Nico Rosberg grabbed pole position ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and championship leader Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull in qualifying for Sunday’s Spanish Formula One Grand Prix.
Rosberg clocked a fastest lap of 1 minute 20.718 seconds, 0.254 seconds up on Hamilton, who was fastest in the first two qualifying sessions.
Three-time reigning champion Vettel was 0.336 seconds behind Rosberg and will start on the second row alongside Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus.
Next up was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and team-mate Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Mark Webber (Red Bull), Sergio Perez (McLaren) and Paul Di Resta (Force India).
Rosberg remained cautious after the experience of the Bahrain Grand Prix when he slipped down from pole to finish ninth. “Everybody’s been working hard back in the factory. We will face different issues with the tyres than we did in Bahrain. It will be a big challenge with the tyres tomorrow,” he said.
Hamilton said: “Congrats to Nico – I’m really happy for the team. It’s down to all the great work from the guys at the factory. “But we’ve got to approach tomorrow with caution because it’s going to be tough. I didn’t have two options tyre sets, but I think Nico was quicker today.”
Vettel, who leads the standings on 77 points, 10 ahead of Raikkonen, was satisfied with third on the grid. “It will be an interesting race and will be all about the tyre degradation,” he said.
It was a disappointing qualifying meanwhile for McLaren’s Jenson Button, who went out in the second session.
The two Sauber drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez, the Toro Rosso pair Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, and Force India’s Adrian Sutil also failed to make the last qualifying session.
Pastor Maldonado, last year’s Spanish GP winner, and Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas failed to get through the first qualifying.
Info: AP, Image: Mercedes GP