F1 2013 Spanish Grand Prix: Hamilton’s tyre worries in Barcelona
PUBLISHED: 10:42 12 May 2013 | UPDATED: 15:01 12 May 2013
FORMULA 1 ace Lewis Hamilton starts today’s 2013 Spanish Grand Prix from the front row with tyre wear likely to hit the Mercedes driver’s chances of winning in Barcelona.
The 28-year-old F1 star from Hertfordshire lines up alongside Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg after the Silver Arrows dominated qualifying at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday.
Rosberg starts from pole position in Spain – just as he did in Bahrain last month – with Hamilton second on the grid ahead of Red Bull’s reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel. It is the first time since the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix that both Mercedes drivers will start from the front row.
Both Hamilton and Rosberg used three sets of option tyres during qualifying and saved four fresh sets of the prime compound for the race. With pitstop strategy and tyre wear likely to play a factor in deciding the podium positions, having new sets of hard tyres for the race could prove invaluable.
Hamilton said: “Limiting the degradation is going to be my major challenge as the general pace isn’t too bad. It’s going to be tough to keep these positions tomorrow [Sunday] but we’ll give it our best shot.”
Grand Prix of Spain
* Race distance: 66 laps (307.104km/190.825 miles)
* Start time: 14.00 (local)/12.00 (GMT)
* Circuit length: 4.655km/2.892 miles
* 2012 winner: Pastor Maldonado (Williams FW34) 66 laps in 1hr39m09.145s (185.838km/h)
* 2012 pole: Pastor Maldonado (Williams FW34) 1m22.285s (203.658km/h)
* Lap record: Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari F2008) 1m21.670s (205.121km/h)
Despite securing back-to-back pole positions, Rosberg is also taking nothing for granted ahead of the first European grand prix of the season, having learnt from experience qualifying fastest doesn’t guarantee a podium.
Speaking after qualifying, he said: “We know that this is only half of the job completed and have the painful memory of what happened in Bahrain to prove that.
“We’ve worked very hard on our race pace but this track is tough for the tyres, particularly with graining. So it will be a big challenge tomorrow [Sunday] and our goal is to make the most of the opportunity we have from starting at the front and get a strong result for the team.”
Mercedes F1 team principal Ross Brawn hailed his drivers after securing a front-row lockout in qualifying but admits it is going to be a tough race.
2013 Spanish Grand Prix grid positions
Revised Spanish Grand Prix grid positions (top 10 only):
1 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
4 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
5 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
6 Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
7 Mark Webber (Red Bull)
8 Sergio Perez (McLaren)
9 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) *
10 Paul Di Resta (Force India)
* Three-place grid penalty
He said: “A great job by the team and both of our drivers today [Saturday]: I believe we have the strongest driver pairing in Formula One this year and they demonstrated it today.
“However, we know that it’s tomorrow afternoon [Sunday] that counts and we have worked diligently this weekend to find the right solutions to improve our performance and consistency in race conditions.
“I don’t think we will be the strongest team in the race but we are starting from the best possible position.
“Now we need to get through the first stint, which will certainly be interesting on the option tyre, and then see how our race develops.”
Mercedes director Toto Wolff also acknowledged winning today’s grand prix will be a tough ask. After qualifying he said: “It was a nice surprise for us to see both cars at the top of the times this afternoon but we know that Sunday afternoon is a more complicated challenge for us.
“We have worked all weekend with the race in mind but it is clear that we are harder on the tyres than some of our rivals.
“Tomorrow [Sunday] will show us what progress we have made on improving this situation and our pace in the race.”
The 2013 Spanish Grand Prix starts at 1pm.
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