Webber leads Red Bull front row in Spain

Red Bull Racing maintain their dominance in qualifying this season with Mark Webber leading Sebastian Vettel to yet another front row at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The aerodynamic updates to the RB6 has made it ever quicker compared to the rivals and Webber’s pole lap at one minute, 19.995 seconds around the 2.875-mile track was impressive. The Australian hopes he can turn this result into race victory on Sunday unlike in Sepang.

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton will start in third place but the 2008 world champion was 0.8 seconds adrift of Webber’s pole lap. Home crowd favourite Fernando Alonso, racing in the F-duct F60, lines up fourth for Ferrari while championship leader McLaren’s Jenson Button completed the top five.

And for the first-time ever, Michael Schumacher has outqualified his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and will start the Spanish Grand Prix in sixth. The seven-time world champion feels more comfortable in the new longer wheelbase car, which also features a unique airbox intake. These updates has certainly improved his performance behind the wheel and to qualify in sixth with a margin of two-tenths of a second over Rosberg, it seems the old Michael Schumacher form is back in Formula One.

Renault’s Robert Kubica splits the Silver Arrows pair with seventh while Felipe Massa was only ninth for the Scuderia. Kamui Kobayashi completed the top ten as Sauber put in a stronger all-round performance when compared to the four flyway races earlier this season. Team-mate Pedro de la Rosa will be starting his home race in P12.

The Force India of Adrian Sutil lines up in P11, six places ahead of team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi.

As for Rubens Barrichello, who decided against running the Williams aero updates after trying it in free practice, was the high-profile casualty in Q1. The Brazilian complained about traffic and the lack of significant performance with the new upgrades to the FW32. He will start the race down in a frustrating P18.

Behind the Brazilian, Jarno Trulli led the battle of the new Formula One teams as the Lotus upgrades enabled the outfit to comfortably defeat Virgin Racing, while Karun Chandhok was the quicker of the HRT drivers on the back row of the grid.

Can anyone stop the flying Red Bulls on Sunday? The pace of the RB6 this season has been highly impressive with a lock-out on pole position after five races. Yes, the reliability is still a major issue plus the weather element playing its part to level out the field, but if the 66-laps plays out according without any incidents (including rain), then expect to see a straightforward victory for the Milton Keynes-based team on race day.

Qualifying times from the Circuit de Catalunya:

1.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1:19.995
2.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1:20.101
3.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:20.829
4.  Alonso         Ferrari                1:20.937
5.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:20.991
6.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1:21.294
7.  Kubica         Renault                1:21.353
8.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1:21.408
9.  Massa          Ferrari                1:21.585
10. Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1:21.984
11. Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:21.985
12. de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari         1:22.026
13. Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth      1:22.131
14. Petrov         Renault                1:22.139
15. Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:22.191
16. Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:22.207
17. Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes   1:22.854
18. Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:23.125
19. Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth         1:24.674
20. Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth         1:24.748
21. Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1:25.475
22. di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth        1:25.556
23. Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth           1:26.750
24. Senna          HRT-Cosworth           1:27.122

8 thoughts to “Webber leads Red Bull front row in Spain”

  1. The top three drivers’ views on the qualifying session at Barcelona. Stories taken from Autosport.com

    Mark Webber labelled his qualifying session ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix as sensational after Red Bull blitzed its rivals.

    “This pole is for the team,” said Webber, who beat team-mate Sebastian Vettel for his second pole position of the year, the fifth in five races for Red Bull.

    “Both sides of the garage have had a few hours sleep in the last two nights. They have worked really hard and it shows the effort they are putting into the car is translating into lap time.

    “It was a sensational qualifying. Christian [Horner] said before qualifying that you probably won’t get to drive a car like that around here very often so enjoy it. I did.”

    Webber finished nearly a whole second ahead of the first non-Red Bull car, that of Lewis Hamilton.

    The Australian admitted it felt good to beat Vettel, but is aware that there are not points scored on Saturday.

    “It is a good battle between both of us quite often,” he said. “Seb has a great record, it is nice to get one the other way. It shows how well the team is working collectively as a group.

    “It is nice if you get it all together and get the result. We have a good long race tomorrow. I am happy with car in race situation. There are no points today so I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

    Sebastian Vettel believes that Mark Webber’s superiority in the third sector of the lap at Barcelona was the difference between the Red Bull team-mates in qualifying.

    The Australian edged his young team-mate in all three segments of qualifying on Saturday, and the pair effectively fought an exclusive battle for pole position in Q3.

    Despite Vettel briefly moving to the top spot on his final lap, Webber was able to find more time again to take his second pole of the season.

    “Mark did a very good job today, a very smooth run through all the qualifying sessions,” said Vettel. “He always seemed to beat me too much in the final sector, [so we] have to look at the data and see where I can improve.”

    The 22-year-old added that despite Lewis Hamilton being 0.8 seconds adrift in third, Red Bull must stay focused on converting its dominance into a result on Sunday.

    “I think we are enjoying ourselves,” he said. “Obviously Mark wants to beat me and I want to beat him, that is not a secret.

    “Even though the time looks comfortable, we have to keep our feet on the ground because tomorrow is the most important day.

    “So far we have been quick and done a good job. If we are here tomorrow and we can confirm that then I would be very pleased.”

