BARCELONA, Spain – official release — Mercedes photo — Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg waged a tremendous battle for pole position at Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday, with the honors finally going to Hamilton for the fourth time this year after both Mercedes drivers had turns at the top of the Formula One charts.
In their wake Daniel Ricciardo took a valiant third place for Red Bull, a second behind Hamilton, as Sebastian Vettel’s woes continued when his RB10 rolled to a halt with suspected transmission problems as he left the pits at the start of Q3.
Vettel’s stoppage created drama right at the start of Q3, as the Red Bull rolled to a halt at turn three with the four-time world champion reporting a lack of drive. Hamilton, close behind, narrowly avoided Vettel’s slowing car, and the subsequent red flag – which flew for four minutes while the stricken RB10 was cleared away – meant that both Mercedes drivers had to abort their first flying lap runs.
Hamilton had been unhappy with the setup of his car in Q1 and Q2, but was back on form to go fastest in 1:26.288 on his first run, taking the initiative away from Rosberg, who had managed 1:26.561. Alonso was initially third with a 1:27.563 until Ricciardo stole the place with a 1:26.602s.
On his second run Rosberg snatched pole away from Hamilton with a 1:25.400, but seconds later Hamilton stopped the clocks at 1:25.232 to settle the issue. The Briton – who entered the weekend without a pole or win to his name in Barcelona – got everything he could out of his car and himself to set himself up for a possible fourth consecutive triumph.
Behind the silver cars Ricciardo couldn’t get close, but his 1:26.28 kept him firmly third. Valtteri Bottas had had a difficult weekend up until Q3, but right at the end it all came good for the Williams driver as he vaulted up to a surprise fourth with a 1:26.632. Romain Grosjean impressed for Lotus by qualifying fifth, followed by the Ferrari entries of Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso, the McLaren of Jenson Button, Massa and Vettel.