Saturday, May 9, 2015

Spanish Formula 1 Qualifying Tips Advantage to Rosberg

The fifth event of the 2015 season, the Spanish Grand Prix is celebrated as the beginning of Formula 1's traditional run. With Mercedes AMG continuing to be the gold standard of the Formula 1 field, Barcelona welcomes a slightly more competitive group of race cars. Ferrari with driver Sebastian Vettel broke through to spoil an attempt at early season dominance winning in Malaysia. A focused Williams team is also present in 2015 at the start of Formula 1's European tour. 

In preparation for qualifying at the 14-turn 4.655-kilometer Circuit de Catalunya, Mercedes AMG set the top time in all three practice sessions. Three-time winner Lewis Hamilton was upstaged in two of the three warm-ups heading into the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. In the Q1 grouping, Hamilton sent a message to his teammate posting a top time 1-minute, 26.382 seconds to exit the segment in the lead. However, in the following two sessions, Nico Rosberg and his Mercedes AMG F1 W06 Hybrid proved too fast for the reigning World Driver's Champion to eclipse. Rosberg's final Q3 session lap time was 1-minute, 24.681 seconds. Lewis Hamilton speed was enough to place his race car in the under 1-minute, 25-second territory but was 0.267 seconds slower than his German teammate. With the pole position for Nico Rosberg, Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix will be the first race of 2015 not to have Hamilton in the prime starting spot.

Third fastest with a time that lacked 0.777 seconds off the mark of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel are still optimistically placed for the Spanish Grand Prix. Before the win this season, the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix was Ferrari's last win with Fernando Alonso wheeling a F138 chassis. Starting alongside Vettel on the second row Sunday will be the Williams-Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. Both Vettel and Bottas out-qualified their teammate that still left qualifying with top-10 starting spots.

In the third row for the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix is the young guns of Toro Rosso. Impressing on his home track, Carlos Sainz Jr. was more than a tenth of a second faster than his teammate Max Verstappen. The combined effort of the so-called junior team to Red Bull Racing overshadowed their parent company. For the first time this season, the Red Bull-Renault Daniil Kvyat will start eighth place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who is starting tenth.

For some Formula 1 teams, the Spanish Grand Prix marking the start of the European calendar has presented a renewed sense of hope after difficulties in the first races of 2015. For no other team have the struggles of 2015 been more apparent than with the McLaren Honda organization. Despite a team with two World Championship-wining drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso as well as an over 50-year-old kinship to the sport, McLaren Honda has been fighting an uphill battle to escape Q1 in qualifying in the opening four rounds of the 2015 Formula 1 season. On the Circuit de Catalunya, the team's faithful have witnessed first hand improvements in the efforts of McLaren and its new Honda hybrid powerplant. Both team cars broke into the Q2 segment resulting in a 13th place for Alonso and a 14th start for Button.

The Spanish Grand Prix is set for start at 8:00am eastern time.

2015 Formula 1

Spanish Grand Prix

Qualifying Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
5 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
6 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
8 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault
9 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
10 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
11 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz
12 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz
13 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
14 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
15 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
16 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
17 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
18 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
19 28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari
20 98 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia Ferrari