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Rosberg hits back to take Barcelona pole

NEWS STORY
09/05/2015

While it was Lewis Hamilton who won here twelve months ago, it was around this time also that Nico Rosberg's title bid really got underway.

With his teammate having won three of the opening four races, what better time - at a circuit where 11 of the previous 13 winners have started from pole - for the German to kick-start his 2015 bid by showing some of the fighting spirit we witnessed last season and taking pole.

While the Ferraris were around a second off the pace in FP1, they have looked stronger ever since, particularly on the option rubber and on longer runs. Sebastian Vettel was only 0.156s off Rosberg's pace this morning while teammate Raikkonen, victim of another team error, was 0.923s off the pace.

A spin, at the same corner where Fernando Alonso crashed pre-season, left Hamilton in third, his pace in FP2 however, suggests that the Briton is very much up for the fight.

As expected, front tyre wear - as opposed to rear - is causing problems and as a result there have been offs a plenty. However, it was a dip into the Astro Turf that sent the world champion into a spin.

Despite the numerous updates, the pecking order doesn't appear to have changed much indeed, nor does the fortune of some teams, Red Bull continuing to suffer engine issues, whilst Force India - awaiting the arrival of its B chassis - is at sixes and sevens.

Particularly impressive this weekend (thus far) has been the Toro Rosso duo, whilst McLaren is also showing genuine signs of progress. As ever, Williams is slow to show its hand but in all honesty still appears to be behind Ferrari.

Ahead of Q1, the air temperature is 25 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 44 degrees. It is bright, sunny but breezy. According to the FIA the risk of rain is 0%.

The lights go green but there is no rush to get to work. After a couple of minutes Merhi heads down the pitlane. The Spaniard is already on the option rubber.

As Merhi begins his flying lap, Hamilton and Hulkenberg head down the pitlane, the Briton on primes.

The Manor crosses the line at 1:32.038 however, that is likely to be knocked into oblivion very soon as Hamilton begin his flying lap.

Hulkenberg posts 28.677 as Rosberg locks-up at T13.

Hamilton posts an ultra-conservative 36.471 as Sainz (prime) goes quickest with a 28.492.

Mixed choices as far as tyres are concerned, while most are on primes, Hulkenberg, Nasr, Perez, Stevens and Merhi are on the softer rubber. There is a delta of around 1.5s between the two compounds.

A 27.677 sees Rosberg go top of the timesheets but Hamilton is on a hot lap. No sooner has Raikkonen gone fourth (28.690) than Hamilton posts 27.322.

Vettel goes third (27.926) as his team apologises to Raikkonen for the traffic. The Finn is not best pleased. "Yes, not ideal... and I had no rear grip!"

"Grip is really poor," complains Hamilton, as he enjoys his 0.355s advantage over his teammate.

Massa goes fourth (27.930) ahead of the McLaren duo, both of whom are on the option rubber. Indeed, in fifth, Alonso is the highest placed option runner.

With under five minutes remaining, Kvyat and the Lotus duo join the Manor boys in the drop zone.

Raikkonen, demoted to eleventh, goes out again, this time on options. Hamilton and Rosberg are also back on track, but on primes.

As Hamilton improves in S1, Raikkonen goes quickest. In the second sector the situation is reversed. Hamilton raises the bar with a 26.832 as the Ferrari takes second with a 26.637.

The drop zone still comprises the Lotus duo and Kvyat, with Nasr and Bottas hovering.

As the flag comes out, all but Hulkenberg are on track.

Sainz goes fourth and Kvyat tenth, with the Lotus duo taking sixth and seventh.

Button drops into the drop zone along with Hulkenberg. The Briton improves to thirteenth, thereby demoting his teammate to fifteenth.

Hamilton remains quickest, ahead of Rosberg, Raikkonen, Sainz, Massa, Bottas (see how quickly these things change), Maldonado, Grosjean, Verstappen and Vettel.

We lose Ericsson, Hulkenberg, Perez, Stevens and Merhi.

For the first time this season, both McLarens are through to Q2.

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