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Qualifying highlights - Spain 2014 - The fight is on at Mercedes as pole position is decided

Published by Christine

Vettel on Saturday in Spain
Credit: Dan Istitene/Getty

The Mercedes battle upfront is heating up, as the tension in Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton's relationship starts to show. There were no doubts that one or other of them would be in line for pole position in Spain, and so it was. Behind them, a great battle ensued, with drivers running wide, two red flag periods, and a couple of star turns in the top ten.

If you missed any of the qualifying session, or want a quick recap to set you up for the racing action tomorrow, the Factbyte Factbox replay will guide you through the start-stop action from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

As it happened: Spain 2014 - Qualifying

Event Highlights

  • Maldonado crashes and brings out the red flag during the first five minutes of Q1.
  • Sutil drops out with the expected four in qualifying.
  • Magnussen's McLaren develops a power unit problem, halting his progress in Q2.
  • Vergne doesn't set a time in Q2, and faces a ten place grid penalty.
  • Vettel stops out on track within five minutes of Q3, bringing out the red flag.
  • Hamilton snatches pole position from Rosberg, with Ricciardo third.
  • Bottas and Grosjean surprise with fourth and fifth respectively.
  • 12:31

    Hello F1 friends, how have you been? It's an age since we were last here, discussing the Chinese Grand Prix. Three weeks on and F1 is back in Europe, motorhomes everywhere, and a qualifying session awaiting us!

  • 12:32

    So far, Mercedes have dominated all the practice sessions which should come as no surprise to anyone. Lewis Hamilton scooped both fastest times on Friday, with Nico Rosberg moving ahead in final practice this morning.

  • 12:33

    Meanwhile, Jean-Éric Vergne has a ten place grid penalty through no fault of his own. Toro Rosso were fined for an unsafe release after one of the rear tyres flew off the car on Friday. The grid penalty also resulted.

  • 12:35
    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1L Hamilton1:27.023
    Free Practice 2L Hamilton1:25.524
    Free Practice 3N Rosberg1:25.887
  • 12:38

    Caterham have chosen midway through a race weekend to confirm that they're reshuffling the technical department. Mark Smith is gone as technical director, to be replaced by three people sharing many of the technical roles between them. A so-called committee, and we all know how successful it is getting committees to sort things out.

  • 12:39

    Sauber have reportedly ditched 15kg from their car, but some were suggesting it looked hard to control during practice. It's good they're sorting out the weight problem after Sutil's admission to crash diets.

  • 12:42

    Claire Williams has made at least one fan happy today, presenting Felipe Massa's son with a very special t-shirt.

  • 12:46

    QuoteÉric Boullier: "I've been very warmly welcomed by everybody in McLaren. Obviously it's a prestigious organisation, now we're on the way to bringing it back to the top of the field, where we want to be, where we have to be and where we will be.

    "It's true that you have cycles in Formula One. If you remember, some team may win for a few years and then start to lose. You always have to question yourself, how we can be better, where any weaknesses may be. My job is also to look to the future and see where we can lead the organisation in terms of efficiency... For sure, we have picked up some pace now, it may not be obvious for other people, but we did. We are picking up performance massively in every department."

  • 12:51

    Only two teams have seen one driver dominate the other in all four qualifying sessions so far this year. Romain Grosjean has beaten Pastor Maldonado 4-0, and Kamui Kobayashi has led Marcus Ericsson with a similar margin. It's more equal at McLaren and Sauber, with two apiece.

  • 12:53

    Max Chilton has found himself struggling a little so far this weekend. He finished both FP2 and FP3 in the gravel, after locking up at the preceding corner. The Marussia driver has made a name for himself for consistent finishes, but this could be a rocky weekend for him.

  • 12:57

    Weather icon

    Wind speed2.3mps
  • 12:57

    It's nice and dry in Barcelona, the second time we've had a dry qualifying this season. It should be a good chance to see real pace from the drivers today.

  • 12:58

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: We're moments away from quali action here @Circuitcat_eng! Are you ready? Let's do this! #NoSpainNoGain

  • 12:59

    The qualifying is set to begin in just a minute or two, drivers are climbing into their cars, getting settled and in the zone.

