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Lewis Hamilton take pole position for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix. The season is turning into a race between Mercedes and then everyone else and since we’re focusing on two cars that are more than one second faster than everyone else, the numbers are like this for pole positions:

Hamilton: 4

Rosberg: 1

The session also saw the Lotus team “Pastorized” once again with Maldonado’s crash in Q1 and it also corroborated Ferrari’s poor form at the circuit which Fernando Alonso tried to warn his Spanish fans about prior to the weekend. The grid looks like this for Sunday’s race:

1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1min 25.232secs,

2 Nico Rosberg(Ger)Mercedes GP 1:25.400,

3 Daniel Ricciardo(Aus)Red Bull 1:26.285,

4 Valtteri Bottas(Fin)Williams 1:26.632,

5 Romain Grosjean(Fra)Lotus F1 Team 1:26.960,

6 Kimi Raikkonen(Fin)Ferrari 1:27.104,

7 Fernando Alonso(Spa)Ferrari 1:27.140,

8 Jenson Button(Gbr)McLaren 1:27.335,

9 Felipe Massa(Bra)Williams 1:27.402,

10 Sebastian Vettel(Ger)Red Bull No Time,

11 Nico Hulkenberg(Ger)Force India 1:27.685,

12 Sergio Perez(Mex)Force India 1:28.002,

13 Daniil Kvyat(Rus)Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:28.039,

14 Esteban Gutierrez(Mex)Sauber-Ferrari 1:28.280,

15 Kevin Magnussen(Den)McLaren No Time,

16 Jean-Eric Vergne(Fra)Scuderia Toro Rosso No Time,

17 Adrian Sutil(Ger)Sauber-Ferrari 1:28.563,

18 Max Chilton(Gbr)Marussia 1:29.586,

19 Jules Bianchi(Fra)Marussia 1:30.177,

20 Marcus Ericsson(Swe)Caterham 1:30.312,

21 Kamui Kobayashi(Jpn)Caterham 1:30.375,

22 Pastor Maldonado(Ven) Lotus F1 Team No Time

The upswing is that Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo is still doing well and has clawed to within one second of the Mercedes team. His teammate and 4-time champion Sebastian Vettel stopped in Q3 with apparent transmission issues which prompted big cheers from the crowd.

Max Chilton handed his teammate and both Caterhams their backsides in qualifying and was a well deserved 18th. Also in the good news category, Lotus’s Romain Grosjean found some pace in the struggling car and managed to place 6th ahead of Ferrari.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Nice to see Kimi on his way up. He slowly seems to get a handle of his car, beating Alonso for the second time this year in qualifying.

    It was very unfortunate for Vettel to suffer one disaster after the other this weekend, as it prevented us from seeing how his struggle with the RB10 develops. While Ricciardo still seemed to be more comfortable in his car, Vettel also looked good, particularly after barely being able to run on Friday. For the race, this is bad news for Seb, as Barcelona isn’t a track that is particularly easy to overtake on, particularly if you are sporting a Renault engine like Red Bull and when you’re stuck behind a load of Mercedes cars. So he certainly needs a brilliant pit stop strategy if he wants to advance. I’m guessing that he will try something unorthodox, either he will start on the hard compound, trying to get through with just one stop, or he will pit very early and then drive one qualifying lap after the other, pitting three or four times.

    As for Mercedes, Lewis was quicker all weekend, but during qualification, Nico was right up there all of a sudden and his final lap was brilliant. Too bad for him that Lewis’ time was even better. But it must have been scary for everyone else to see that Mercedes still is this dominant. I mean Ricciardo was off by 1 second in third place, Bottas was off by 1.4 in fourth, then Grosjean 1.7, Kimi and Fernando 1.9, Button 2.1… That’s just mind-boggling.

    And of course it’s nice to have Lotus back in the fold after them taking off the first couple of races…At least behind the Mercedes duo this should help reshuffling the cards and strengthening the competition.

  • -Goodness, where did Grojean come from? Guess all the Lotus bulls_t press releases these last few weeks were in fact substantive. Quick look at the sector times show Lotus losing out mostly in the power areas; well done. But, oh, Pastor…

    -Kimi’s car looked very lively in his hands, contradicting what I typically think is his smoother, less energetic style. He’s up 2-0 on Alonso in the dry, no? Either way, Ferrari’s long run pace looks poor, Alonso P6, Raikkonen P7 tomorrow?

