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Rosberg leads Mercedes lock-out at Barcelona

NEWS STORY
11/05/2013

Ahead of today’s qualifying session the air temperature is 19 degrees C, while the track temperature is 36 degrees.

While a front row position isn’t as vital here as it is at some circuits, especially the next round of the championship, Monaco, for as long as anyone can remember the winner of the Spanish Grand Prix has started from the from row. Indeed, of the 22 Grands Prix held here, the pole-sitter has gone on to win on no less than 18 occasions.

Based on the evidence thus far, Red Bull and Ferrari are the ones to watch here, though Lotus is right up there. That said, though strong in the races, the Enstone outfit has been disappointing on Saturday afternoons. On the other hand, Mercedes, which has taken pole in the last two races, appears to suffer on Sunday.

Other than the Red Bulls, Ferrari and Lotus’, the other strong teams here this weekend are Toro Rosso and Force India, the Silverstone outfit looking good to finally deliver something, especially in the wake of the disappointment of Bahrain.

Then again, talking of disappointment, despite its much vaunted raft of updates McLaren isn’t making progress, the Woking duo will be thankful just to get to Q3 this afternoon.

At the same time, spare a thought for the other British multi-champions, Williams, who just twelve months ago scored a remarkable victory here today. As the Grove outfit, like its Woking rivals, continues to lose pace, it will surely be happy to leave here with just a point or two.

Sauber has had a pretty nondescript weekend thus far, while Caterham appears to have lost some of the edge it had in Bahrain.

Tyre options are hard – which is a revised compound to the one used previously this season – and medium. The DRS zones are on the main straight and on the back straight, between Turns 9 and 10.

The lights go green and Ricciardo leads the way, like Vergne, Hulkenberg and Maldonado who join him, he is on the hard compound.

Ricciardo posts the first time of what will be a frantic session, the Australian crossing the line at 1:24.100. Shortly after teammate Vergne posts 23.467 and Hulkenberg 23.760.

Understandably, Bianchi takes to the track on mediums, as does Van der Garde.

On his first flying lap Raikkonen posts 23.087, with teammate Grosjean going second moments later with a 23.196. Despite his softer rubber, Bianchi can only manage 25.438.

As Raikkonen looks set to improve, going quickest in S1, di Resta goes fourth overall with a 23.477.

Both Ferraris on track, Alonso, slightly quicker of the two, going quickest in S1. The Spaniard is quickest again in S2, finally crossing the line at 22.264. Teammate Massa goes second with a 22.492.

Rosberg, Perez and Button are all on track on the medium compound, as are Vettel and Hamilton.

Having gone quickest in S2, Rosberg posts 21.913 to go quickest, around 0.3s quicker than Alonso. Perez can only manage eighth (23.378) and Button seventh (23.166).

A 21.728 sees Hamilton go quickest as Vettel goes third and Webber fifth.

With 2:40 on the clock Button complains he was “massively” held up by 2012 winner Maldonado, the Williams driver still in the danger zone. The Venezuelan improves to fifteenth, thereby dropping his teammate Bottas into the danger zone. Hulkenberg also struggling to avoid the drop.

Currently ninth, Raikkonen goes quickest in S1, as Hulkenberg leapfrogs him with a 23.058. Raikkonen is quickest again in S2, however he is baulked by Gutierrez in S3. Despite losing a heap of time the Finn posts 22.210 to go fourth.

Bianchi improves to nineteenth, as both Williams remain in the danger zone. A late charge sees Van der Garde improve to nineteenth with a 24.661.

Quickest in Q1 is Hamilton, ahead of Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Grosjean, di Resta and Vergne.

We lose Bottas, 2012 pole-man and race winner Maldonado, Van der Garde, Bianchi, Chilton and Pic.

Gutierrez is first out for Q2, the Mexican followed, shortly after, by his Sauber teammate. Both are on the medium compound.

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