Red Bull continued their vice-like grip on the pole positions for this season as Mark Webber edged out teammate Sebastian Vettel to grab the pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. The Red Bulls were fastest throughout the three practice sessions and that continued into the Qualifying sessions. Vettel and Webber traded quickest laps throughout the session and whenever Vettel posted a quick time, Webber usurped it during his run.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton grabbed 3rd spot on the grid with a late surge, unseating Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso into 4th place. Jenson Button and the rejuvenated Michael Schumacher will take up the 5th and 6th places on the grid. Renault’s Robert Kubica, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi rounded off the top ten positions. Force India’s Adrian Sutil was unlucky as he was holding onto P10 at the fag end of Q2 but Kobayashi usurped him at the last minute.
Q1 saw the usual back-of-the-grid runners getting dropped off, with Hispania’s Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna starting at the back. They were joined by the two Virin’s of Lucas Di Grassi and Timo Glock and the two Lotuses of Jarno Trulli & Heikki Kovalainen and somewhat surprisingly, the Williams of Rubens Barrichello.
Q2 had some late place swapping as Adrian Sutil just lost out on a place in the final shootout after his time was bested by the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi. The ones to drop out in this session included Sutil’s teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi, Vitaly Petrov of Renault, Pedro De La Rosa for BMW Sauber, Nico Hulkenberg for Williams and the two Toro Rossos of Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Algersuari.
The pace of the Red Bulls at the head of the field is frightening, and the rest of the drivers and teams admitted as much. Given the nature of the Catalunya track, Hamilton and alonso would have to seize their chance at the race start itself so as to harbour any hopes of victory. Of course, a canny strategy (say, from Ross Brawn) could hand the advantage to a driver but that isn’t gonna help if the Bulls have charged out into the distance.
Another thing to watch out will be the intra-team rivalry between Vettel and Webber. After being outpaced by his younger teammate for most of the season, Webber has outdone him here and he would have to be on a sharp lookout for a similar passing move that saw Vettel take the race lead at Sepang. Hopefully there will be much racing up and down the order in tomorrow’s race and that would lay the rest of the European season.
- Driver(s) to Crash Out: Massa, Hulkenberg & Kobayashi
- Retirement with hydraulic/mechanical/other failure: Michael Schumacher
- Standout performance of the Race: Fernando Alonso