2012 Spanish Grand Prix – Saturday Qualifying – Maldonado inherits pole after Hamilton demoted

The starting grid for the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix was decided after the Qualifying session was completed on track as pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton was excluded from the results on the grounds of not having returned to the pits after his pole-setting lap. This meant Pastor Maldonado inherited the P1 spot for Sunday’s race alongside Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean in third.

Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying

Kimi Raikkonen occupies the second row alongside his teammate with Sergio Perez, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Kamui Kobayashi & Henson Button rounding off the top ten.

McLaren erred in the calculations for putting in the fuel for Hamilton’s final run, which meant he had to stop on track in order to save some sample fuel in the  tank. However, that was found to be contravening the rules by the FIA Stewards, who excluded him from the Qualifying session, thereby pushing him to the back end of the grid. A fairer punishment would have been to drop him to the end of the top ten as the misdemeanour occurred in Q3!

Well, that does spice up what was building up to be an already exciting race in prospect on Sunday; what with the tyre poker played by most of the teams – choosing to save a softer tyre for the race. And the fact that lesser-fancied teams like Lotus and Sauber are in the top ten with McLaren and Red Bull in towards the lower end of the grid.

Q1’s shenanigans saw Bruno Senna failing to emulate his teammate’s good run and spin out on track in his final timed lap, thereby failing it to make it to Q2 as a result. Caterham, Marussia & HRT cars joined him in Q1’s exclusions. Q2 threw out a surprising result right at the end as Mark Webber and Jenson Button failing it to make the cut into Q3. Felipe Massa also failing to make it was no surprise, of course! The two Toro Rossos and the two Force Indias bowed out of Q2 alongside them.

It remains to be seen whether Maldonado can hold off the likes of Alonso and the two Lotuses at the start of the race. And with the likes of Vettel & Rosberg also in the top end of the field, would make it for an exciting first few laps. I would not bet against a fifth different winner this season (Kimi!) but I kinda think Vettel will have the race pace to challenge for the win. Wouldn’t rule out Alonso or Rosberg either.

Prediction: Vettel, Alonso and Schumacher as the top three finishers

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