    -I too lament Vettel’s issues; I want to see how he stacks up to Ricciardo pace-wise, race by race.

    -Force India hinted at a challenging weekend, but still disheartening. In contrast, Sauber, despite the grid positions, have indeed progressed. Williams really is “there,” if it can put together a mistake-free weekend and improve tire life/end-of-stint pace.

    The Merc v. Others gap looks the same as before in Quali and stint pace, Ferrari as predicted still struggling… For me, the only real surprise is the Lotus team; the updates I’ve seen appear comparatively minor, yet they could be challenging Mclaren in the race. Welcome back.

    Sidenote: A Tifosi and car nut mentioned a rumor LaFerrari track version might have a V6 hybrid turbo in the future; anyone heard this? Will look up when home, but curious. 458; amazing car, if a bit twitchy on the steering and with stupid blinker buttons on the steering wheel.

    • No kidding! Looks like Lotus is a team highly motivated and to be honest, they look like they’ve done more than Ferrari. Good on them! I hope they do well this weekend. they need it.

      • Lotus was very confident about the direction they took regarding their design even before the first test and throughout all the weeks till now. So I’m guessing that their car is fundamentally very solid. They have struggled more than others with the Renault engine, overheating and with reliability. I don’t think their gains are therefore down to having “done more”, but rather to getting a handle on their problems. Keep in mind, they missed the first preseason test and ran very few miles before the first race.

    • You’re right that the gap between Mercedes and the rest looks similar to before, but keep in mind that:
      a) The track at Barcelona is significantly shorter. Melbourne is around 5km, Sepang, Bahrain and Shanghai are all around 5.5km. Barcelona is only 4.5 km.
      b) Barcelona is an aero track, which should minimize the engine advantage.

      In other words, if anything, Mercedes has increased its overall advantage.

      As for Force India, looking at past seasons they always excelled at high speed courses while having trouble at aero courses. Therefore I wasn’t surprised that they’re struggling a bit in Barcelona. I expect them to do much better on other tracks. Certainly in Canada, but maybe already in Monaco, which might not be a high speed track, in fact it’s the opposite, but neither is it a traditional aero track.

      • I regarded Lotus’ talk of a good base package as sponsor-hunting; clearly was wrong. It’s true Grojean showed a flash in China Quali and Maldo in the race according to lap times, but still… I’m watching Spain’s practices in a few hours w/ hindsight benefit; wonder if the clues were there Friday.

        Tom, good point on FI being historically better on balance v. brute downforce tracks, but I’m still surprised. FI’s sector 1 times were weak, and the car looks like the Ferrari through T’s 4-6, slow to nose in, and then the back end snapping mid corner. As it stands, I see FI being poor in Monaco, better in Canada, and most significantly, being left behind Williams (plus the expected Ferrari/Mclaren) shortly, and even Sauber by season’s end. Unfortunate for Mssrs. Fernley, Hulkenberg and Perez.

        I really hope Ferrari can challenge over the next few races; it brought some Aero and IMO more significant PU/ancillaries packaging updates here, but with little ground made over its competition so far. Montezemolo is palatable when the team’s fighting, a bore when it isn’t.

        Sunny day+Driving fast cars+Giants v. Dodgers+F1 tonight= Best day Ever.

    • Tom Firth

      By LaFerrari track version are you referring to a GT racing spec, or a track version as in consumer trackday car ?

      • I was told a customer-leased track day car a la an Enzo-based FXX, not a Challenge-type for actual racing.

        This is from an owner and not an insider, so grain of salt applies. I did reach out to an acquaintance who writes about the industry, but LaFerrari embargo stuff hamstrung him.

        • Tom Firth

          Yes, an XX version is in development, confirmed by Ferrari through the motoring press to be in development at the end of last month with a hybrid system integrated, will be customer leased like the FXX and not road legal.

          • Have you heard anything about the power plant? I was surprised when he mentioned the v6T-hybrid system, but it makes sense in a way, as the XX cars ostensibly allows Ferrari to monitor customer usage habits and preferences and develop/refine road and race technologies.

            I haven’t seen any concrete reports or insider allusions, so it could just be a dealer waxing rhapsodic to a customer.

  • Brody

    I seem to remember there were questions by some whether if Lewis could be faster than Nico at Barcelona, during qualifying conditions that were in the dry. Looks as if Hamilton answered that question that he surely could, at Barcelona today.