK.com // 19 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> BARCELONA