F1 2013: Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying Recap

Nico Rosberg (1:20.718) won pole for the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix in a thrilling final lap duel with much of the rest of the Q3 field. Though he went out early in Q3 and in hindsight could have sat on that lap time, he went back out and improved to set a pole time nearly two tenths faster than second place qualifier and his teammate Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel qualified third, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth. Fernando Alonso could only go fifth fastest for his home crowd, while the biggest surprise was Mark Webber only eighth fastest.

Q1 was fairly typical, with most of the field waiting a period of time before bothering to join the session. Button, who moved up to Q2, complained of a massive block from Esteban Gutierrez, who had been knocked out in that session. However, the day was an unhappy one for Button, who could manage only fourteenth fastest and dropped out in Q2 while his teammate moved on to the fight for pole. Blocking continued through Q2, leaving the stewards plenty to investigate after the sessions.

Qualifying Results for the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix

DRIVER TEAM TIME LAPS
1.  Nico Rosberg  Mercedes  1:20.718  12
2.  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes  1:20.972  12
3.  Sebastian Vettel  Red Bull  1:21.054  12
4.  Kimi Raikkonen  Lotus  1:21.177  17
5.  Fernando Alonso  Ferrari  1:21.218  12
6.  Felipe Massa  Ferrari  1:21.219  12
7.  Romain Grosjean  Lotus  1:21.308  16
8.  Mark Webber  Red Bull  1:21.570  12
9.  Sergio Perez  McLaren  1:22.069  13
10.  Paul di Resta  Force India  1:22.233  17
Knocked Out in Q2
11.  Daniel Ricciardo  Toro Rosso  1:22.127  14
12.  Jean-Eric Vergne  Toro Rosso  1:22.166  12
13.  Adrian Sutil  Force India  1:22.346  12
14.  Jenson Button  McLaren  1:22.355  9
15.  Nico Hulkenberg  Sauber  1:22.389  13
16.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber  1:22.793  15
Knocked Out in Q1
17.  Valtteri Bottas  Williams  1:23.260  9
18.  Pastor Maldonando  Williams  1:23.318  9
19.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham  1:24.661  6
20.  Jules Bianchi  Marussia  1:24.996  6
21.  Max Chilton  Marussia  1:24.996  6
22.  Charles Pic  Caterham  1:25.070  6

Alonso (1:25.252) set the fastest time during Friday morning’s practice, setting that time near the end of the damp and drying session. He had been quickest earlier when the track was wet, but did not remain so as the circuit dried out during the session’s progression. Teammate Massa, Vergne, Grosjean, and Sutil rounded out the fastest five. Red Bull did not set quick times in the changing conditions, though both Vettel and Webber ran comparatively quickly earlier in practice. Despite the changing conditions, there were no major incidents, but a few spins.

Vettel (1:22.808) resumed his quick pace for the afternoon practice, pipping Alonso to the top spot. Webber, Raikkonen, Massa completed the list of the fastest five, though Hamilton was very quick in sixth, and only .332s covered the top six. Though Mercedes was fast in the early, hard compound running, Alonso and the Red Bulls had more speed in the fast, qualifying simulation runs at the end of practice. Again, a tire delaminated during FP2, with di Resta the unlucky victim. His left rear shredded as he drove down the start finish straight. He parked his Force India in the grass and managed to set the tenth fastest time before ending his session early.

Massa (1:21.901) led the final practice Saturday morning, with teammate Alonso relegated to sixth in the late quali sim runs after having led most of the session. Raikkonen, Webber, Grosjean, and Vettel filled the running order between them.

Q1:
No driver had queued to begin the twenty minutes of Q1 straightaway. The wind was quite strong; the sun shining brightly. Ricciardo finally got things going, nearly four minutes into the session. Maldonado followed quickly, as did Hulkenberg and Vergne. As the early drivers set times, other began trickling out onto the track. Raikkonen (1:23.087) led the way at halfway, with Grosjean, Vergne, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Maldonado, and Gutierrez the running order of men with times.