  • 13:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 13:00

    The session begins and no one is waiting to head out on track. A Sauber power unit fires up and it is Esteban Gutiérrez who exits the pit lane on the harder tyres.

  • 13:02

    Sutil joins his teammate out on track, as Esteban crosses the line to start the first flying lap of the session.

  • 13:02

    Two Force India drivers exit the pit lane as well as both the Lotus drivers - Grosjean looking to get into the top ten after achieving that for the first time in China. Maldonado looking for, anything really, after being unable to qualify last time out.

  • 13:04

    Oh no! Talking of Maldonado, he's crashed!

  • 13:04

    Red flagSession stopped as the Lotus sits off track, one wheel hanging off.

  • 13:05

    That's an FBFB curse, right there. Sorry Maldo.

  • 13:06
    Maldonado crashes

    Replays show the Venezuelan runs wide around the corner, gets up on the kerbs, attempts to correct and ends up in the wall. "I lost the car," he reports over the radio.

  • 13:06

    The clock has stopped at 13:31 as the marshals are just sitting on the wall, unable to recover the car. Maldonado watches on, frustrated.

  • 13:08
    Maldonado crashes

    The moment of collision. The marshals move into action now as the tractor arrives to haul the stricken Lotus away.

  • 13:09

    The car is lifted away, all the way across the track, which explains why we've got this lengthy red flag period rather than a quick yellow flag recovery.

  • 13:10

    The Lotus car is swinging every which way as the marshals struggle to control it through a narrow gap in the tyre barrier. Hard to control on the track and in the air alike.

  • 13:10

    TweetTweet from @CaterhamF1: Session will restart in around one minute

  • 13:11

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 13:11

    Caterham headed up quite the queue at the end of the pit lane as the session gets underway again. 13 minutes on the clock and only four times on the board. Hülkenberg leads the way, but it's only Force India and Sauber who have completed laps so far.

  • 13:14

    Rosberg posts an early benchmark with a 1:26.764. Hamilton backed out on his first lap of the day, as Bottas slips into second with a 1:28.

  • 13:16

    Replays show Ricciardo catching the back of the kerb and running wide, and another replay with Hamilton leaving the track and spending some time on the grass. That's why he backed off, but he's on the pace again now.

  • 13:16

    Vettel moves into second place, a full second of Rosberg's pace. Hamilton crosses the line four tenths down on his teammate.

  • 13:17

    Grosjean has returned to the pit lane, his lap time is six seconds off the pace after a mistake. He'll need to improve to get out of the bottom six.

  • 13:17

    The rest of the drop zone features Chilton, Sutil, Ericsson, Kobayashi and, of course, Maldonado.

  • 13:17

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: Also the two Saubers have decided to go for the softer compound in Q1.

  • 13:18

    Team radioTeam radio from Button: "Struggling to get the fronts working."

  • 13:18

    Button's first lap time saw him up to 11th. McLaren teammate Kevin Magnussen currently sits 14th.

  • 13:18

    Most of the cars have returned to the pit lane for a change of tyre and now we await the final flying laps.

  • 13:20

    Quiet out on track, as we focus on Nico Hülkenberg completing a lap. The German is 13th, with Sergio Pérez on the bubble in 16th.

  • 13:21
    Massa ready for more
    Credit: WilliamsRacing/Twitter

    Massa waits for the opportune moment in the garage, he's managed to secure the fourth fastest time so far, just a tenth off Sebastian Vettel.

  • 13:22

    Daniil Kvyat's done a pretty good job on his first stint, the Toro Rosso rookie sitting in sixth place. Times are dropping now though.

  • 13:23

    The drop zone features the anticipated backmarker four, and it's Sutil who is currently needing to improve. If he does, it'll drop one or other of the McLaren drivers into the bottom six.

  • 13:24

    Replays show Kimi Räikkönen locking up into turn one, put off by a Toro Rosso exiting slowly from the pit lane.

  • 13:24

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 13:25

    Sutil does improve to 16th, Button drops into the bottom six.

  • 13:26

    Button crosses the line to improve all the way up to ninth place. That puts Sutil back down and out of qualifying.

  • 13:26

    The top three in that session, then, Rosberg, Hamilton and Vettel.

