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Qualifying from Spain - Formula 1 World Championship 2012

Published by Christine

Red Bull have done very well in qualifying over the past few years, and Sebastian Vettel will be coming off the back of the win in Bahrain. However, we've seen plenty of tweaks to all the cars, so that McLaren are looking hopeful that they can claw back some speed, and Ferrari are also keen to make significant progress. Don't count out Lotus either, with both drivers very confident after a good Friday in practice. Who are you predicting for pole position?

As it happened: 2012 Spain - Qualifying

  • 12:30

    Hello there, welcome to the Factbyte Factbox for qualifying in Spain. Nice to see you!

  • 12:31

    It looks marvellously sunny out there in Barcelona, as the teams make their final preparations ahead of qualifying.

  • 12:31

    The first session will get underway in just half an hour.

  • 12:31

    Sebastian Vettel finished on top in third practice this morning, just a tenth or so ahead of second place Pastor Maldonado. A Williams!

  • 12:32

    Two drivers struggling in FP3 were Grosjean who stopped out on track after two laps, and Glock who also stopped towards the end of the session.

  • 12:32

    TweetTweet from @Marussia_F1Team: Timo stopped for precautionary reasons & we have indeed identified a mechanical issue. Got his car back in gd time so we're fine for Qualy

  • 12:34

    The last few winners here at the Circuit de Catalunya include Vettel, Webber and Button, with Kimi Räikkönen taking victory in 2008.

  • 12:35
    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1Alonso1:24.430
    Free Practice 2Button1:23.399
    Free Practice 3Vettel1:23.168
  • 12:36

    Last year's pole position was Mark Webber with a 1:20.981.

  • 12:38

    This weekend, Pirelli have brought the soft and hard compounds - an entire step apart. Tyre degradation is expected to play quite a big part in the weekend.

  • 12:40

    Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa will have the benefit of home crowd support this weekend.

  • 12:43
    2012 Pole Positions
    1Lewis Hamilton2
    2Nico Rosberg1
    3Sebastian Vettel1
  • 12:43

    TweetTweet from @MyCaterhamF1: 20 minutes until Q1. The cars are having final preparations and the drivers have retreated to their rooms to prepare, away from the crowds

  • 12:45

    If you're gearing up to watch the qualifying today, do join the Sidepodcast comments:

  • 12:45

    And, you might find some live timing useful:

  • 12:47

    Romain Grosjean stands watching outside his garage as the team fire up the car ahead of qualifying. The French driver has a lot of work to do this afternoon after halted running this morning.

  • 12:51

    For a quick recap of the action from yesterday, I can recommend a 60 second catchup:

  • 12:52

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: We all hope that the updates will make our life easier this afternoon.

  • 12:54

    Interview with Christian Horner: "We know it's tight. It's probably eight or nine drivers vying for pole position this afternoon. You're going to have to look at it strategically as well for tomorrow's race. The variance between the hard and the soft is quite high here as well.

    "Mark has got a cold at the moment, he's in good shape, he had a good run yesterday. Obviously, both drivers are fine tuning their cars. It's going to be tough, the McLaren's look strong, I don't think Lotus showed their hand this morning the Sauber's look remarkably quick. It's really open going into this session."

  • 12:55



    Wind speed1.8mps
  • 12:57

    The first qualifying session is just moments away now. The crowds are filling the spectator areas nicely, umbrellas up - but for the sun, rather than the rain.

  • 12:57

    Those umbrellas show some particularly strong winds, the flags are flying perfectly straight out.

  • 12:58

    Hamilton takes a moment with his brother as he shrugs into his overalls and prepares for the session ahead.

  • 13:00

    Vettel perches on a sideboard in the Red Bull garage, earphones in, getting his head in the game.

  • 13:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 13:02

    There is absolutely nothing happening as the first three minutes of the session tick by. Drivers are climbing into their cars but no one is breaking cover.

  • 13:03

    The grandstands earlier looked empty, but the fans have packed in ahead of qualifying - particularly along the home straight.

  • 13:03

    Sauber are sporting the Chelsea football club stickers for the first time this weekend - or the first obvious time. No more mysterious blue related messages.

  • 13:04

    Paul di Resta is the first driver to leave the pitlane and hit the track, swiftly followed by Romain Grosjean.

  • 13:04

    Räikkönen follows the pair out.

  • 13:04

    McLaren are running a revised nose, higher than the previous one, but still managing to avoid the stepped nose situation. For now, at least.

