GP Spagna, prove sabato–12/05/2012
Lewis Hamilton storms to Spanish Grand Prix pole position
Lewis Hamilton and McLaren took pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix by a commanding margin over shock front row man Pastor Maldonado’s Williams.
In a session full of surprises, Hamilton was half a second quicker than Maldonado, who had been rapid in final practice, topped Q2, and then held provisional pole for a while.
Hamilton was the only frontrunner to do two runs in Q3, and his initial benchmark stood until first local hero Fernando Alonso in the much improved Ferrari, then the incredible Maldonado beat him.
But there was still more to come from Hamilton, who produced a 1m21.707s to give McLaren its 150th Formula 1 pole. The Briton then stopped on track on his slowing-down lap.
Just behind Maldonado, Alonso held second ahead of Lotus team-mates Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, who again proved extremely competitive.
Both Saubers made it into Q3, with Sergio Perez going on to take sixth, but Kamui Kobayashi consigned to 10th as his car expired on the way back to the pits at the end of Q2.
Nico Rosberg was seventh after just one early run in Q3, while both Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Rosberg’s Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher chose to save tyres and not doing any flying laps in Q3, so qualified eighth and ninth.
The presence of the underdogs in the top 10 inevitably meant some big names were squeezed out in Q2, and it was Jenson Button – who had been uncomfortable with the McLaren’s handling all day – and Mark Webber who found themselves on the wrong side of the cut-off. The McLaren and Red Bull will share row six, double Catalunya polesitter Webber having been sat in the pits at the end of the session as others improved and pushed him backwards.
It was a bad day for Felipe Massa as well, the Ferrari driver registering his worst grid position so far in this already-disappointing season as he qualified behind the Force Indias and Toro Rossos in 17th.
While Maldonado stormed towards the front, his Williams team-mate Bruno Senna pushed too hard in his efforts to keep up – spinning into the gravel at the end of Q1 and ensuring an instant exit.
Vitaly Petrov outqualified Caterham team-mate Heikki Kovalainen for the first time as the back-of-the-grid teams lined up in the usual order. Charles Pic was quicker than fellow Marussia man Timo Glock, and HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan will needs stewards’ permission to race as apparent mechanical issues left him a long way from the 107 per cent margin.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m21.707s
2. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m22.285s + 0.578
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.302s + 0.595
4. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m22.424s + 0.717
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m22.487s + 0.780
6. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m22.533s + 0.826
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.005s + 1.298
8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault No time
9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes No time
10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari No time
Q2 cut-off time: 1m22.904s Gap ** 11. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.944s + 0.839 12. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m22.977s + 0.872 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m23.125s + 1.020 14. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m23.177s + 1.072 15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.265s + 1.160 16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.442s + 1.337 17. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.444s + 1.339 Q1 cut-off time: 1m24.362s Gap * 18. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m24.981s + 2.398 19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m25.277s + 2.694 20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m25.507s + 2.924 21. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.582s + 3.999 22. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.032s + 4.449 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m27.555s + 4.972 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m31.122s + 8.539
Sebastian Vettel fastest in final Spanish Grand Prix practice
Sebastian Vettel denied Pastor Maldonado a shock timesheet-topping performance in the final seconds of the third practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona.
Most of the hour had seen a variety of surprise underdog names taking turns on top, before reigning champions Vettel and Red Bull re-established the expecting order with the German’s final lap.
It was Sauber’s Sergio Perez who led the way for most of the morning, setting the quickest time of the first half hour on the harder tyres, then being swiftly usurped by first Nico Rosberg, then Jean-Eric Vergne as the Mercedes and Toro Rosso tried softs.
Once Perez was on softs too, he was swiftly back in front, lapping in 1m23.742s.
That held until the final two minutes, when his team-mate Kamui Kobayashi jumped to the top, followed by Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
But before this pair could get to the pits, they were being usurped as Maldonado came through to put his Williams on top with a 1m23.336s.
The Venezuelan would not stay there, as with seconds left on the clock, Vettel edged him out by 0.168 seconds.
Maldonado, Kobayashi, Webber and Perez found themselves pushed back to second through fifth places, ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, Vergne, and fastest McLaren driver Jenson Button. The sister McLaren of Lewis Hamilton looked poised to grab first place on the Briton’s soft tyre run, only to encounter heavy traffic in the middle of the chicane, leaving Hamilton an unrepresentative 16th.
Romain Grosjean did not complete any flying laps after a fuel pressure issue stranded his Lotus at Turn 10 early on, while Timo Glock was the other man to park trackside following an apparent issue at the final chicane in the closing minutes. The German stopped his Marussia just past the pit exit.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m23.168 13 2. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m23.336s + 0.168 19 3. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m23.350s + 0.182 19 4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m23.578s + 0.410 16 5. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m23.742s + 0.574 22 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m23.807s + 0.639 15 7. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.833s + 0.665 14 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.909s + 0.741 13 9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m23.936s + 0.768 16 10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.070s + 0.902 23 11. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m24.179s + 1.011 16 12. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m24.323s + 1.155 17 13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.331s + 1.163 15 14. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m24.409s + 1.241 18 15. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.599s + 1.431 15 16. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.778s + 1.610 15 17. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m24.825s + 1.657 17 18. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m25.911s + 2.743 20 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m26.587s + 3.419 20 20. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.469s + 4.301 18 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.689s + 4.521 16 22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m28.207s + 5.039 24 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m28.373s + 5.205 13 24. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault no time 2