  • 13:27
    Out in Q1
    17A SutilSauber
    18M ChiltonMarussia
    19J BianchiMarussia
    20M EricssonCaterham
    21K KobayashiCaterham
    DNQP MaldonadoLotus
  • 13:31

    A different perspective for the gap analysis, looking at the drivers dropping out. Chilton managed to pull out a bit of a gap on his teammate at the end there.

    Gap Analysis
  • 13:31

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: Good observation by @easonF1 - 0.5 separate P4 from P17. Massively bunched-up field!

  • 13:32

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 13:33

    Nico Hülkenberg heads out on to the track, the first driver to leave the garage for the second session.

  • 13:33

    Meanwhile, Magnussen sits in the car studying some paperwork as he tries to work out where to improve on his next lap.

  • 13:34

    Sergio Pérez joins his Force India teammate out on track, both are on the medium (softer) compounds.

  • 13:36

    The Force India is making a weird high pitched noise as it circles the track, doesn't seem to be a problem though, as Hülkenberg posts the first lap time of the session - 1:27.863.

  • 13:37

    The rest of the field start to filter out of the garage. Bottas begins his first flying lap, as Pérez slips into second behind his teammate.

  • 13:37

    A bit of a kerb-wobble for Bottas there, and a puff of dust off track, but he continues on unharmed.

  • 13:38

    Bottas improves as the lap unfolds, picking up time in the second and third sector, to cross the line one hundredth of a second faster than Bottas. Massa then sweeps through, knocking a tenth off for P1.

  • 13:39

    As more rubber goes down, the track is getting faster and faster. Kimi Räikkönen takes P1 now, as replays show him drifting his way round one of the corners on that last lap.

  • 13:39

    Rosberg crosses the line with a 1:26.0. Only the 1.4 seconds ahead of the Ferrari then.

  • 13:40

    Hülkenberg is unhappy with the car balance but after complaining vociferously for the last twenty minutes, they appear to have found a good "compromise."

  • 13:40

    Hamilton skipped into second there, with Sebastian Vettel managing third for Red Bull.

  • 13:41

    Romain Grosjean splits the Ferrari duo by slotting into fifth, with Alonso behind. They all drop down a place as Ricciardo jumps ahead of Vettel for third.

  • 13:41

    TweetTweet from @bbcf1: Did you know Nico Rosberg has never finished in the top-5 in Catalunya, despite taking pole for last year’s race?

  • 13:42

    Team radioTeam radio from Grosjean: "Very strange feeling through turn ten, under braking the car completely pulled to the left."

  • 13:43

    Kevin Magnussen is climbing out of the car, the McLaren tucked firmly back in the garage now. He's not set a time this session.

  • 13:43

    Vergne also hasn't set a time so far, and he'll be facing a ten place grid drop from wherever he qualifies.

  • 13:43

    Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo is also informed they won't be running again, but that's because they're happy with third place for now.

  • 13:44

    Only Felipe Massa and Nico Hülkenberg remain out on track at the moment, both are in the top ten but eighth and tenth respectively.

  • 13:45

    Vergne has climbed out of the car, he's down in 16th, which puts him on the last row of the grid.

  • 13:45

    Magnussen's car reportedly has a power unit issue, which isn't very specific, but is enough to keep him out of the session.

  • 13:47

    The drop zone, then, has Magnussen and Vergne, as well as Kvyat, Gutiérrez, Button and Pérez.

  • 13:47

    Bottas is sitting tenth, he's on a lap right now, hoping to improve.

  • 13:47

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 13:48

    Bottas does improve to eighth place, with Alonso and Hülkenberg behind him.

  • 13:49

    Alonso dropped down to tenth, worryingly, but only Pérez could have pushed him down and the Force India driver gives up on his final lap.

  • 13:49

    The fastest three in that session were Rosberg, Hamilton and Ricciardo - with a bonus mention for Massa in fourth.

  • 13:50
    Out in Q2
    11N HülkenbergForce India
    12S PérezForce India
    13D KvyatToro Rosso
    14E GutiérrezSauber
    15K MagnussenMcLaren
    16JE VergneToro Rosso
  • 13:50
    Qualifying Battle
    CaterhamQualified Ahead
    M Ericsson1
    K Kobayashi4
  • 13:51

    We discussed earlier the two teams that had qualifying battles at 4-0. Marcus Ericsson has stopped the trend at Caterham, but over at Lotus, Grosjean gets through to the top ten and makes it 5-0 over Pastor Maldonado.