  • 13:06

    More drivers are joining the session now, with Alonso heading out to a standing ovation. Mercedes, Toro Rosso, Sauber and more all send their drivers out.

  • 13:07

    In fact, the only drivers remaining in the garage are both from Red Bull, both from HRT, Massa, Maldonado and Petrov.

  • 13:07

    Paul di Resta comes to the end of his first flying lap, hideously held up by a Marussia in front of him. Grosjean instantly beats his time by more than half a second.

  • 13:07

    Kimi must have made a mistake somewhere on his lap, coming in three seconds off the pace of the other two.

  • 13:08

    Fernando Alonso drops the times considerably, hitting 1:24.326. Rosberg slips into second behind him.

  • 13:09

    Kimi completes his second lap with a much improved time, just behind Alonso. Pérez drops them all down, jumping to P1.

  • 13:09

    And then it is Hamilton's turn. The McLaren posts a 1:24.143 - we'll soon be down into the 1:23s.

  • 13:09

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: More beautiful weather in Barcelona as qualy begins. It's going to be very close once again. Q3 has to be the target.

  • 13:10

    As Alonso comes back into the pitlane after his first stint, just the two Red Bull drivers have yet to emerge.

  • 13:10

    Replays show both Paul di Resta and Sergio Pérez desperately trying to keep control as they run wide on their respective laps.

  • 13:12

    Nico Rosberg crosses the line for the eighth fastest time, and behind him, teammate Michael Schumacher improves to third.

  • 13:12

    Just under eight minutes of the session remaining.

  • 13:12

    Timo Glock abandons his hot lap and dives into the pit lane.

  • 13:13

    Pastor Maldonado jumps up to P1 with an impressive 1:23.380. He and Hamilton behind him are the two drivers in the 1:23s.

  • 13:16

    RadioTeam radio to Hamilton: "Everyone is going quicker than expected, we will have to go again on the option tyre."

    "We definitely have to go again?"

    "Judging by the time Maldonado has done, yes."

  • 13:16

    If you don't count the two Red Bull drivers, the drop zone features HRT, Marussia, Caterham, and Paul di Resta.

  • 13:17

    Webber and Vettel go third and fourth respectively. All drivers have now set times.

  • 13:17

    As it stands, Narain Karthikeyan sits outside the 107% time, about two seconds off it.

  • 13:18

    Romain Grosjean leaps up to P1, with a 1:23.248. The times are dropping rapidly.

  • 13:18

    Less than two minutes to go.

  • 13:18

    It looks like the two Sauber drivers are the only two to be on the hard compound, hoping they can do enough to get through without risking softs.

  • 13:19

    All drivers are out on track now, except Maldonado and Räikkönen, plus Karthikeyan, who will not qualify.

  • 13:19

    The drop zone features Senna, currently, but Vergne is right there in 17th. Can Senna improve enough to haul himself out?

  • 13:20

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 13:20

    Hamilton finishes the lap he is on, posting a 1:22.583 to go P1.

  • 13:21

    Hustling for the lap, Senna has spun out into the gravel. He sits in the car shaking his head, frustrated at himself.

  • 13:22

    Climbing out, Senna knows he was pushing too hard, hit the kerb and spun it off track. He'll drop out of Q1, allowing Vergne through to Q2.

  • 13:22
    Q1 Teammate Comparison
  • 13:23

    Senna in the gravelSenna hits the gravel and his qualifying is over.

  • 13:24
    Qualifying Position
    18Bruno SennaWilliams
    19Vitaly PetrovCaterham
    20Heikki KovalainenCaterham
    21Charles PicMarussia
    22Timo GlockMarussia
    23Pedro de la RosaHRT

    Narain KarthikeyanHRT
  • 13:26
    Qualifying Battle
    MarussiaQualified Ahead
    Timo Glock3
    Charles Pic2
  • 13:26
    Qualifying Battle
    CaterhamQualified Ahead
    Vitaly Petrov1
    Heikki Kovalainen4
  • 13:27

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 13:27

    Another quiet start to a session as the drivers sit in their cars and prepare for the next fifteen minutes.

  • 13:29

    Senna makes his way back to the garage, walking up the pitlane with his helmet resolutely on. His frustration is visible.

  • 13:30

    Kobayashi's engine fires up and he heads out onto the track first.

