Rosberg halts Hamilton’s pole run in Spain

2015 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying

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Nico Rosberg ended Lewis Hamilton’s monopoly on pole position by beating his team mate in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The two Mercedes drivers share the front row of the grid as the challenge from Ferrari faded: Sebastian Vettel was over three-quarters of a second down in third, and Kimi Raikkonen could only manage seventh on the grid.

The surprise of qualifying was the form of the Toro Rossos, who locked out the third row, while McLaren got both their cars through Q1 for the first time this year.


Both Mercedes drivers easily secured their passage to Q2 without having to resort to using the softer medium tyres. Vettel also progressed to the next phase of qualifying using only the hard rubber.

But as in practice Raikkonen was less happy with the balance of his Ferrari. He also found himself in traffic on his first run, which was some seven-tenths of a second slower than Vettel managed, so he resorted to a set of medium tyres to ensure he made it into Q2.

McLaren faced the opposite question and decided not to bother running the hard tyre at all. This paid dividends: both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were quick enough on their second runs to out-pace the two Force Indias and Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber, putting both MP4-30s in Q2 for the first time this year.

Nico Hulkenberg reported his tyres had gone off by the latter stages of his lap – the rising temperatures at the Circuit de Catalunya presenting drivers with conditions almost as difficult as those seen in second practice.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’28.112
17Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’28.365
18Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’28.442
19Will StevensManor-Ferrari1’31.200
20Roberto MerhiManor-Ferrari1’32.038


A single run at the beginning of Q2 was all the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers needed to get through to Q3. Valtteri Bottas also stayed in the garage while the rest began their final laps, but team mate Felipe Massa did run again, moving up to fourth with his last effort.

There was almost nothing between the two Toro Rosso drivers as they secured passage to Q3 – Max Verstappen beating Carlos Sainz Jnr by just three-hundredths of a second – and once again the pair were ahead of both the Red Bulls.

McLaren progressed no further, and both Lotus drivers moved ahead of them with their final efforts, though all four were eliminated.

Romain Grosjean was clearly unhappy at failing to reach Q3 for the first time this year, complaining about a loss of front grip on his lap. His race engineer was less concerned, however, pointing out they would be better off starting from eleventh on fresh tyres than from tenth on used rubber.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Romain GrosjeanLotus-Mercedes1’27.375
12Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Mercedes1’27.450
13Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’27.760
14Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’27.854
15Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’28.005


Rosberg drew first blood in the pole position shoot-out: Hamilton was first across the line, but his team mate had over a quarter of a second in hand after their first runs on new tyres. Only two other drivers had that luxury: Bottas had a scruffy lap leaving Vettel a comfortable third. Raikkonen, running used tyres, was a distant fifth.

Raikkonen wasn’t able to overhaul Bottas with his last run on the new tyres, and his disappointment was compounded by the two Toro Rosso drivers, who claimed the third row and bumped him back to seventh. Massa was also stung by the flying STR10s, ending up ninth between the Red Bulls.

But the battle for pole position ended somewhat anticlimactically, as neither Hamilton nor Rosberg were able to improve on their final runs. That won’t have bothered Rosberg, however, as he halted Hamilton’s run of pole positions at a track where overtaking is still regarded as being difficult.

Top ten in Q3

1Nico RosbergMercedes1’24.681
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’24.948
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’25.458
4Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’25.694
5Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’26.136
6Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Renault1’26.249
7Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’26.414
8Daniil KvyatRed Bull-Renault1’26.629
9Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’26.757
10Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’26.770

2015 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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82 comments on “Rosberg halts Hamilton’s pole run in Spain”

  1. Michal (@michal2009b)
    9th May 2015, 14:09

    So slow and so boring, non-Hamilton pole the only good thing.

    1. Well, as Hamilton has routinely duffed up Rosberg in races by passing him repeatedly even when being outqualified by Nico, and with Rosberg never having passed Lewis once to claim victory……..I would say Lewis is still the odds on favorite for victory on Sunday, barring mechanical problems.

      1. I would say the same for (almost) any other track, but in Barcelona pole position is very impostant. If Nico manages to not stuff up at the start and leads at the first corner, it will be almost impossible for Lewis to beat him

        1. The problem of Nico is that there is a long-long straight until the first corner. I believe even Vettel can jump Rosberg on the start. And Bottas just has to make a usual Alonso-move starting from the forth position:-)

  2. The most entertaining part of this quali is yet to come – Kimi’s fans making up excuses for him.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      9th May 2015, 14:16

      And then the inevitable Driver of the Weekend votes when he recovers to 4th.