Alonso and Massa flew on their first flying laps, with the former taking nearly a second off Raikkonen’s time. Massa slotted between them. In the final seven minutes, many drivers were out directly on the medium, softer, tires. As the final five minutes began, Alonso (1:22.264) led Massa, Raikkonen, Sutil, and Grosjean as the top five. Rosberg soon supplanted Alonso at the top. Meanwhile, neither Red Bull, McLaren, nor Hamilton had yet set a fast time. Perez managed seventh fastest on hi first lap, only to have Button jump up to sixth. That would no last long, as Vettel went second fastest on his own first lap. At the top, Hamilton replaced his teammate. Webber soon slotted into fifth fastest.

With three minutes to go, all drivers had finally set times and Hulkenberg, Gutierrez, Pic, Chilton, van der Garde, and Bianchi in the knockout zone. Even as he popped up to fifteenth, Maldonado was not perfectly situated for a great starting position with Button complaining that the Williams massively held him up on his own fast lap.

Hulkenberg managed to move up to tenth fastest and subsequently Maldonado returned to the knockout zone. In the end, Hamilton (1:21.728) led the session, with Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Grosjean, di Resta, and Vergne the fastest ten.

Q2:
Gutierrez led the way to start the fifteen minutes of Q2, followed by Hulkenberg. Neither were right on the button as both waited nearly three minutes into the session to begin. Raikkonen (1:21.676) soon led the session, with Hulkenberg, Vettel, Gutierrez, and Webber the fastest five nearing halfway. Rosberg then made his way to second fastest as a number of times dropped in the pack. Alonso next went fastest, beating Raikkonen by three hundredths. Button could manage not better than fifteenth fastest on his first lap, more than two seconds off Alonso’s pace.

Most drivers popped into the garage for fresh tires with five minutes remaining. At that point, Alonso led Raikkonen, Rosberg, Massa, and Grosjean as the top five. Vergne, Perez, di Resta, Sutil, Button, and Ricciardo were then in the knockout zone. The Red Bulls led the way back out when four minutes were left. Raikkonen would not go back out, unless necessary, according to a team radio transition.

The top five remained in the garage with two minutes to go. Vettel went straight to the top with his second fast run, taking four hundredths off Alonso’s time. Webber went fourth fastest. Di Resta looked to haul himself out of the knockout zone, and did, moving up to eighth with barely time for another lap. Ricciardo also moved up, to ninth. Vergne looked safe, but dropped out as Perez and Hamilton moved on to Q3. In the end, Hmailton (1:21.001) led Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, Webber, Rosberg, Perez, Massa, Grosjean, and di Resta moving on to Q3. Button could manage only fourteenth.

Q3:
Raikkonen went immediately on to the track as the ten minutes of Q3 began. Rosberg and Alonso soon followed. Raikkonen’s first lap (1:21.539) was a bit ragged, leaving plenty of room for Alonso to beat the early benchmark by three tenths. Rosberg was much quicker, setting a time seven tenths faster than Kimi. After their first runs, Rosberg led Alonso, Massa, Grosjean, and Raikkonen as both the top five and the only men with times at halfway.

Di Resta had set an out lap, completing the final two sectors, but all the drivers looked set for a single lap duel for pole. Vettel was the first back out, just at the three minute mark, with Raikkonen and a number of other drivers following. Everyone had made his way out with two minutes to go.

Raikkonen was very fast in his first sector. Vettel managed only second fastest on his first lap, crossing the line with time enough for a second lap. Raikkonen was just slower than Vettel. Hamilton, despite his early fast time in Q2, could not beat his teammate as Rosberg had improved his own time. Alonso managed only fifth fastest, with Massa just slower. Webber had a terrible lap, qualifying eighth. In the end, Rosberg kept his provisional pole, nearly two tenths up on his teammate.

{originally published at Formula1Blog}

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