F1: Rosberg leads Mercedes front row sweep

    Rosberg repeated his Bahrain pole in a brilliant Q3 performance in which he delivered two laps good enough for the top spot.

    Published On May 12, 2013 12:41:00 AM

    F1: Rosberg leads Mercedes front row sweep

    Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton secured an all-Mercedes front row in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

    Rosberg repeated his Bahrain pole in a brilliant Q3 performance in which he delivered two laps good enough for the top spot.

    His initial 1m20.8s benchmark proved unbeatable, but Rosberg still improved to a 1m20.718s with his last run just to be certain.

    Hamilton had to settle for second, 0.254 seconds adrift.

    Formula 1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus and Fernando Alonso's Ferrari.

    Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa mounted a strong challenge for pole only to lose time in sector three and end up sixth.

    He will also have to see the stewards after the session having seemingly impeded Mark Webber's Red Bull in Q2.

    The Australian subsequently qualified eighth, behind Romain Grosjean's Lotus.

    Hamilton had earlier starred in a thrilling end to Q2, throwing in a last-gasp lap that jumped him from a worrying 13th to a comfortable first, six tenths clear of the pack.

    Sergio Perez also produced an eleventh-hour surge in Q2, getting up to seventh and then qualifying ninth. His McLaren team-mate Jenson Button could not match that - six tenths slower, he will start only 14th.

    Toro Rosso had looked promising in practice and both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne had a realistic shot at Q3, holding top-10 spots late on before being narrowly squeezed out.

    They will share row six, ahead of Adrian Sutil, who could not join team-mate Paul di Resta in the pole session. The Scot took 10th.

    Going into the final seconds of Q2, both Saubers had made it into Q3. But in the subsequent flurry of improvements, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez tumbled down to row eight. The Mexican could yet face sanctions for blocking Raikkonen in Q1.

    Last year's winner Williams's plight deepened, despite its upgrades, as neither car got beyond Q1.

    Twelve months on from his pole and win, Pastor Maldonado was only 18th - and accused of blocking by Button - while Valtteri Bottas was just one place ahead.

    The back of the grid battle stepped up a gear with a very close tussle between Caterham and Marussia.

    Giedo van der Garde finally emerged on top for Caterham, edging out Marussia's Jules Bianchi by just 0.052s.

    Max Chilton and Charles Pic were a few tenths behind having also had a sniff of 'class pole'.

    
    Pos Driver                Team/Car              Time      Gap
     1. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m20.718s
     2. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes              1m20.972s  + 0.254s
     3. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m21.054s  + 0.336s
     4. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1m21.177s  + 0.459s
     5. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m21.218s  + 0.500s
     6. Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m21.219s  + 0.501s
     7. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1m21.308s  + 0.590s
     8. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m21.570s  + 0.852s
     9. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes      1m22.069s  + 1.351s
    10. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1m22.233s  + 1.515s
    Q2 cut-off time: 1m22.019s                                       Gap **
    11. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m22.127s  + 1.126s
    12. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m22.166s  + 1.165s
    13. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1m22.346s  + 1.345s
    14. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m23.166s  + 2.165s
    15. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari        1m22.389s  + 1.388s
    16. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari        1m22.793s  + 1.792s
    Q1 cut-off time: 1m23.218s                                       Gap *
    17. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault      1m23.260s  + 1.532s
    18. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1m23.318s  + 1.590s
    19. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault      1m24.661s  + 2.933s
    20. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth     1m24.713s  + 2.985s
    21. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth     1m24.996s  + 3.268s
    22. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault      1m25.070s  + 3.342s
    
    107% time: 1m27.448s
    * Gap to quickest in Q1
    ** Gap to quickest in Q2

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