- Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying
Rosberg leads Mercedes lock-out at BarcelonaChris Medland in Barcelona May 11, 2013
Nico Rosberg took his second consecutive pole position as Mercedes locked out the front row for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Rosberg provided the benchmark with a time 0.4s quicker than the others to do an initial run in Q3. He then lowered it and Hamilton couldn't match it, but was still able to secure the team's first front-row lock-out since its return to the sport. Sebastian Vettel took third place but was over 0.3s slower than Rosberg's time, while Kimi Raikkonen joins him on the second row.
It would have been an all-Ferrari third row as Fernando Alonso could only qualify fifth ahead of Felipe Massa, with Romain Grosjean seventh, Mark Webber eighth, Sergio Perez ninth and Paul di Resta in tenth. However, Massa was penalised after replays showed him impeding Webber at Turn 12, with the stewards giving him a three-place grid penalty for the incident after qualifying, dropping him to ninth.
With all the drivers opting to run medium tyres from the start of Q2, marked improvements were made on the second runs and Hamilton needed his final lap to get out of the drop zone. He did it with some aplomb, going fastest by 0.6s, but the woes continued at his old team as Jenson Button dropped out in 14th place while team-mate Perez beat him by over half a second.
Daniel Ricciardo was the man to drop out in 11th ahead of team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne, while Adrian Sutil was well beaten by di Resta as he failed to make it out of Q2 in 13th place.
The first part of qualifying saw some interesting tyre strategies as both Mercedes and Red Bulls opted to run the medium tyre, but Ferrari and Lotus was fast on the hards. It was a case of three teams dropping out as both Williams faltered in Q1 - Valtteri Bottas beating team-mate Pastor Maldonado - while Giedo van der Garde put Caterham ahead of the two Marussias.
There were a few incidents at the final chicane where drivers were also investigated by the stewards for blocking. Maldonado appeared to hold up Button slightly, but Esteban Gutierrez was much more blatant in backing off to find a gap and only succeeding in baulking the flying Raikkonen, resulting in Gutierrez being dropped from 16th to 19th on the grid.
Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1