Untouchable Hamilton

10/05/2014
NEWS STORY

Though Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets in this morning's session, one cannot help but feel that this was a minor blip, a slight distraction, as teammate Lewis Hamilton prepares to take victory here for the first time.

While it was unlikely the German's time would be beaten, but for a mistake in the final corner of an admittedly unusually scruffy lap, Hamilton would surely have been a lot closer than the 0.869s the history books will record.

Looking supreme yesterday we can expect the Englishman to be at the front again this afternoon in the much warmer conditions.

Taking the Mercedes duo out of the equation, the battle behind is truly fascinating, even if FP3 threw a few more spanners in the works.

Though Felipe Massa was fourth fastest this morning, Williams limited running and the drop off in form since Melbourne suggests that this too was a bit of a blip, whilst Jenson Button's insistence on pouring cold water on yesterday morning's performance suggests that McLaren too has a long way to go.

Despite being some way off the Mercedes pace, Red Bull, Ferrari and, to a lesser extent, Lotus look to be next up ahead of Toro Rosso a disappointing Force India and an increasingly frustrating Sauber.

Tyre choices are hard and medium whilst the two DRS zones are on the main straight and on the shorter back straight between Turns 9 and 10.

Minutes before the start of the session the air temperature is 26 degrees C, while the track temperature is 42 degrees.

The lights go green and the Sauber duo lead the way, Gutierrez ahead of Sutil. The Force India duo follow.

All the Ferrari teams have changed their MGU-K units since this morning apparently. An odd move, which clearly follows a directive from Maranello.

As Hulkenberg goes quickest (28.856), it's game over for Maldonado who crashes out on his out laps at T3, thereby bringing out the red flag. A disappointing end for the Venezuelan who won here in 2012.

It is a very odd incident. He loses it in T1 but manages to control it before losing it again in T3 and eventually hitting the wall on the inside.

The marshals make a real pig's ear of removing the stricken car, almost smashing it against the crane as they lift it.

The session resumes and Rosberg leads the way, Bianchi and Ericsson already on the softer rubber.

Unsurprisingly, Rosberg goes quickest in the first two sectors, finally crossing the line at 26.764. Bottas goes second with a 28.198, while Ricciardo can only manage 28.791, 2.027s off Rosberg's pace.

Problems for Grosjean, Vettel and Hamilton, all struggling to keep their cars under control.

Vettel posts 27.958 to go second but is almost instantly demoted by Hamilton who breaks the timing beam at 27.238.

A real squeal from the tyres on Raikkonen's Ferrari as Hulkenberg heads out of the option rubber.

Hamilton goes quickest in S1 as Kvyat, Gutierrez and Vergne switch to mediums. The Mercedes driver subsequently aborts his lap.

Button complains that he is struggling to get his fronts working.

"Not sure how, but the car is worse," complains Hamilton as Kvyat improves to fifth on the softer rubber.

"This car is so unstable," says Hulkenberg, "it is unreal." The German improves to sixth (28.155) but he is far from happy.

As Ricciardo improves to fourth (28.053) the Red Bull wobbles in the final corner, everyone struggling to remain on the black stuff.

Just outside the drop zone, Magnussen fits the softer rubber, as does teammate Button. If not in Q1, in Q2 we're going to see some big names fail.

The Dane improves to eleventh (28.389) as Raikkonen is lucky not to hit a Toro Rosso leaving the pits.

Sutil fails to improve on sixteenth as the chequered flag is waved, while Button improves to ninth.

Rosberg is quickest, ahead of Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo, Massa, Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Vergne, Bottas and Button.

We lose Sutil, Chilton, Bianchi, Ericsson, Kobayashi and Maldonado.

Q2 gets underway and as ever there is no rush to get to work. Interestingly, in Q1, P4 to P16 was covered by just 0.5s. It's tight, very tight.

Eventually, the Force India duo head down the pitlane, both sporting the softer rubber.

As the Force India duo begin their first flying laps, the Williams duo get to work.

Hulkenberg posts 27.863 while teammate Perez crosses the line at 28.002.

More and more drivers pour onto the track, all on medium rubber bar Button.

