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Spain 2013 - Qualifying highlights - An unpredictable F1 session at the Circuit de Catalunya

Published by Christine

Mercedes showed their true pace on Saturday
Credit: Daimler AG

From the track that all the teams claim to know so well, we had a surprising hour of qualifying. McLaren's updates left at least one of their team wanting, whilst the Mercedes duo had a strong showing.

Williams couldn't repeat their performance of 2012, and will have to go some to win from their positions this weekend!

If you missed any of the action, or want to remind yourself what happened, here's the minute by minute coverage from the Factbyte Factbox.

As it happened: Spain 2013 - Qualifying

Event Highlights

  • Mercedes lock out the front row, with Rosberg leading Hamilton
  • Jenson Button drops out of qualifying in the second session, as Pérez gets through to Q3
  • Giedo van der Garde tops the battle at the back, beating Bianchi by two tenths
  • 12:30

    Hello all, welcome to the Factbyte Factbox for qualifying in Spain!

  • 12:30

    It was raining yesterday in Barcelona but looks like the sun is shining and the clouds are clearing over the circuit ahead of qualifying.

  • 12:31

    So far in practice, Ferrari and Red Bull look like the teams to beat, with Mercedes battling to be up there too. McLaren aren't happy with the updates they've brought so far, saying there is more work to be done.

  • 12:33

    Hard and medium compoundsPirelli have brought the hard and medium compounds to Spain this weekend, with the harder tyre tweaked to be more like the 2012 rubber.

  • 12:37
    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1F Alonso1:25.252
    Free Practice 2S Vettel1:22.808
    Free Practice 3F Massa1:21.901
  • 12:38

    Notably, in FP2, there was less than half a second splitting the top six or seven drivers. FP3 saw 0.006 between 1st and 2nd. It's close at the top!

  • 12:43
    2013 Pole Positions
    1S Vettel2
    2L Hamilton1
    3N Rosberg1
  • 12:47

    Williams prepare for qualifying, via @dickiestanford. Lest we forget, this time last year, Pastor Maldonado qualified second, started the race from pole and went on to win it!

  • 12:56

    Five minutes until qualifying begins. Build-up very tricky to this one, because it's almost like a complete unknown again... which is odd, being Barcelona and all.

  • 12:56

    Double DRS in use this weekend, with the original home straight, and then another zone near turn nine - the only other straight the track really has.

  • 12:57

    All the facts and figures you might need are available here:

  • 12:58



    Wind speed2.5mps
  • 12:58

    Reports from the pit lane suggest Pat Fry, Technical Director at Ferrari, has gone to hospital with kidney stones. He's said to be okay, but the team are having to adjust to a session without him.

  • 12:59

    Mark Webber stands in the garage having a talk with team principal Christian Horner. Both cover their ears as the Australian's car is fired up.

  • 12:59

    Meanwhile, home favourite Fernando Alonso has his helmet on and climbs carefully into his car, settling in for the session to come.

  • 13:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 13:01

    Quiet start to the session with no drivers joining. The flags on the grandstands and waving trees would suggest the wind is quite strong at the moment.

  • 13:02

    Adrian Sutil gets strapped in to his Force India, concentration plastered across the German's face.

  • 13:02

    TweetTweet from @Marussia_F1Team: Almost time for the crucial qualifying session. We made good progress in #FP3 after some overnight changes & kept on improving throughout

  • 13:03

    Sebastian Vettel is only just taking his headphones off and making his balaclava/helmet preparations before getting in the car.

  • 13:03

    An engine fires up, and it is Daniel Ricciardo that exits the pit lane, hard tyres on the Toro Rosso.

  • 13:04

    Pastor Maldonado also leaves his garage, as Lewis Hamilton sits calmly in a chair watching what's going on.

  • 13:05

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: first outing on the hard tyres. 2 to 3 timed laps. after that a look to the right and to the left and then decide about the next steps. #F1

  • 13:05

    Ricciardo crosses the line to start his first flying lap of the session.

  • 13:07

    It's a 1:24.1 for Ricciardo, with Maldonado slipping in behind. Nico Hülkenberg immediately drops the times and Vergne next.

  • 13:08

    Jules Bianchi has left the garage, the first driver with the medium compound on.

  • 13:09

    Half the field are out and about now, with Vergne still on top, but both Lotus drivers looking to beat the time.

  • 13:09

    Kimi pops up to P1 with a 1:23.087.

  • 13:10

    For reference, pole position last year was a 1:21.707 set by Lewis Hamilton.

  • 13:10

    Replays show Räikkönen running slightly wide off track, and the car bottomed out rejoining the tarmac, throwing up some sparks.

  • 13:11

    The green cars head out and about for some qualifying action, via @MyCaterhamF1.

  • 13:11

    At this point, just Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes remain in the garage.

  • 13:12

    The two Ferrari drivers are starting their first flying laps of the session, the team have led two of the three practice sessions so far this weekend.