  • 13:30

    Senna walkIn Senna-watch, he gets back to the garage and discusses with his mechanics exactly what happened.

  • 13:31

    Twelve drivers now out on track as things start to get busy.

  • 13:31

    Kobayashi swings round the final corner to start his first lap of the session.

  • 13:32

    Both Lotus and Toro Rosso drivers remain in the garage for now. Maldonado has just left for his out-lap.

  • 13:33

    Kobayashi's first time is a 1:24.031. Hülkenberg and Di Resta fall in behind him. Pérez jumps in front.

  • 13:35

    RadioTeam radio from Button: "Still struggling with the rears under braking."

  • 13:35

    Button's radio traffic has been filled with complaints about understeer and a lack of grip throughout the entire weekend.

  • 13:36

    Hamilton has posted the fastest time of the session so far, but is out of the car and wandering through to the back of the garage.

  • 13:37

    The early runners have returned to the pits, with Räikkönen, Ricciardo, Grosjean and Vergne heading out for their attempts at a time.

  • 13:38

    Vergne jumps up to P3, with Kimi up to P2.

  • 13:39

    Romain follows his teammate across the line and posts a 1:22.667 for second place. Hamilton, out of the car, remember, has a 1:22.465.

  • 13:41

    Felipe Massa squeezes into 10th place but is immediately knocked out again.

  • 13:41

    Vettel has also been dropped out of the top ten, currently sitting 11th but on a lap.

  • 13:42

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 13:42

    RadioTeam radio from Button: "Any idea what Lewis is doing? Obviously he's put in some good laps but any idea what they've done with the setup."

  • 13:43

    Webber has dropped out of the top ten, and doesn't qualify. Jenson Button also falls down to 11th.

  • 13:43

    Button was still out on track but isn't on a hot lap, he knows it's a lost cause.

  • 13:44

    Kobayashi qualified ninth but his car has stopped out on track. He's out and walking back behind the barriers as the marshals deal with the stricken Sauber.

  • 13:45
    Qualifying Position
    11Jenson ButtonMcLaren
    12Mark WebberRed Bull
    13Paul di RestaForce India
    14Nico HülkenbergForce India
    15Jean-Éric VergneToro Rosso
    16Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso
    Felipe MassaFerrari
  • 13:45

    Jenson Button removes his helmet, studying the times carefully, but he looks very serious.

  • 13:45

    Fastest three in that session were Maldonado, Hamilton and then Grosjean.

  • 13:47

    Interview with Bruno Senna: "Very frustrated of course, but I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. On my first lap I was stuck behind Felipe... During the flying lap I was just too close to get a proper lap. Second flying lap I was nowhere, so not enough. I pushed a bit too hard, I tried to make the most out of that lap. It wasn't great but it wasn't terrible. The rear tyres gave up and it was too much."

  • 13:48

    Interview with Jenson Button: "All day I've struggled with the balance. Yesterday the car was fantastic. We were quickest on the soft tyre yesterday. I thought we'd be reasonably competitive today... just struggled with the balance. The car's been very different today, I don't know why that is.

    "All of qualifying I had a lot of oversteer, and then that final run, when we added more front end on the car, I had a lot of understeer. There you go, we're out in Q2. It doesn't really help as we don't have any option tyres left. All is good though, I think Lewis should easily get pole position. The speed's in the car, I don't know what was going on today with mine."

  • 13:50

    Sauber pushedKobayashi's car gets a push as the driver makes his way to the garage.

  • 13:50

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 13:51

    Sebastian Vettel heads out early and first, with the entire track to himself for now.

  • 13:52

    Vettel crosses the line for the start of his first lap this session, as Hamilton leaves the garage.

  • 13:52

    It's fair to say that Vettel doesn't look to be pushing for a fast lap right now. He's setting a time but it's not going to be fast.

  • 13:53

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: #Kamui has a hydraulic problem - end of his Quali. P10 probably. shame, but full of confidence that he will attack 2morrow for glory!

  • 13:53

    Vettel abandons that lap, returns to the pit lane and is pushed into the garage. Is he going to attempt a time later or was that his only appearance?

  • 13:54

    Meanwhile, Hamilton is setting a time - a proper one. 1:22.560.

  • 13:55

    Schumacher went out for a non-lap on the harder compound. Now Rosberg is out on track with the options on.

  • 13:56

    This is the oddest top ten shootout I've ever seen. Just over three minutes remaining, one time on the board, one car on track.

