F1 2015 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying result: Hamilton chases Barcelona victory
PUBLISHED: 20:34 09 May 2015 | UPDATED: 20:34 09 May 2015
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton is targeting victory in the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix, despite missing a fifth successive pole position in qualifying.
The 30-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver from Hertfordshire qualified second at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya today (Saturday).
Hamilton was beaten to pole position in qualifying for the Spanish GP by Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg.
Overtaking is notoriously difficult at the Barcelona track and whoever bags pole generally has the upper hand. Hamilton, for example, took the chequered flag in Spain last year from pole position.
Despite starting from second place on the grid tomorrow, Hamilton hopes to claim the 37th win of his F1 career, with the 730 metre run down to the Turn One apex his best opportunity to overtake Rosberg.
Hamilton said: “Of course, being on pole makes life a bit easier but it doesn’t mean you can’t win from elsewhere on the grid.
“Generally speaking, the outside of the grid is cleaner here so you can usually get a good start from there.
“The main opportunities to gain places will be the start and the pit stops as it’s hard to overtake but I’ll give my best shot like always.
“Every race you do, you’re thinking about racing for the Championship and I’ll keep driving the same way I always do.
“It may not have been the greatest weekend so far but it’s not over yet – tomorrow is where it counts.”
Rosberg took his first pole position of the season and the 16th of his Formula One career with a lap of 1m 24.681s.
Hamilton will line up alongside him on the front row, completing a third front row lockout of the season for the Silver Arrows.
The Stevenage-born world championship leader said: “It was quite tricky out there today.
2015 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying result
1 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:24.681
2 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.267
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) + 0.777
4 Valtteri Bottas (Williams) + 1.013
5 Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) + 1.455
6 Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) +1.568
7 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) + 1.733
8 Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) + 1.948
9 Felipe Massa (Williams) +2.076
10 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) + 2.089
“I did the best I could – but it wasn’t quite fast enough and Nico did a really good job.
“I think he’s been a bit more comfortable with the balance than I have so far this weekend.
“The rear was under-rotating quite a bit today, which means you have oversteer and poor traction, so I lost a lot of time in the middle sector. In the end, P2 isn’t so bad.”
Both Mercedes drivers ran twice in Q1 (Prime / Prime), once in Q2 (Option), and twice again in Q3 (Option / Option).
Circuit de Catalunya: The race
* Start time: 14.00 (local) / 13.00 (BST).
* Race distance: 66 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75% distance/49.5 laps).
* 2014 winner: Lewis Hamilton.
* 2014 pole position: Lewis Hamilton 1m25.232s 196.616km/h.
* 2014 fastest lap: Sebastian Vettel 1m28.918s 188.466km/h.
* Chances of a Safety Car: Low. There have been five Safety Car periods since 2003 and four of those were for first-lap incidents.
* Don’t put the kettle on… Between laps 18-20 and 40-43. Last year’s race was won using a two-stop strategy. The medium-compound tyre was the preferred race tyre, with most cars using the harder compound late in the race for a short dash to the flag.
* Weather forecast: The long-term forecast looks good, with temperatures in the low-20s. The chance of rain is low.
Pole-sitter Rosberg said: “Today was a good day in the office for me. The conditions were really difficult out there but, thanks to the team, we nailed the setup and got it all together.
“I really feel great in the car this weekend and was able to improve from session to session.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, the German driver said: “So now I hope to have a good start and to control it from there.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and can’t wait for the race.
Did you know?
The end of the lap was re-profiled in 2007.
A chicane was installed to slow the cars prior to the final corner, dropping the average lap speed by 12kph.
“It’s been a positive start but Sunday is where it really counts.”
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, praised Rosberg for nailing it in qualifying.
Wolff said: “That was a brilliant lap from Nico in Q3 to take his first pole of the season.
“It just goes to show that things turn quickly in Formula 1.
Circuit de Catalunya: The track
* First race: 1991.
* Circuit length: 4.655km/2.892 miles.
* Run to Turn One: 730 metres – the longest of the season.
* Longest straight: 1.047km, on the approach to Turn One.
* Top speed: 330km/h on the approach to Turn One.
* DRS zones: Two – the first on the approach to Turn One, the second on the approach to Turn 10.
* Key corner: Turn Three. This is a tricky uphill right-hander, through which the drivers get hard on the throttle before they can see the exit. A lot of time can be saved through here if your car has a good high-speed balance.