      1. hahaha so true.

      2. How many positions in start alone do you think he will gain? If someone doesn’t crash into him, like a resurgent Alonso going for 1 in his McLaren. Get that McLaren out of the way….

    2. They don’t need to make up excuses as they have a very good and very valid one: Vettlel.

      1. You should say that to Ricciardo fans… ;)

        1. Not good to blow the Ricciardo trumpet when he was beaten by a rookie in Kvyat.

          1. @davidnotcoulthard Second season in F1, he definitely is.

          2. @evered7 What I meant to say was, is Ricciardo beaten by Kvyat?

            No, he isn’t.

          3. @davidnotcoulthard I see Kvyat at 8th and Ricciardo at 10th. Generally in F1, the higher the position the faster. So in this case, I can safely confirm that Kvyat has beaten Ricciardo.

          4. I thought last season Ricciardo was rookie, sooo….


            OK, excuse the all caps. My point is…….one single session doesn’t weigh much at all. Championship standings matter more, and RIC is way above KVY there.

            So I wouldn’t say KVY’s beaten RIC, nevermind “safely” (in front of the computer so I can’t do anything to you?:) so.

          6. @davidnotcoulthard

            Not good to blow the Ricciardo trumpet when he was beaten by a rookie in Kvyat.

            Ricciardo may well beat Kvyat come the end of season. But to mention Ricciardo today to slight Vettel would be a lil out of place since he was beaten by Kvyat.

            ‘Was beaten’. Is it true? Yes. End of my participance in this pointless debate.

          7. But to mention Ricciardo today to slight Vettel would be a lil out of place since he was beaten by Kvyat.

            Which rarely matters to readers as far as I know. Other readers to conform/correct my statement please! :)

          8. @bolo

            I thought last season Ricciardo was rookie, sooo….

            RIC was not a rookie

          9. @Oletros Yeah, that was the point :D If Ric last season was considered rookie by some, Kvyat is properly rookie.

          10. I didn’t understand why people were calling Ricciardo a rookie last year. Before his 2014 season he had had two full seasons with Toro Rosso and a half-season with HRT, so he was basically in his 3rd-and-a-half season.

            By that point in their careers respective careers, Alonso had 2 poles and a win, Vettel had 5 poles, 5 wins and had finished runner-up in the 2009 championship, and Hamilton had 13 poles, 9 wins, had finished runner-up in the 2007 championship and won the 2008 championship.
            Not doubting Ricciardo’s ability at all – he never had the car to get any poles or wins when he was at HRT/Toro Rosso and his 2014 season was incredibly impressive. But you’re not a rookie if you’re in your 3rd (and a half) season, and ALO/HAM/VET showed that you can still perform at a very high level in your early seasons (best example being HAM 2007).

    3. excuses! why does one need to make excuses? Doesn’t suprise me at all that he qualified so low. It was up to him and his crew to sort out the issues during FP 1, 2 and 3. They didn’t, tough luck, just hope he has a back to front race tomorrow and scores points because no one ever became champion just by getting pole alone.

    4. I think the excuse will be that Kimi was put off his game by the rumors of Bottas signing a pre-contract for 2016 with Ferrari. I would argue that that bit of news should have made the Kimster more focused and determined, but there it is…..

    5. Actually, Vettel has a newer version of the car. It was expected that Kimi will lose.

      1. @slava I hope you’re not hoping Kimi to do a stunt by saying what WEB said about Silverstone 2010.

        1. I do not recall what Webber said there.
          BTW, I have just read that Kimi tyres for the last qualifying lap were destroyed by this warming/heating staff (don’t know how it is called).
          I do not think Kimi is lying, so it was a fault made by Ferrari mechanics.

          1. They were horrid today, that’s for sure. He was in traffic, had problem with his ERS etc.. It is not even clear why he is using old car+front/rear wings. Was that his choice because he wasn’t happy yesterday with sliding around, or did the team tell him to go like that? It’s not like there was only 1 part and they gave it to Vettel.

