Qualifying

Welcome to ESPN's coverage of qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix. FP3 was a close fight between Ferrari and Mercedes and now the question is whether that was because Ferrari's upgrades have worked or because Mercedes was holding a bit of performance back.

Within that battle there is also the Rosberg v Hamilton rivalry, with Rosberg beating Hamilton in two of the three practice sessions so far this weekend. Hamilton had a high-speed spin in FP3, but will no doubt up his game for qualifying.

Just ten minutes to go until the start of qualifying. The sun is still shining bright in Barcelona and the track appears to be offering up a bit more grip today. However, don't expect to see times as low as they were in pre-season testing when Rosberg used the soft tyres to set a time in the 1:22s.

Further down the grid the question is whether McLaren can make it into the top ten. There have been signs of another decent improvement this weekend, but I'm not convinced it will be enough for a Q3 spot without mistakes from others.

Red Bull also appear to have made a step aerodynamically, but have limited running for both cars in order to try to save the engines. They may have a little more to offer in qualifying, which could in turn cause a headache for Williams.

Riku asks: "Is it true that Vettel is using the new upgrades, but Kimi opted for the Bahrain configuration?"

That's what they were using in FP3. Kimi had the new sidepod package on Friday but didn't get on with it. He is using the upgraded rear wing and a few of the other bits however.

The session is green. 18 minutes of qualifying in this session to decide who will make up the bottom five places on the grid.

Merhi heads out first in the Manor. Manor aren't having much trouble making 107% any more but they are still a long way from the rest of the pack. No firm news on when the new car will come even though the team was aiming for after the summer break.

The track temperature is 45C. About 20C hotter than in FP3.

Rosberg runs wide at Turn 13 on his first run on hard tyres.

Raikkonen starts his flying lap. And I can confirm he is running the old spec sidepods for this race. I say race, because once you have made changes for qualifying you can't change them between now and the race.

Hamilton has set the benchmark with a 1:27.322 on hard tyres. Rosberg is second with a 1:27.577. Both times on hard tyres, will they have to use mediums?

Dave Greenwood apologises to Kimi about the traffic. Kimi replies: "Yes, not ideal. I also have no grip at the rear". Not a happy Ferrari driver.

But Raikkonen isn't alone, as Hamilton reports: "No grip out here". It's possible the higher track temps are taking the tyres out of their operating range.

Vettel is currently 0.6s off Hamilton and 0.3s off Rosberg.

Alonso goes fifth but had to use the medium tyres to set that time. A 1:27.941 for the McLaren driver , 0.2s ahead of team-mate Button.

Hamilton is heading out again for another run but is still on the hard tyres.

Massa showing some good signs in the Williams with the fourth fastest time just 0.004s off Vettel and on the same hard tyre compound.

Vettel has gone back out on hard tyres, Raikkonen is going out on mediums. Not just the bodywork that is different on those two cars, it's the qualifying tyre strategy as well.

Kvyat is going back out on mediums. Seems like it is only Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel who are confident enough to use the hards for their second attempt in this Q1 session.

Hamilton improves to a 1:26.382. A good lap on hard tyres.

Raikkonen gets within 0.255s of Hamilton but he was on the hards. Big advantage for Mercedes here by the looks of it.

Vettel also improves on his second lap on the hard tyres, but it's still 1.152s off Hamilton. Rosberg goes 0.108s off his team-mate.

Merhi is still in the pits so will start last.

Kvyat gets himself out of trouble as does Grosjean.

Hulkenberg gets knocked out along with Perez. Button makes himelf safe as Ericsson drops out in Q1.

Alonso just sneaks through, 0.2s ahead of the Sauber of Ericcson. Button managed 13th so both McLarens are in Q2.

Button was faster than Kvyat and only 0.202s off Ricciardo, so Red Bull are not performing as well as I'd expected at this stage. McLaren will enjoy reading that, however.

Pirelli confirms that just Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel got through Q1 without using the faster medium-compound tyres.

Q2 is green. Red Bull under pressure to make Q3 judging by Q1.

Nasr is the first out. There's no point in messing about on hard tyres anymore, straight on to the mediums.

Hamilton told: "All we are looking for is a nice clean lap". The tyres he uses in this session are the ones he starts the race on, so perhaps that's a reference to that.

Hamilton sets the fastest first sector as he gets his Q2 lap underway.

Bottas sets a 1:26.197 to go top for a brief moment before Hamilton betters him with a 1:25.740

Raikkonen slots in between the two with a 1:26.016.

Rosberg sets a 1:25.166. That's 0.6s faster than Hamilton, but he was told to take it relatively easy. Don't forget that in Bahrain Rosberg looked after his tyres in Q2 and then got out of rhythm and was pipped by Vettel to the front row.

Different drivers require different approaches.

Raikkonen's time was 0.1s quicker than Vettel in that session and roughly a second within the cut off for Q3. That should be enough, but you can never be sure.

Alonso is 11th but over 0.7s off the top 10 and the Red Bull of Kvyat.

Both Lotus drivers were slower than they were in Q1. I expect that is because they reused their mediums from Q1. Expect to see them go quicker on their second runs and trouble the others in the top 10.

Alonso, Button, Maldonado and Nasr all head out for another run.

The two Mercedes, the two Ferraris and Bottas remain in the garage and will not set a second time in this session.

Big slide for Alonso through Turn 7. Not ideal and he drops time in the middle sector.

Massa has the fastest first sector of all as he aims to improve.

Maldonado fails to make Q3 but takes 11th from Alonso who drops to 12th.

Grosjean also fails to make the top 10 in the second Lotus and takes 11th from Maldonado. That drops the McLarens to 13th and 14th.

Grosjean had a very scrappy final sector and in the end was 0.5s shy of Kvyat in 10th.

Massa managed a 1:26.147, which split the two Ferraris.

The track goes green for the third and final time. Time for the top-ten shootout.

Away they go. Most drivers will do two runs in this session. The two Mercedes and Vettel have two sets of medium tyres to use in this session.

Bottas gets very wide and wild exiting Turn 9. That won't help his lap time.

Bottas still manages a 1:25.880.

Hamilton sets a 1:24.948, Vettel can only manage a 1:25.458.

Rosberg takes provisional pole position with a 1:24.681, 0.25s quicker than Hamilton and by far the fastest lap of the weekend so far.

The cars are back in the pits for fresh tyres and a few minor adjustments.

Hamilton heads out earlier than his team-mate. Rosberg joins the pit lane behind Massa and Sainz, so he will need to find some space. Either way, Hamilton will set his time first and Rosberg will know at some point on his flying lap whether he has to beat it.

Raikkonen starts his flying lap on a new set of medium tyres. He's 0.330s down in sector 1. But it is a personal best. The car gets away from him entering Turn 7. He also runs a tad wide of the apex at Turn 10.

Hamilton is not looking that fast through the middle sector and will struggle to beat Rosberg here.

Hamilton does not improve, so Rosberg takes pole.

Vettel also doesn't beat Rosberg and has to settle for third. Rosberg completes his final lap, doesn't improve, but it doesn't matter.

Raikkonen falls behind the Williams and both Toro Rossos. He will start in seventh after that messy final lap. Very disappointing.

Sainz is easily the highest-placed Spaniard at his home race in fifth.

More disappointment for Massa as he finishes the session down in ninth, splitting the Red Bulls.

What a race we have lined up for tomorrow as Rosberg finally gets ahead of Hamilton for the first time in qualifying this year.

As always, we will bring you live coverage of the race as well as all the reaction from today's coverage later today. Keep checking back to make sure you don't miss a thing.