  • 13:57

    Now the cars begin to filter out, Fernando, Kimi, Romain and Sergio all on track.

  • 13:58

    RadioTeam radio from Hamilton: "I was pleasantly surprised by the grip I had then given the tyres."

  • 13:58

    Eight cars out on track, including Vettel. Just Schumacher remains in the garage, whilst Kobayashi cannot take part.

  • 13:59

    Rosberg has returned to the garage. He's currently sitting second, but quicker laps are coming.

  • 14:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 14:00

    Fernando Alonso crosses the line for P1, and Kimi behind him cannot beat it. P2 for the Finn.

  • 14:00

    Pérez slips into third place.

  • 14:01

    Grosjean slips into P2, Maldonado crosses the line for a shocking P1 but is pushed down by Hamilton.

  • 14:01

    Lewis Hamilton gets pole position, but it is the surprise of Pastor Maldonado alongside him on the front row that will get headlines.

  • 14:02

    Hamilton has stopped out on track, opposite fans who are not necessarily cheering him on.

  • 14:03

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: P6 for #Checo! well done. he is asking for the gaps to P5 and P4 - very, very close is the answer of his race engineer.

  • 14:04
    Qualifying Position
    1Lewis HamiltonMcLaren
    2Pastor MaldonadoWilliams
    3Fernando AlonsoFerrari
    4Romain GrosjeanLotus
    5Kimi RäikkönenLotus
    6Sergio PérezSauber
    Nico RosbergMercedes
    Sebastian VettelRed Bull
    Michael SchumacherMercedes
    Kamui KobayashiSauber
  • 14:06

    Interview with Martin Whitmarsh, explaining why Hamilton stopped: "A technical problem on the car, we've got to understand. It's a little bit of a worry but great drive by Lewis. He did everything right so we just have to figure out what the issue is on the car."

    "I know Jenson was quickest yesterday but it is very difficult... Between Jenson and his engineers, we've got to try and get that right. But Lewis and his guys did a great job."

  • 14:08

    Interview with Mark Webber: "Ultimately, I think the first lap in Q2 was very good, very competitive. Lulled us into a false sense of security that we'd done enough. The team were happy with the lap, they said don't go again... the track kept coming, people kept improving.

    "I thought with about 50 seconds to go, but then it's too late, you're committed. I was happy with how I drove, very happy with my lap. I've done races at the front here, fantastic. I've done races in the middle of the field, it sucks."

  • 14:09

    Hamilton is so fast that my gap analysis is a little wonky.

    Gap Analysis
  • 14:11

    Interview with Vettel: "We decided to come in, to abort the lap, to have a free choice of tyres tomorrow. If I'd finished the lap we would have had to start on soft tyres... We didn't have the speed in the car, we felt happy all the way to qualifying but straight from the first session, struggling to find the same balance that I had before. Q2 was the first run I didn't manage to pull one out that was fast enough for Q3, so we had to again. Therefore it was clear we didn't have a shot in Q3. All in all, we have to respect the fact we weren't quick enough."

  • 14:12
    Qualifying Battle
    WilliamsQualified Ahead
    Pastor Maldonado4
    Bruno Senna
  • 14:14

    TweetTweet from @NobleF1: Lewis Hamilton takes McLaren's 150th pole position

  • 14:15

    That was a bizarre qualifying session, with drivers dropping out earlier than expected, some not doing laps when they should have, and others (well, just one) jumping up to the front row and surprising everyone.

  • 14:16

    You have to wonder how long Maldonado will be able to hang on to his position tomorrow once the racing gets underway but it's good to see Williams make the most of perfect qualifying conditions.

  • 14:17

    Webber has already said fighting through the field at this track can be difficult, and we have both him and Jenson Button to watch attempt it tomorrow.

  • 14:17

    Lewis Hamilton starts from pole position, his third of the season - can he turn this one into victory?

  • 14:18

    Join me tomorrow for all the action, and enjoy the rest of the day!

All content in the series Spain 2012

Red Bull have done very well in qualifying over the past few years, and Sebastian Vettel will be coming off the back of the win in Bahrain. However, we've seen plenty of tweaks to all the cars, so that McLaren are looking hopeful that they can claw back some speed, and Ferrari are also keen to make significant progress. Don't count out Lotus either, with both drivers very confident after a good Friday in practice. Who are you predicting for pole position?
Marussia F1 Team

Event start

13:00GMT +01:00

12 May 2012