No complaints from Lewis Hamilton as he is beaten to pole in Barcelona by Nico Rosberg
German driver able to keep back two sets of fresh tyres for shoot-out
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 11/05/13 5:53pm
Having kept under the radar on Friday by running more fuel than their rivals, Mercedes leapt to the forefront of attention midway through Saturday's qualifying session when Hamilton laid down a blistering lap time of 1:21.001 at the end of Q2 which saw him trump the field by over half a second.
But it ultimately proved to be a pyrrhic headline act with Hamilton using up his penultimate fresh set of option tyres to record his table-topping lap while the canny Rosberg was able to keep two sets for the final shoot-out. Armed with two attempts at landing the coveted pole position, the German duly went on to register his second pole in succession after the slightest of mistakes from Hamilton on his one and only pressure-filled flying lap saw him beaten by two-tenths of a second.
"Nico had the opportunity of two sets because he did such a good time on a used set in Q2 that he got through Q2 on a used set and that gave him a bit more breathing space," confirmed team boss Ross Brawn.
Nor were there any complaints from Hamilton as he reflected on Mercedes' first front-row lockout since the team made their return to the sport as a fully-fledged outfit three years ago.
"I didn't have two option sets at the end, which would have helped, but Nico was quicker today," the 2008 World Champion accepted. "Congratulations to him, he did a fantastic job."
The result also amounts to Mercedes third successive pole position with the Silver Arrows emerging as Saturday specialists at the start of the 2013 season. However, with the W04 infamously hard on its tyres, neither Rosberg nor Hamilton will start the race as favourites for victory despite 21 of the last 22 races at the Circuit de Catalunya being won by a car which began on the front-row.
"I've not been happy with the car all weekend and for the race I think I am going to struggle," bemoaned Hamilton to Sky Sports F1. "I've got to look over things tonight and work out how I can limit the degradation tomorrow which is going to be a big problem for me.
"General pace is not bad, but the Ferrari is quick, the Lotus is quick and the Red Bull is quick so we've got to keep them behind somehow."