  • 13:12

    Team radio from Daniel Ricciardo suggests he is struggling for balance, and he's asking the team to help him sort it.

  • 13:13

    Alonso crosses the line for a 1:22.264 to move into first, Massa slips into second, two tenths off his teammate.

  • 13:14

    The stragglers have left the garage now, as those who have set times return to the garage for some thinking time.

  • 13:14

    Nico Hülkenberg is complaining about problems with gear selection.

  • 13:16

    Nico Rosberg goes fastest, shaving three tenths of Alonso's time. Next in line for a lap time is McLaren - Pérez goes 7th, Button gets held up a little but manages 6th.

  • 13:17

    Vettel goes second fastest, Hamilton pops up to P1. All drivers currently out on track are on the softer compound.

  • 13:17

    Webber is the final driver to set a time, he crosses the line for fifth place.

  • 13:17

    Button gets on the radio complaining that he was held up on his lap.

  • 13:18

    The drop zone currently features Bianchi, Van der Garde, Chilton, Pic, Gutiérrez and Hülkenberg.

  • 13:18

    Esteban improves to 14th place, which knocks Bottas into the drop zone. Paul di Resta is sitting 16th, close to the cutoff.

  • 13:19

    The top six drivers remain in the garage, satisfied with their times. The two McLaren drivers are also in the garage, currently 10th and 12th.

  • 13:19

    Hülkenberg improves to ninth, followed across the line by Paul di Resta who also hauls himself to safety.

  • 13:20

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 13:20

    Grosjean leaves the garage for another run, via @Lotus_F1Team. Räikkönen also on a flying lap gets significantly disrupted by a Sauber.

  • 13:21

    In the battle at the back, Bianchi was sitting leader of the four, and teammate Pic slipped into 20th behind him. Giedo van der Garde crossed the line for 19th, however, topping the other three drivers.

  • 13:22
    Qualifying Position
    17V BottasWilliams
    18P MaldonadoWilliams
    19G van der GardeCaterham
    20J BianchiMarussia
    21M ChiltonMarussia
    22C PicCaterham
  • 13:22

    Very bad day for Williams.

  • 13:23

    TweetTweet from @McLarenF1: Chequered flag out. P14 for Checo, P15 for Jenson. Both safely through with just the one run in the session. #SpanishGP

  • 13:25

    Interview with Claire Williams, deputy team principal: "It's clearly not why we come racing, to not get drivers into Q2, let alone Q3. We're going to be disappointed, the boys work really hard... the people back at the factory work really hard too and we need to improve.

    "You never panic in these situations, the grid in Formula One is so close, so tight. We're only one tenth off getting into Q2... it's not a situation for panicking."

  • 13:27

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 13:29

    Another quiet start to the session.

  • 13:29

    Gutiérrez's Sauber is lowered to the ground and he heads out on track with the medium tyres on.

  • 13:31

    More drivers head out, the Red Bulls leave their garage early, as Gutiérrez crosses the line to start his flying lap.

  • 13:32

    Fernando Alonso exits his garage, and the fans in the grandstand start waving their flags just that little bit harder.

  • 13:32

    The only drivers remaining in the garage are Button and Pérez for McLaren.

  • 13:32

    All fourteen drivers on track are on the medium compound, the softer of the two.

  • 13:33

    Gutiérrez and Hülkenberg cross the line first, two tenths between them with Nico slightly ahead.

  • 13:33

    The McLaren boys are out and about, meaning all sixteen drivers are on track somewhere.

  • 13:34

    Times have been pouring in, Räikkönen currently tops the timesheets, with Rosberg just behind. Hülkenberg still third.

  • 13:35

    Alonso crosses the line to go fastest with a 1:21.646, that's just 0.030 ahead of Kimi!

  • 13:36

    Pérez's lap time is good enough for 12th place, Button crosses the line for 15th.

  • 13:36

    All drivers have set a time, and the drop zone features: Vergne, Pérez, Di Resta, Sutil, Button and Ricciardo.

  • 13:37

    Force India also with some work to do to get both cars out of the bottom six.

  • 13:37

    A moment of quiet as all the cars return to the pit lane to put on their next set of tyres and prepare for a final flying lap.

  • 13:37

    As Button comes in from his stint, Sebastian Vettel heads out to prepare for his last attempt.

  • 13:38

    Kimi's radio informs him they are preparing in case they need to head out again, but they must feel pretty safe up in second.

  • 13:38

    Webber joins his teammate out on track. The Red Bull duo are currently 8th and 10th.

  • 13:40

    The top five remain in the garage, watching on carefully. From sixth place down, all drivers are out on track with just two minutes left to do their stuff.

  • 13:41

    Vettel jumps to P1 with a 1:21.602, and Webber rounds a slower car to head onto the home straight for P4.

  • 13:42

    Red Bull are through to the final session safely, but have used an extra set of tyres compared to their nearest rivals (read: Alonso).

  • 13:42

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 13:42

    Hamilton has been pushed into the drop zone, but the Mercedes driver is on a lap.

