Next: German GP 20-22 July

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Lewis showed us some magic driving today!!!
Lewis Hamilton and McLaren took pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix by a commanding margin over shock front row man Pastor Maldonado's Williams. In a session full of surprises, Hamilton was half a second quicker than Maldonado, who had been rapid in final practice, topped Q2, and then held provisional pole for a while. Hamilton was the only frontrunner to do two runs in Q3, and his initial benchmark stood until first local hero Fernando Alonso in the much improved Ferrari, then the incredible Maldonado beat him. But there was still more to come from Hamilton, who produced a 1m21.707s to give McLaren its 150th Formula 1 pole. The Briton then stopped on track on his slowing-down lap. Just behind Maldonado, Alonso held second ahead of Lotus team-mates Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, who again proved extremely competitive.

Both Saubers made it into Q3, with Sergio Perez going on to take sixth, but Kamui Kobayashi consigned to 10th as his car expired on the way back to the pits at the end of Q2. Nico Rosberg was seventh after just one early run in Q3. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel starts eighth ahead of Michael Schumacher, both choosing not to set a time to conserve tyres for the race.

McLaren's Jenson Button and Mark Webber were the big casualties of qualifying, both drivers missing out on Q3 and starting 11th and 12th respectively. It means Button is faced with an uphill task in Sunday's race having struggled with the hard compound tyre throughout the weekend. It was a bad day for Felipe Massa as well, the Ferrari driver registering his worst grid position so far in this already-disappointing season as he qualified behind the Force Indias and Toro Rossos in 17th.

While Maldonado stormed towards the front, his Williams team-mate Bruno Senna pushed too hard in his efforts to keep up, spinning into the gravel at the end of Q1 and ensuring an instant exit. Vitaly Petrov outqualified Caterham team-mate Heikki Kovalainen for the first time as the back-of-the-grid teams lined up in the usual order. Charles Pic was quicker than fellow Marussia man Timo Glock, and HRT's Narain Karthikeyan will needs stewards' permission to race as apparent mechanical issues left him a long way from the 107 per cent margin.
Pos      Driver                Team              Time        Gap   
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1:21.707   
 2.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1:22.285   + 0.578 
 3.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1:22.302   + 0.595 
 4.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1:22.424   + 0.717 
 5.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1:22.487   + 0.780 
 6.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1:22.533   + 0.826 
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1:23.005   + 1.298 
 8.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     No time
 9.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             No time
10.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       No time
Q2 Fastest time: P. Maldonado 1:22.105s                    Gap
11.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1:22.944   +  0.839
12.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1:22.977   +  0.872
13.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1:23.125   +  1.020
14.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes 1:23.177   +  1.072
15.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1:23.265   +  1.160
16.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1:23.442   +  1.337
17.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1:23.444   +  1.339
Q1 Fastest time: L. Hamilton 1:22.583                      Gap
18.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1:24.981   +  2.398
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1:25.277   +  2.694
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1:25.507   +  2.924
21.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1:26.582   +  3.999
22.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1:27.032   +  4.449
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1:27.555   +  4.972
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1:31.122   +  8.539
Pastor Maldonado will start from pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton was excluded from qualifying for not returning to the pits after setting his best lap. Hamilton's McLaren was found to not have had enough fuel on board to comply with the rules that demand a car returns to the pits under its own power after qualifying with enough petrol for a one-litre sample to be provided to the FIA.

Only under circumstances of 'force majeure' are drivers allowed to stop on that slowing down lap and stopping deliberately because there is not enough fuel to finish the tour and supply that sample is not acceptable. Following a meeting with the stewards at the Spanish Grand Prix, McLaren was informed that the 'technical' problem that it suggested was the reason for Hamilton being told to stop was not enough grounds to justify its action.