          2. Did you even read the stuff you just wrote?I’m a Ferrari fan and gonna admit that Kimi just didn’t deliver: nada,no bueno,bad lap,caput!He chose himself to not have all the upgrades bolted on before parc ferme’ for qualy and race.Also please don’t give that rubbish about tyres or mechanics.Hope we get Hulk next year

          3. @slava I was trying to make a joke about his #2 driver remark.

            Didn’t work out, did it? :( (Probably due to me forgetting to add a smiley at the end)

          4. It’s a joint decision with team that he got out with old specs.
            He had ERS problem in his last fast lap in 3rd practice that would have indicated which car is faster, so going in qualifying they didn’t even know which car was gonna be faster.
            In Q3 one set of tyres got burnt by blankets.
            His Q3 lap was .4 sec slower than Q2. That’s not all on him though.

        2. @davidnotcoulthard – sorry, I misunderstood you:-) I see what you mean.

  3. Ha, so we have a race for the win tomorrow.

  4. petebaldwin (@)
    9th May 2015, 14:15

    Should be a great fight tomorrow by the looks of it between the Mercs. Another terrible qualifying performance from Kimi though…

    5th & 6th for Toro Rosso. Shows that Red Bull’s issues aren’t all engine related!

  5. C’mon Kimi :/ This is as depressing as it gets.

    1. Fikri Harish (@)
      9th May 2015, 16:06

      If you think that was depressing, I’m honestly mystified you didn’t comment suicide after the 2014 season ended the way it was for Alonso and Raikkonen.

      1. I don’t care when Kimi gets beaten by Alonso for 7th place.

        But seeing him 7th while his team mate is a serious threat for the win, that’s depressing.

        1. Fikri Harish (@)
          10th May 2015, 2:57

          Seriously? Raikkonen scored a meager one-third of Alonso’s total points haul.

          And yet this is somehow more depressing?

          1. Well, when I think of Alonso it gets so depressing that, the fact that KR got one third of his points doesn’t even register…

  6. Toro Rosso out-performing Red Bull was the best part of this qualifying session.

    1. But but … it’s the engine, right?

    2. And so well covered in the revue “Massa split the Red Bulls” ah! so that’s what happened/

  7. Horner can stop whining about the Renault engine now!

    1. Renault engine is still bad, even if TR is ahead of them. Makes no difference.

      1. Of course it makes a difference. A lot of us have been unimpressed with Red Bull’s disloyalty and finger-pointing, now here they are not even as fast as the junior team with the same engine. Flack richly deserved.

        1. Aqib (@aqibqadeer)
          9th May 2015, 15:05

          its probably because red bull have had very little running in the practice sessions and havent been able to dial in the optimum setup that they would want

          1. that should be the matter of a couple of tenths though and some consistency, redbull should be a second up the road from toro rosso with their budget.

        2. That’s a really naive way of looking at it, Red Bull always create cars on the extreme edge reliability wise, it’s what Newey does. Of course then the reliability will be worse, therefore to save the engines they will detune them and do less running, therefore less data and less performance from the engine in the short term. Maybe they were a bit too aggressive this year, but the RB11 is not worse than the STR 10 just more fragile early in the season. It’s similar to the MP4 30, McLaren could have played it safe, so they’d have more engine performance available right now, but have less performance to gain in the future than a more advanced car which struggles for reliability now but will perform a lot better than the more safe car at the end of the season.

          1. Never mind being impolite @williamstuart and missing the point. The Red Bull is NOT AS FAST as the Torro Rosso HERE, which is all I said.

            As for your theory, let us see. Perhaps they have come up with a car that can’t cool its engine; maybe it’s naive to think that’s not clever ;) The short nose hasn’t achieved anything yet, at this rather aero circuit. Anyway for now their behaviour makes a little snigger too tempting, sorry.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        9th May 2015, 17:15

        @f1fan123 – You’re right, the engine is rubbish. Toro Rosso have qualified well but what’s the chance of both of them seeing the chequered flag?

        Red Bull blaming Renault makes it sound like they have the best car but are struggling because of the engine but they aren’t even the fastest Renault powered team so that can’t be true!

    2. I don’t see why the Renault engine is THAT bad. Reliability is bad, but if you see at the Q3, we have 4 Mercedes cars, 4 Renault cars and of course the 2 Ferrari.