  • 13:43

    Hamilton not only scrapes out of the drop zone but jumps up to P1 with a 1:21.001.

  • 13:44
    Qualifying Position
    11D RicciardoToro Rosso
    12JE VergneToro Rosso
    13A SutilForce India
    14J ButtonMcLaren
    15N HülkenbergSauber
    16E GutiérrezSauber
  • 13:44

    Sergio Pérez made it through to the top ten shoot-out, whilst a last lap lock-up for Button dropped him out of the qualifying session early.

  • 13:44
    Field Spread
    1stL Hamilton1:21.001
    16thE Gutiérrez1:22.793
  • 13:47

    Seems like there's a lot of team-by-team action on the grid, with similar cars lining up next to each other.

    Inter-Team Battle
    Toro Rosso
    D Ricciardo11th
    JE Vergne12th
    Inter-Team Battle
    N Hülkenberg15th
    E Gutiérrez16th
  • 13:48

    QuoteInterview with Max Chilton: "I'm quite encouraged by that, I was only a couple of tenths behind Jules. I came out of the pits just behind the Caterhams, so I had to race them... managed to get past but I felt the consequences of that in the final sector. I think that made the difference, so I'm really encouraged and looking forward to the race tomorrow."

  • 13:50

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: Top 10 start for Paul once more in a very consistent season for the Scot. Looking in form today, roll on Q3! #FeelTheForce

  • 13:50

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 13:50

    This time there is no waiting around as Kimi Räikkönen leaves the pit lane as soon as the lights turn green.

  • 13:51

    Alonso and Rosberg join the Lotus out on track. All three have opted for the medium compound.

  • 13:51

    Romain Grosjean also exits his garage to join the action on track.

  • 13:53

    Kimi's first lap time of the session and the early benchmark, 1:21.539.

  • 13:53

    Team radioTeam radio to Räikkönen: "Okay Kimi, box this lap and look after the tyres on the in-lap."

  • 13:54

    Rosberg crosses the line for a 1:20.824 - nearly a second faster than Kimi. Alonso is down on that time, he takes second for now.

  • 13:55

    Massa pops in to third with Grosjean fourth, pushing Kimi down to fifth.

  • 13:57

    Five drivers are waiting for a one-lap attempt, all drivers return to the pitlane for a brief moment, until Vettel heads out for the first time.

  • 13:57

    Kimi follows, his second attempt at a lap this session.

  • 13:58

    All ten drivers hit the track, we've got 90(ish) seconds left for the order to be decided.

  • 13:59

    Vettel and Kimi are both faster than the P1 time through the first sector.

  • 13:59

    Räikkönen looks to be faster of the two as well.

  • 14:00

    Vettel crosses the line second, but has time for another lap if he so desires. Kimi is third.

  • 14:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 14:00

    Rosberg moves up to P1 with 1:20.718, teammate Hamilton is two tenths down for second.

  • 14:01

    Alonso is only fast enough for fifth, teammate Massa sixth.

  • 14:02

    StopwatchPole position for Nico Rosberg with a time of 1:20.718.

  • 14:03
    Qualifying Position
    1N RosbergMercedes
    2L HamiltonMercedes
    3S VettelRed Bull
    4K RäikkönenLotus
    5F AlonsoFerrari
    6F MassaFerrari
    7R GrosjeanLotus
    8M WebberRed Bull
    9S PérezMcLaren
    10P di RestaForce India
  • 14:04
    Gap Analysis
  • 14:04

    The drivers exit their cars and go to get weighed, checking the timesheets to figure out exactly what happened in that final session.

  • 14:07

    QuoteInterview with Ross Brawn: "You never know what other people are running. It's fair to say this weekend, we've been having to focus on race work, as that's where we've been poor... we didn't really know where we were. Our drivers are using the tyres very intelligently, not pushing them in sector one and saving them for sector three where the time seems to come."

  • 14:08
  • 14:13

    QuoteInterview with Martin Whitmarsh: "Firstly, I've got to say Checo, particularly in Q2, did a fantastic job. It was a really good run. I think we could have been tactical in Q3 and kept some new tyres for the race, but he was driving so well, we thought let's go for it... I think, given that our car isn't quick enough, you have to applaud him and what a great job he did.

    "For Jenson, a disappointing outcome, we haven't gone back to the data yet, but there's evidence his tyre pressures were too high. We're fighting at the moment to get through to Q3, that's not where we want to be. We've got to keep on working hard to get to the competitive levels we expect of ourselves."

  • 14:17

    That's all for qualifying then. A Mercedes front row, with lots of stats saying that, if it is dry, then pole position is the place to be.

  • 14:18

    Fascinating session really. Was expecting more from Alonso, amazed the Red Bulls are so far apart when the rest of the field seem close. And what on earth is going on at McLaren?

  • 14:18

    I'll be back again tomorrow for the race, I hope you will be around to join me for some Factbyte Factboxing fun for the Spanish Grand Prix.

All content in the series Spain 2013