  • 13:53

    QuoteKevin Magnussen: "I don't know yet, so we'll have to go back and find out. Something to do with the power unit, didn't have foot power. A shame because I think the team has made an improvement on the car this weekend, it would have been nice to show them the improvement. It didn't happen, so I'll have to try and show them tomorrow. It was there in Q1 as well, shame, but that's how it is."

  • 13:55

    QuoteMax Chilton: "Very happy. It's not easy where we are with the downforce we have to get a clean lap together, but when I do, I know I can do the job. I got two really clean laps, I think it's showing our updates, I know it's a small update, but it's working and we've pulled away from the Caterham. It was a strong qualifying from all of us but I'm really happy with my lap."

  • 13:55

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 13:56

    Nico Rosberg is the first driver out on track, a minute of silence before the Mercedes gets going. Lewis Hamilton follows his teammate out.

  • 13:58

    Two Williams drivers, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso all join the action out on track.

  • 13:58

    The two Red Bull drivers also head out for their first laps of the session, leaving just Grosjean and Räikkönen in the pit lane.

  • 13:58

    All eight cars out on track have the medium tyres bolted on.

  • 13:59

    Red flagSession stopped as Sebastian Vettel pulls to a halt just off track.

  • 13:59

    "I have no drive, I'm sorry," the defending champion says. His weekend goes from bad to worse.

  • 14:00

    8:10 on the clock as the session is halted for the Red Bull to be recovered. The marshals are immediately in action and the tractor moves in.

  • 14:01

    QuoteChristian Horner from the pit wall: "He lost second gear coming out of the pits, he thought it was something electrical. Unfortunately, after his exit from the pit lane, he's lost all drive into turn three, so potentially something mechanical."

  • 14:02

    Race controlSession will re-start at 15:03.

  • 14:02
    Vettel's car is cleared

    Lone Red Bull awaits recovery, as Vettel dashes back to the pit lane.

  • 14:03

    Green flagTrack is clear. Nico Rosberg awaits the restart at the end of the pit lane, as the session restarts.

  • 14:04

    Replays and radio messages show us that Vettel got in Hamilton's way, Lewis complained and Vettel apologised, but the Red Bull driver was distracted by many flashing warning lights. The stewards may look at that but I can't see any penalties being given out. It was the work of but a moment, and the red flag ruined all laps anyway.

  • 14:05

    So far, two Mercedes cars plus Alonso and Ricciardo have retaken the track.

  • 14:06

    Hamilton posts a 1:26.288, with Rosberg behind by three tenths.

  • 14:06

    Alonso wrestles his Ferrari across the line with a full second lost to the two Mercedes cars.

  • 14:07

    Ricciardo pushes the Ferrari down, with a 1:26.602 for third place.

  • 14:08

    Three minutes left on the clock, tyres bolted on those that have dived in for a racing stop, whilst those that have waited are now getting themselves ready.

  • 14:08

    Grosjean and Räikkönen both head out for their laps, with the Mercedes pair dashing in and out of the pit lane to continue their session.

  • 14:09

    Räikkönen rounds the final corner to start his first flying lap of the session. It's looking like a real handful, that Ferrari.

  • 14:11

    Squealing tyres as Kimi completes his lap, he pops up to fourth ahead of Alonso, who of course is on his own lap.

  • 14:11

    Hamilton is on an absolute flyer.

  • 14:11

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 14:11

    Rosberg moves up to P1, but only briefly as Hamilton crosses the line to take another tenth out of the pole position time.

  • 14:12

    Ricciardo is best of the rest in third, with Valtteri Bottas showing exceptional pace for fourth place. Alonso can't make any more headway, settling down in 7th place.

  • 14:12

    StopwatchPole position for Lewis Hamilton with a time of 1:25.232.

  • 14:14
    Qualifying Position
    1L HamiltonMercedes
    2N RosbergMercedes
    3D RicciardoRed Bull
    4V BottasWilliams
    5R GrosjeanLotus
    6K RäikkönenFerrari
    7F AlonsoFerrari
    8J ButtonMcLaren
    9F MassaWilliams
    10S VettelRed Bull
  • 14:14
    Gap Analysis
  • 14:15

    Felipe Massa studies the times very hard as the drivers head in to get weighed. He doesn't look too impressed.

