Spanish GP Qualifying Report

Lewis Hamilton took Pole Position for the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix with his eyes firmly set on a 4th
successive win and taking the championship lead from his german team mate Nico Rosberg. Rosberg is four points clear of Hamilton but has finished runner-up in the last three races, qualified second with Daniel Ricciardo starting third for Red Bull.

Hamilton, celebrates his fourth pole of the season and the 35th of his career with a time 0.168 seconds quicker than Nico Rosberg will at last take the championship lead from Rosberg if he wins for his first time at the Circuit de Catalunya. A track that has proved to be a bit of a bogey circuit for him in past years.

Lewis said “It’s been a tough day. Nico has been driving really well through P3 and Qualifying, so I didn’t know if I could get it. At the end, I had to eek out everything and more from the car,” said Hamilton, who had been slower than Rosberg in FP3. "Coming here this weekend, I didn’t know where everyone would be. But I see the development and work that has gone on to get the car ready and it inspires me. A big thank you to the team. To have the kind of performance we have, I have never really known that before. I’m overwhelmed, so happy,”  

Rosberg said, “Very disappointing, yes. I don’t particularly enjoy coming second to Lewis. In the end itwas a good lap. Lewis just did a better job. It’s still all to play for tomorrow. Second is only a little away from optimum. All it takes is a good start tomorrow and I’m in the lead again and it’s still all to play for.”

Ricciardo, starting third and winning the 'best of the rest' category, said afterwards, “I think we did OK today but it’s not quite good enough. We’re a second off – I expected a closer gap than that. We’ve made improvements this weekend but so have Mercedes. We’re a clear third today and that’s not bad but we want to be closer to the top two.”

Bottas starts in a fantastic fourth place for Williams who are now starting to show some of their pre-season potential, and had this to say  “It feels really nice, it was quite a tough weekend until Qualifying. We made some big set up changes for Quali, and it really made a big difference. I had much more confidence in the car. I’m happy with P4. Here it’s difficult to overtake, so I’m looking forward to it. Mercedes are unbeatable, Red Bull look quick but after that it should be a good race.”

Romain Grosjean qualified a very solid fifth for Lotus who have had a terrible start to the season. With his team mates continued struggles he really is asserting his authority as team leader.

Last years winner Fernando Alonso qualified seventh and behind team mate Kimi Raikkonen. although he is not expecting a repeat of his amazing win in front of his adoring home crowd 12 months ago, “It will be a tough race – we have been fighting all weekend. We have low grip, but it has been the same for everyone. We didn’t manage to get some comfort in the car. Starting from seventh is not easy but hopefully tomorrow we can recover some places. The rear end we have made four, five or six set-up changes this weekend and we need to be in a position to have a solid rear end and get the confidence back,”  

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel will line up in 15th place on the grid after stopping on track in Q3. He was switched to a different chassis for the start of the European season after a difficult opening four races with the aim of giving him a 'mental re-set' and a bit of a confidence boost but his luck has, if anything, got worse after his troubles yesterday (where he completed four laps in practice and the team couldn't fix the car so he sat out the afternoon session too!) To compound these problems he has now been handed a 5 place grid drop by the FIA for having to change his gearbox due to his qualifying stoppage. He said "I left the garage and lost second gear,” he said. “It was clear there was a problem but I still had third gear and above so I thought I’d try without second gear. But by Turn One, I’d lost all the other gears. It was a tricky day today, the track is very slippery out there. It’s very close after Mercedes, I think I needed more and more laps. I was getting in a rhythm and I thought I could be shooting for P3. I think we have that in the car, but [we] never got that far,”

McLaren, without a point from the last two races, also had problems with Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen unable to set a lap time in the second phase due to a power unit problem and qualifying 15th. Team mate Jenson Button will start eighth.

Qualifying was red flagged twice, the second stoppage triggered by Vettel’s failure and the first coming right at the start of Q1 when Pastor Maldonado managed to go off onto the astro turf, unsettling the car sending him straight into the barriers.

Maldonado will now start at the very back, just behind Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne who has a 10 place penalty after an unsafe release from the pits on Friday.

Full Results:
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:27.2381:26.2101:25.232
26Nico RosbergMercedes1:26.7641:26.0881:25.400
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault1:28.0531:26.6131:26.285
477Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1:28.1981:27.5631:26.632
58Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:28.4721:27.2581:26.960
67Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:28.3081:27.3351:27.104
714Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:28.3291:27.6021:27.140
822Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:28.2791:27.5701:27.335
919Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1:28.0611:27.0161:27.402
101Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:27.9581:27.052
1127Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1:28.1551:27.685
1211Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1:28.4691:28.002
1326Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault1:28.0741:28.039
1421Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1:28.3741:28.280
1520Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1:28.389
1625Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault1:28.194
1799Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1:28.563
184Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari1:29.586
1917Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari1:30.177
209Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault1:30.312
2110Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1:30.375
2213Pastor MaldonadoLotus-RenaultNo time