* Pitlane length: 331 metres.
* Major changes for 2015: None.
“There have been lots of people asking questions about whether he could bounce back or had lost his momentum.
“But they have to remember that these guys are tough, they’re resilient and they’re not so much affected by these ups and downs in results as people think.
“Nico stayed focused this weekend, did his job so far and took a great pole position.”
Turning his thoughts to Rosberg’s Silver Arrows team-mate, Wolff added: “Lewis suffered from an oversteer balance on his laps and it’s very hard to find the limit at this circuit when that’s the case.
Circuit de Catalunya: The car
* Fuel consumption: 1.7kg per lap, making it fairly average in terms of fuel consumption.
* Full throttle: 63 per cent.
* Brake wear: Medium. There are eight braking events, but only 13 per cent of the lap is spent braking and there are two long straights along which to cool the brakes.
* Gear changes: 44 per lap/2904 per race.
“But he still took P2 and can target a strong race tomorrow.
“We have a solid half-second gap today but I am sure things will be closer in the race.
“The conditions are very hot and we will have to manage the tyres carefully tomorrow in order to find the right balance between durability and speed.
“I’m expecting a pretty interesting afternoon.”
Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe was “really pleased” to lockout the front row at Barcelona.
He said: “It’s a very important result because overtaking is more difficult than usual at this track.
“Likewise, it was pleasing to be able to save two new sets of Option tyres for the race – one with each car – and that will be an advantage tomorrow.
“Congratulations to Nico on his first pole position of 2015 – in fact, he set two laps capable of securing pole, so it was a fantastic job and I’m really very pleased for him.
“Conditions out there were pretty tricky, too, with a lot of gusting wind.”
As for Mercedes’ chances tomorrow, Lowe added: “Looking at the relative performances, we seem to have maintained a good differential at this first European circuit where everybody brought a lot of upgrades, which is a really important achievement.
“We’re looking forward to tomorrow and to seeing if we can convert our front row positions into a lot of championship points.”
McLaren-Honda failed to make Q3 again, but Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso are starting to unlock the car’s potential.
The team managed to get both cars got into Q2 for the first time this year, and Alonso will start 13th on Sunday, with Button 14th on the grid.
Both McLaren drivers used the Option tyre for Q1, with Alonso aborting his second run to rely on his first lap of 1m 27.941s to squeeze into the second session.
The drivers then ran used Options for their Q2 sighting laps, before running fresher rubber at the very end of the session.
On his final lap, Alonso suffered a brief wobble through Turn Eight, and once again fell back on his earlier laptime.
Button suffered a braking issue in the session – the car pulled to the left under braking for Turn One – but he improved to a 1m 27.854s on his final Q2 run.
With long-run potential looking good, the team is optimistic of moving forwards in the race tomorrow.
Alonso said: “This is the first time both McLaren-Hondas have got into Q2 this season, so we’re definitely unlocking more of the car’s potential, and there’ll be more to come in the next couple of races.
“Still, this is another step forward, and I hope we can fight for points tomorrow.
“We’re starting 13th, and our tyre management looks quite good, so I think it’s realistic to look at getting into the top 10, but we’ll need to attack throughout the race.
“To be honest, however, scoring one or two points tomorrow isn’t what we as a team are looking for, but it’s good for everyone’s motivation if we keep achieving tangible results – so scoring points will be a good step.”
Former world champion Button said: “I’m a bit frustrated because we fitted new brakes for qualifying, and, every time I braked for Turn One, the car pulled to the left.
“On my last run in Q2, the team told me to warm the brakes in a different way, which meant they weren’t fully warmed up by the time I started my fast lap, so I had front locking for the first three corners.
“It felt a bit weird, so we need to look at the reasons why.”
As for the grand prix itself, Button added: “I hope that we can be relatively competitive and have a reasonable race tomorrow.
“We’re making solid progress – we got both cars into Q2 on merit, without any cars ahead of us suffering any issues. That’s a positive step for the whole team.
“Yesterday, our long-run practice pace looked okay – a lot of teams turn their engines up for qualifying, and then turn them down again for the race, but we don’t have to do that, so we perhaps go into the race with a bit more potential than some of the cars ahead of us.
“I’m looking forward to the race.”
Eric Boullier, the McLaren-Honda racing director, said: “Compared with where we were at the beginning of the season, this afternoon’s qualifying performance clearly indicates the continuing steady improvement we’ve been working so hard to achieve.”
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