  • 14:16

    Nico Rosberg also looks a bit perturbed, potentially wondering what more he can do, as he awaits the other two for the top three photo opportunity.

  • 14:18

    It's a tame pose from all three drivers, too. Hamilton tucked away behind his sunglasses, Rosberg fuming, only Ricciardo looked happy in third.

  • 14:19
    Qualifying Battle
    FerrariQualified Ahead
    K Räikkönen2
    F Alonso3
  • 14:20

    QuoteSebastian Vettel: "Left the garage and lost drive in second gear. Obviously it was clear there was a problem, but still had third gear and above so I thought I could manage the lap without second gear. Unfortunately by turn one, I lost all the other gears, so couldn't do much."

  • 14:28

    QuotePress conference quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "It’s been a tough day, Nico has been driving really well, through P3 and through qualifying. I didn’t know whether I’d be able to get it, at the end I just had to eke out absolutely everything from the car and more. I’ve come here this weekend, we didn’t know where everyone was going to be.

    "To see the development that’s gone on and the hard work that’s gone into the car to get it ready for this week is just, it inspires me. A really big thank you to the team. To have the kind of performance we have, I’ve never really known that before. Still, it’s really difficult out there, the track conditions are pretty poor. But I’m overwhelmed, I’m so happy to have had that."

  • 14:28

    QuotePress conference quotes - Nico Rosberg: "Very disappointed. I don’t particularly enjoy coming second to Lewis. In the end, it was a good lap from me, Lewis just did a better job. From that point of view, that’s the way it is. Anyways, it’s still all to play for tomorrow. Second place is only a little bit away from optimum, all it takes is a good start tomorrow and I’m in the lead again so that’s the good thing about it. That’s why it’s still all to play for."

  • 14:28

    QuotePress conference quotes - Daniel Ricciardo: "I think we, again, sort of best of the rest, but that’s not quite good enough. We’re still a second off. I thought my lap was not too bad, I was expecting a smaller gap than that. I think we’ve made some improvements but Mercedes have as well, so we would have liked to have closed that but we’ve still got some work ahead of us. On a positive note, we’re a clear third today, I think we had a pretty good buffer to P4, that’s not too bad but for sure we want to get closer to P2."

  • 14:30

    There was a bit of a moment during that press conference too. When Rosberg said he didn't like coming second to Lewis, Hamilton interjected something along the lines of: "I think we know that already." Rosberg has said it before this year, so was repeating himself, but ooh, the look Nico gave him. "I'm just answering the question," he said.

    This is how it begins, you know. It's all fun and games until one driver starts dominating the other.

  • 14:32

    TweetTweet from @f1elvis: One thing to consider, starts have been relatively inconsistent so far this year & it's a long run down to turn 1 here. It's not over yet.

  • 14:34

    QuoteValtteri Bottas: "It feels really nice, it was quite a tough weekend for me until qualifying. We made some big setup changes for qualifying and it really made a big difference. I’ve just got much more confidence in the car, got there in the end. We need to be happy for P4. Here, normally, it’s quite difficult to overtake, so it’s good to qualify well. It’s going to be close. Mercedes is unbeatable, Red Bull is really quick but after that it should be a good race."

  • 14:36
    Fastest three on Saturday

    @XPBImages: Pole for @LewisHamilton 2nd for @nico_rosberg 3rd for @danielricciardo for the #Barcelona #F1 #GP

  • 14:52

    We went into qualifying thinking perhaps Rosberg would be able to take pole position easily as Hamilton was struggling. Lewis snatched that P1 from his teammate, leaving Nico grasping at fresh air. The German needs to do something to stop Hamilton's domination tomorrow or the momentum will continue to slip away from him.

  • 14:52

    Grosjean and Bottas both did exceptional jobs today, particularly when compared with their teammates. Maldonado lines up at the back of the grid next to Kobayashi, which is a worrying grid row!

  • 14:53

    The mid field continues to be interesting. McLaren finally getting a step up on Force India, give or take the odd power unit failure. Plenty to look out for tomorrow as the Spanish Grand Prix gets underway. Do join me then!

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