It was disappointment for Fernando Alonso in front of his home crowd as Nico Rosberg swooped for Mercedes and stole pole position from under the noses of the pre-qualifying favourites. The German headed up a Mercedes One-Two as team-mate Lewis Hamilton set the 2nd fastest time, ensuring the Anglo-German team secured their third pole position in a row.
The two men had flown under the radar during Q1 and Q2 as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen looked set to battle for pole position, but it was the Mercedes F1W04 that blitzed the final sector to take the first front row lockout for any team at barcelona since Brawn GP in 2009.
Williams fared considerably less successfully as both Pastor Maldonado and Valterri Bottas dropped out in Q1, although Giedo Van Der Garde was happy to be fastest of the Marussia/Caterham battle for the first time this season.
Both Sauber men were victims of the Q2 shootout, while McLaren seemed to accidentally send Jenson Button out with his tyre pressures set too high; the mistake cost the Briton any chance of progressing to Q3 and he limped to 14th place on the grid, behind Ricciardo, Vergne and Sutil.
Sergio Perez had aced his way into the final shootout session but failed to make any impact once the running got underway, and set the 9th fastest time ahead of Paul Di Resta who appeared to conserve his tyres and avoid lapping too quickly. Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber filled places 6th-8th, with Alonso 5th, Raikkonen 4th and Vettel 3rd behind the rampant Mercedes’.
Blocking seemed to be an inconvenient sideline to the main qualifying story, with Button, Raikkonen and Webber all held up throughout the numerous sessions by slower cars, namely Massa, Maldonado and Gutierrez. Penalties may be applied to those drivers if found guilty of a rule infraction.
Mercedes are an outside bet for the race victory tomorrow, as the race simulation work from both Rosberg and Hamilton has been far from impressive. Vettel, Raikkonen and Alonso have all shown promising pace and are expected to do battle for the top honours when the lights go out tomorrow.
SPANISH GRAND PRIX GRID LINE-UP
|10||Di Resta||Force India|
|19||Van Der Garde||Caterham|