Lewis Hamilton has stormed to a strong pole, a year after Rosberg took the new Mercedes’ first ever pole position at the same circuit. An allergic reaction on Thursday did nothing to damped Lewis’ spirit as he looked strong in the practice sessions and eventually set a great lap to secure pole ahead of Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
It was eight minutes before a single car graced the circuit during the opening Qualifying session, Jules Bianchi and his Marussia finally breaking the stalemate. Jules’ first lap of 1.39.025 was then shattered by Rosberg who set a 1.35.959. The rest of the grid filed in to set a lap, Hamilton storming in to take P1 from his team-mate with a 1.35.793 while Raikkonen simultaneously battled his way around a lap with the same serious grip problems which blighted Lotus in practice.
Bianchi’s opening lap gave Bottas and the two Toro Rosso’s a tough benchmark to beat, something which they eventually managed. The Frenchman finished P19 and first of the back-markers regardless, with Gutierrez and Bottas the two drivers joining the Marussias and Caterhams.
Q1 drew to an end with Force India’s Adrian Sutil reporting “Raikkonen slowed my lap, so tell the stewards”.
Sebastian Vettel was the first man out on track for the second qualifying session. The long wait which preceded the first car in Q1 was non-existent this time round. His first lap time was set on the scrubbed tires he ran on in Q1, but the German still set a strong lap time of 1.36.260. Mark Webber in the other RB9 was the second man to put in a time, setting a lap four-tenths of a second behind the German.
Nico Hulkenberg, Adrian Sutil and Jean-Eric Vergne were the next three across the line to sit third, fourth and fifth provisionally, respectively. Alonso didn’t have to be asked twice to jump to P1, although it was short of a tenth clear of Vettel’s time. Massa attempt at P1 gave the Brazilian third on the timesheets.
Mark Webber pulled his RB9 off track with a fuel issue meaning his Qualifying session was over. The Aussie was left sitting with the marshalls, hoping his lap time would be enough to see him through to Q3.
At the same time, the Mercedes’ ran free and saw Lewis Hamilton set a fantastic lap – a 1.35.078, which put him nearly half a second clear of P2 man Nico Rosberg. Vettel returned to the track to ensure he was safely within the top 10 needed to progress to Q3 and he went P2. Alonso then stormed in to bump the German down to P3. Mark Webber felt the cost of his problem, sitting back as he dropped to P14 for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. Fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo put in a fantastic lap to make it through to the final Qualifying session.
And so the final ten minutes of Qualifying arrived and it was Sebastian Vettel who was the first man out again. His first lap was over in Turn 1 when he suddenly backed off with the words “Okay Sebastian, pit this lap, pit this lap” coming through his radio. He obeyed and backed off, a lap needlessly set on the delicate Pirellis.
Once again, the pitlane went quiet as the teams got cosy in the pitlane. The Q3 session which is usually full of action left commentators racking their brains for something to say as the camera showed drivers watching screens and pit crews twiddling their fingers.
Eventually, Kimi Raikkonen came out and led nine other cars. Kimi’s lap put him first with a 1.34.6 followed by Rosberg’s 1.34.8, Hamilton’s 1.34.4, Massa’s 1.34.9, Grosjean’s 1.35.3 and Ricciardo’s 1.35.9 while Vettel locked up his tires into the hairpin and abandoned his lap – again. Jenson Button cruised around the lap to set a slow lap for P8, but it still trumped Vettel’s abandoned lap.
- Lewis Hamilton
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Fernando Alonso
- Nico Rosberg
- Felipe Massa
- Romain Grosjean
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Jenson Button
- Sebastian Vettel
- Nico Hulkenberg
- Paul di Resta
- Sergio Perez
- Adrian Sutil
- Mark Webber*
- Pastor Maldonado
- Jean-Eric Vergne
- Valtteri Bottas
- Esteban Gutierrez
- Jules Bianchi
- Max Chilton
- Charles Pic
- Giedo van der Garde