Hamilton on pole in Spainposted in F112 | 05 | 2012
LEWIS HAMILTON TOOK starts tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix at the Curcuit de Catalunya from the No1 slot after taking McLaren's 150th pole position. But there was disappointment for his team-mate Jenson Button. The former world champ starts a disappointing 11th, alongside the Red Bull of Mark Webber, and two places ahead of the Sahara Force India of Scotland's Paul di Resta.
In what was a topsy-turvy qualifying session, Hamilton finished 0.578secs ahead of the Williams of Pastor Maldonado, who starts from the first row of the grid for the first time.
Local hero Fernando Alonso qualified his Ferrari a rather surprising third, followed by the two Lotus cars of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, who line up fourth and fifth respectively.
And while Sergio Perez and Nico Rosberg start sixth and seventh in their Sauber and Mercedes, non of the final three drivers — Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) of Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) — posted times in the final session.
Hamilton (pictured today), yet to win a race this season, despite being second in the title race, just four points behind Vettel, was delighted with his third pole of the year.
Scot Paul di Resta faces tough day in Spain
"It was a fantastic qualifying session for me, very very happy with it; one of the best I ever had," Hamilton admitted. "An amazing job by the guys in the garage and thanks to guys in factory who have brought upgrades.
"The car feels great. It is a great day for the team I think. I really feel fantastic. I feel very, very happy.
"You can normally be happy with a position but for some reason this feels better than other pole positions because you are looking for a perfect position. It is an incredible feeling you have."
"I am very much aware that I have incredibly tough race tomorrow. It will mean a lot to me to win in Spain."
Double world champ Vettel, meanwhile, admitted he felt it would have been impossible to have qualified in the top five if he had set a time in Q3.
"A pretty different session today; it was extremely tight," he German said. "From Q1 onwards we decided to go on the soft tyres. The first run in Q2 wasn't good enough, so I had to go again and it was clear then that if we made it to Q3, we wouldn't have any new soft tyres left.
See today's official photos of Paul di Resta in action in Spain
"I think we got the maximum at the end there in Q3, we saved some sets of tyres, which we thought going into qualifying would be crucial, but we didn't have the pace of the top five cars today. Tyres will be important tomorrow, so let's see what we can do."
And Schumacher, who has become a stern critic of the Pirelli tyres, and their growing influence on F1 results, defended his decision not to run in Q3.
"We wanted to save tyres this afternoon, which dictated how we managed Q3," the seven-times world champ said. "I did not complete a timed lap, and now I still have the choice of what tyres to start on tomorrow. Equally, I thought it was better to start from ninth on the grid than eighth, and be on the clean side."
Formula 1 — Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona (Qualifying):
1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m21.707s;
2. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m22.285s +0.578;
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.302s +0.595;
4. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m22.424s +0.717;
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m22.487s +0.780;
6. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m22.533s +0.826;
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.005s +1.298;
8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault No time;
9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes No time;
10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari No time;
Q2 cut-off time: 1m22.904s Gap **
11. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.944s +0.839;
12. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m22.977s +0.872;
13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m23.125s +1.020;
14. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m23.177s +1.072;
15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.265s +1.160;
16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.442s +1.337;
17. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.444s +1.339;
Q1 cut-off time: 1m24.362s Gap *
18. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m24.981s +2.398;
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m25.277s +2.694;
20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m25.507s +2.924;
21. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.582s +3.999;
22. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.032s +4.449;
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m27.555s +4.972;
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m31.122s +8.539.
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