Bottas posts 27.859 to go quickest however, Rosberg and Raikkonen are on hot laps.

Raikkonen posts 27.454 and Massa 27.733 as the camera picks up on a beautiful slide from the Finn.

A 26.088 sees Rosberg go quickest with Hamilton posting 26.210 moments later. The Mercedes duo separated by 0.122s but 1.366 ahead of the opposition.

Alonso can only manage 27.602 as Ricciardo (26.613) Vettel (27.052) and Grosjean go quicker. Button can only manage 28.177 to go twelfth.

Grosjean complains that his car is pulling to the left under braking.

Magnussen, who has not posted a time, is out of his McLaren with 3:45 still remaining. Vergne is also yet to post a time.

Ricciardo is advised that he will not be running again, suggesting that Red Bull wants to keep some medium rubber for tomorrow.

Massa and Hulkenberg are back on track, both currently through to Q3. Perez and Gutierrez - 11th and 13th - join them, as do Button and Kvyat.

McLaren reveals that Magnussen has a technical problem hence the fact that he won't be going out again.

Massa improves to fourth (27.016) watched by Suzie Wolff.

As the Ferraris head down the pitlane one wonders whether Vettel - currently fifth - is as safe as he assumes he is.

Bottas improves to eighth and Grosjean sixth. Button goes ninth thereby dropping Alonso to tenth. Kvyat's failure to improve means the Spaniard gets to live another day.

Rosberg is quickest, ahead of Hamilton, Ricciardo, Massa, Vettel, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Bottas, Button and Alonso.

We lose Hulkenberg, Perez, Kvyat, Gutierrez, Magnussen and Vergne.

Both Williams and one McLaren through to the final phase is not what we were expecting going in to the weekend, certainly not at the expense of the Force Indias.

The lights go green but the circuit is silent. Shortly after a couple of engines fire up and Rosberg leads teammate Hamilton down the pitlane. Is this the order they'll finish?

As the Mercedes duo begin their first flying laps, all but Grosjean and Raikkonen are on track.

As Rosberg goes quickest in the first two sectors Vettel grinds to a halt at T3. "I have no drive, I'm sorry, I have no drive," he says. However, it appears his problems began as he actually left his garage.

Out come the red flags as the stricken Red Bull is rescued. Mighty frustrating for Rosberg who has been on a very quick lap. Indeed, all the drivers have now effectively lost a Q3 run.

As the lights go green restarting the session, Rosberg is already at the end of the pitlane. Ashe heads out on to the track he is followed by Hamilton. Ricciardo and Alonso are also keen to get to work.

At the first split, Hamilton is quicker by just 0.006s. He's slightly quicker at the second split also. At the line Hamilton posts 26.298 while teammate Rosberg posts 26.561.

Alonso goes third (27.563) but is almost instantly leapfrogged by Ricciardo who stops the clock at 26.602.

With 3:14 on the clock, Rosberg is back on track for the final assault, joined by Hamilton, Alonso, Grosjean and Raikkonen. Slowly, one by one, the other drivers join them.

A very aggressive Raikkonen begins his flying lap.

Hamilton goes quickest in S1 as Raikkonen goes fourth overall (27.104). Hamilton is quickest again in S2. Rosberg momentarily goes quickest (25.400) but Hamilton has it covered, crossing the line at 25.232.

Ricciardo goes third and Bottas fourth, local hero Alonso only able to manage seventh.

Hamilton takes pole for the Spanish Grand prix for the first time, ahead of Rosberg, Ricciardo, Bottas, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Alonso, Button, Massa and Vettel.

Hulkenberg will start eleventh, ahead of Perez, Kvyat, Gutierrez, Magnussen, Vergne, Sutil, Chilton, Bianchi, Ericsson, Kobayashi and Maldonado.

Having seemingly pulled victory from the jaws of defeat Rosberg looks crestfallen, though he does his best to put a brave face on things.

Fact is however, other than this morning's blip, Hamilton has looked totally on top of his game all weekend. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Check out our Saturday gallery, here.

Chris Balfe

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 10/05/2014
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