      1. They’re like 15 kmh down on the main straight compared to mercedes. Bottom line –> renault is as bad as they’re making it out to be.

        1. Maybe, but the rookie training school are only 1.7 off pole. That suggests that if Red Bull get themselves sorted out (i.e. go faster than their B-team), they’ll be around Ferrari or so, which isn’t bad.

        2. They have always been down in straight line speed. Vettel always had the worst engine compared to McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes.

          1. True, but at least in the V8 era Renault used to have the best engine-mapping which allowed for more drivability and therefore more traction in corners (+less tyre wear), and their engine was also the one that was best optimised for exhaust blowing from late 2010-2013. Plus it was generally more reliable than the Mercedes engines. So they at least a few advantages over their competitors to compensate for the power deficit.

            But now the Renault engine (PU) is just inferior in every way.

    3. Adrian Newey was not the creator of this year Redbull and you can tell that by seeing the results.

      1. The RB11 is actually the last Newey built Red Bull, and remember that he created the RB3 and RB4 back in 2007 & 2008, which both did worse than this car.

      2. How convenient. Of course if it was sweeping all before it Newey would get the credit.

  8. BJ (@beejis60)
    9th May 2015, 14:52

    RBR sure gained a lot with that $3m, 1 second nose, eh?

  9. Aqib (@aqibqadeer)
    9th May 2015, 15:08

    Fun Fact: red bull this year are even slower than last year and i believe the renault engine is not even as good as it was at the end of last year but this is also partly havent done enough running in the practice sessions

  10. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    9th May 2015, 15:18

    I’m a diehard Lewis fan, but wow, what a fantastic lap by Rosberg! Should be an entertaining race tomorrow :)

    1. I agree! Interesting statistic: if Rosberg wins the race, then it will mean 9 different winners in the last 9 races at Barcelona, running back to 2007.

      Rosberg has looked very strong here over the past 3 years – even though Hamilton out-qualified him last year, it was one of the few races in 2014 where Rosberg genuinely looked faster than Hamilton on race day. This seems to be one of Rosberg’s stronger tracks.

      Although I would say that, IMO, Barcelona was where Hamilton did one of his best ever qualifying laps, his one from 2012. watching the on-board, that lap was pretty much perfect – he ended up 6 tenths ahead of second place while Button didn’t even make Q3! Shame it didn’t count and he got disqualified and thrown to the back of the grid because McLaren accidentally under-fuelled him – although he was about half-a-lap light on fuel, that would have only given him about 0.025s weight advantage (assuming there were similar variables to Canada 2010), so it really was a great lap.

      Going back on topic though, despite the interesting top ten I’m a bit worried that we’ll just see a procession from the top 3, as overtaking is very difficult here (statistically, getting pole here is more crucial for the win than anywhere else, even Monaco). But Keith’s comment in one of the previous articles reassured me a bit – with degrading tyres and DRS, overtaking is more likely than in previous years so pole isn’t quite the be-all and end-all it used to be (2 wins from pole in the last 4 years, though TBH Merc dropping back from pole in 2013 was mainly because of their horrible tyre degradation). And Lewis has shown that he can pass for the win. But I still expect most of the passing to be done via the pit stop phase, or simply at the start into turn 1.

  11. To echo other comments. Toro roso out qualifying rbr goes to show the renault engine isn’t all bad. 4/4 cars in q3 matching mercedes is good considering Merc have 8 engines raceing considered to be the best in the field and Ferrari have 4 current engines that are considered to be a huge leap on last years effort.
    If it’s not renault it must be RBR.

    1. I have absolutely no real information on either the Renault engine or the Red Bull chassis other than the observations reported here, but the mysterious reversal of form between STR and RBR has puzzled me and I have come up with a hypothesis that may have some validity:
      RBR have operated with supreme downforce for the past 5/6 years, and may have developed a suspension system that acted in full compression most of the race relying on the tyre sidewalls to do most of the work, with less downforce due to regulation and even less to compensate for the Renaults power deficiency they may have neglected to optimize their suspension design to suit, whereas STR having always suffered from lesser downforce may have been continually looking for gains in the suspension to compensate for the lack of downforce so have been less affected by the current situation. Pure supposition, make of it what you will.

  12. wonder how much that spon in FP3 hindered Hamilton from going flat out in sector 1?

