Mercedes are to start the Spanish Grand Prix from the front row after Nico Rosberg posted the fastest qualifying time ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton yesterday.
Hamilton had the fastest times in the first two qualifying sessions, but Rosberg just edged him out to take pole position in 1 minute, 20.718 seconds to earn his second consecutive pole.
“The race is very long and to win, it’s not good enough to start from pole — you still have to have the fastest race car,” said Rosberg, who finished ninth in Bahrain after taking pole. “I’m a little bit more confident for tomorrow, but the race is going to be a completely different thing.”
Three-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel will start from third spot for Red Bull ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus.
“I’m quite happy, to be honest, because yesterday and this morning I wasn’t really happy. We improved the car and things calmed down,” Vettel said. “It’s a tough challenge and the tires don’t last as well as we would like.”
The degradation of the Pirelli tires has been an issue all season, and drivers are still largely unhappy at how quickly they wear out.
Ferrari have yet to secure a pole position this season, and it proved to be another frustrating afternoon after fast practice times in the morning. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will start from fifth and sixth, respectively.
Jenson Button’s misery continued as he failed to make the cut for the third session. The Briton will start back in 14th place, with teammate Sergio Perez in ninth spot.
Earlier, Massa was fastest in the third and final practice session, edging out Raikkonen by .006 seconds. Red Bull driver Mark Webber was third, but he had a poor qualifying session and will start from eighth place, behind Lotus’ Romain Grosjean.
Following three frustrating seasons, Ferrari want their drivers to find extra speed in qualifying to increase the pressure on Red Bull. Once again, however, those hopes were unfulfilled.
The closest Ferrari have been to pole was when Massa qualified second at the Malaysian Grand Prix in March. Alonso started the previous three races from third spot on the grid, but yesterday’s run will have left home fans on the Circuit de Catalunya feeling disappointed.
Mercedes have been fast, but lacking durability this season, so Hamilton and Rosberg stayed on longer runs than other drivers in practice.