  13. 4 Mercedes, 4 Renault, 2 Ferrari into top ten. Interesting…

  14. Last year’s pole lap by Lewis was 1.25.232 . This years it is 1.24.681 . That is not a whole lot of gain compared to the BHps gained on the engine front and the aero gains of the car. I had expected the Mercedes to set the marker at Barcelona between 1.23.2 or 1.23.5 . If 1.24.6 is the best from Mercedes then then the gap can be closed by Ferrari provided they do a good job. Today they seemed to have taken a step back compared to the first 4 races of the season.

    1. Because, people compare them to Bahrain and expect results like Malaysia. But fact of the matter is they were even further back in China. Malaysia and Bahrain were anomalies and Spain is an aerodynamic circuit, so it’s not easy to compare.

    2. Part of that could be the fact that, in 2014, the track conditions were slightly cooler than they have been this year, which would have offered slightly more favourable conditions for setting a quick lap time.

    3. Simon (@weeniebeenie)
      9th May 2015, 17:00

      @tmax more saddening to me is how slow they still are in general. Mark Webber 2010 Q3 pole time, 1:19.995. I know it’s a combination of factors, tyres being the main one given the testing times, but still.

      1. Pole in 2004 was 1:15… I would like the FIA to try and increase the width of the tyres but only extend them inwards, so the width of the car isn’t much wider. It might be impossible but I don’t see why not, I know next to nothing about engineering but I don’t see why you can’t shorten the driveshaft to rear wheels. I just want the FIA to try and explore ways of increasing mechanical grip rather than aero.

        1. Just keep the rules the same until 2020 and I’m sure we’ll go well under the 1:20s

          1. Yeah. You are right! That’s also what the teams have been saying in press conference. They keep changing the rules and reset all the hardwork. If they just left it like how it is we would eventually see them going under those times.

        2. I believe that extending the tyres inwards would have aerodynamic consequences, as front tyres extending closer to the bodywork would be a major block of the airflow that teams use to get downforce at the rear of the car. But perhaps the gains made from the increased mechanical grip would outweigh the loss of rear downforce – though it certainly wouldn’t be the most efficient way to increase lap time. It should be noted that making the rear tyres wider would have few aerodynamic consequences however.

        3. Pole in 2004 was 1:15…

          It was a different track configuration, there was no chicane in the final corners, just a sweeping right hander. Webber’s 2010 Pole is the fastest in this layout.

    4. @tmax Barcelona is a track where the chassis is the most important factor, so the gains made on the PU side for 2015 will have less of an impact here than at more power-dominated tracks. The biggest reason for the times not being much faster this year at Barcelona are because of new regulations for 2015 that have compromised chassis development – the new nose regulations for 2015 have hurt downforce gains, and the minimum weight has been raised by 10kg since last year. An extra 10kg will cost about 0.3-0.4s in lap time.

      So the gains teams have made on the chassis side this year have been hurt by the new 2015 rules. However, on tracks where the PU is a larger factor we’ll likely see much larger gains over 2014. At Monza, for example, I expect to see a much bigger improvement over 2014.

  15. At least we should get a race tomorrow, but I do fear that this track is almost impossible to pass on. I was there last year and we did not see any overtaking at all, they really all just followed each other around.

    1. All I wish for tomorrow is that Rosberg has a good start and fend Lewis on the first corners. Other interesting battles will be Kimi and Massa trying to make up some ground and putting their cars where they deserve.

      1. We might see Kimi vs Bottas. It’s gonna be interesting then… Especially after Bahrain: Vettel vs Bottas. Ferrari cars are yet to overtake any Williams or RBR on track.

  16. Chris Brighton
    9th May 2015, 17:06

    Hamilton’s starts have been sublime this season. He’ll beat Rosberg off the line for sure. Then it’ll be Rosberg TRYING to catch Hamilton for the remainder of the race.

  17. The b specs cars can’t some soon enough for Force India, good to see Toro Rosso with their impressive qualy performance, hopefully it wasn’t a revved up engine.

  18. This should be a good race. Please, please don’t let this be a procession because of the track layout. Even though the track is tough to pass on, the last four races have been really good. Strategy is just as important as race pace at this track, so it could a slow burn and lead to a potential barn burner towards the final pit stops.

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