    Lewis Hamilton admitted he was surprised by the speed of the Red Bulls after the team dominated qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

    Hamilton finished in third position, but nearly a second behind pole-setter Mark Webber as the Red Bull looked untouchable once again in Barcelona.

    “It is,” he said when asked if the gap to Red Bull was massive. “I don’t think anyone expected them to be so fast this weekend.

    “However we knew they would be quick, that is quite a decent gap. We will continue to push and focus on the areas we know we are weakest.

    “It is great to be up there, they are probably not as quick down the straights which is a bonus so we will see how quick they are tomorrow.”

    “They have a good edge on the rest of the field, but hopefully when we get to other circuits that are a little less downforce then maybe we can benefit and hopefully we will be closer.”

    He was still happy that McLaren was the “best of the rest” and reckons the upgrades introduced this weekend are a step forward.

    He added: “They are extremely quick throughout the high-speed circuits and high-speed corners. They seem to be ridiculously fast and have more downforce and efficiency than other teams and made a slight step forward from that which has put them more out of the lead.

    “It’s good to see us up there as best of the rest. We have a good foundation to work on and we have a lot of work to do. This car has a lot of potential and we have to keep working on it. There are avenues we can go down to produce more downforce. The stuff we have this weekend has been a step forward.”

  2. The Spanish Grand Prix is the first race of the European season of Formula One and traditionally the start of significant updates to the cars to improve perfomance. In Williams case, the new aerodynamic package has failed to make the FW32 any quicker and for Rubens Barrichello, he was unable to make pass Q1. Read the Autosport story below for the Brazilian’s views:

    Rubens Barrichello says the updates introduced by his Williams team in Spain have not worked after being knocked out in Q1.

    He also said traffic during his runs had not helped his cause.

    “Well, the fact is that the updates didn’t work so our cars are completely the same and I just had traffic,” Barrichello said of his qualifying performance after finishing in 18th position.

    “I didn’t have a clear run in any of my outings so that’s the reason, we’re just out.”

    The Brazilian said his team had been forced to remove the updates from his car after they didn’t prove beneficial.

    “The updates didn’t work. We had to drop it, but the fact is I couldn’t get a clear run and I was thinking that we had a shot on Q3 to be honest with you.

    “But, that’s the problem – we have six cars that go so slow and if they don’t get out of the way you catch them by three to four seconds a lap and that’s too unfortunate. I’m just out.”

    Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg enjoyed a better day, qualifying in 13th.

  3. Home crowd favourite Fernando Alonso has admitted that the speed advantage from the Red Bulls means any chance of a decent result will be challenging. Read the Autosport article below for the full story.

    Fernando Alonso says it is not realistic to expect to be able to fight with the Red Bulls in the Spanish Grand Prix tomorrow.

    The Ferrari driver qualified in fourth position, nearly a second behind pole-setter Mark Webber, who gave his team the fifth pole in as many races this year.

    And while Alonso is hopeful he will be closer in the race, he reckons Red Bull is likely to be untouchable tomorrow.

    “We have not been perfect in terms of grip and downforce-wise,” said Alonso after qualifying. “And also set-up wise we’ve been not totally confident with the car all weekend. But in Q3 more or less we found the right compromise and the lap in Q3 the car was quite good to maximise our potential.

    “Tomorrow in the race hopefully the performance will be closer to the Red Bulls. We’ve had very strong race pace so we hope tomorrow to be a little bit closer.

    “Iif you are two or three tenths behind you maybe can fight for victory, but if you are a second behind you can only expect to be not too far away. In normal conditions Red Bull is favourite for tomorrow.

    “We arrive into the race with a lot of confidence, knowing that we can have some opportunities to be on the podium. We just need to take them.”

    The Spaniard, who was involved in an incident with Nico Rosberg when leaving the pitlane, reckons he did not deserve a penalty, especially judging by how other pitlane incidents have been treated during the first races of the season.

    Rosberg called for a penalty for Alonso on the radio and race stewards are looking into the incident.

    “First of all I didn’t see Nico, unfortunately,” he said. “The angle of vision is not perfect to see anyone coming down the pitlane, so you rely on your mechanic.

    “Then if there is a penalty for this we need to reconsider some of the grands prix we’ve had so far, in terms of penalties in the pitlane. And third, in case of a penalty, since it’s a safety thing in the pitlane it’s normally a fine for the team, so hopefully there isn’t any of these cases.”

  4. After setting the pace in both the practice sessions and qualifying itself in the past four races, this weekend Nico Rosberg seems to be having difficulties in the updated Silver Arrows. Read Nico’s views on the situation as taken from Autosport.com.

    Nico Rosberg has admitted that is struggling to get the best out of Mercedes GP’s major update package for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

    The German, who has comfortably out-performed seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher so far this season, could only manage eighth on the grid as his more experienced team-mate outqualified him for the first time this year.

    While Schumacher has expressed his satisfaction with the updated Mercedes MGP W01, Rosberg is working to understand the problems he is having with the car.

    “It’s been a difficult weekend for me and we need to look into the reasons for this and understand why,” said Rosberg, who is currently second in the drivers’ championship behind Jenson Button.

    “The changes that we have made with the car are obviously good and we have made a step forward but I haven’t really been able to use the improvements so far.

    “Considering that I have found the car difficult to drive and haven’t had the best of set-ups, our performance today was acceptable but it’s not where I wanted to be fighting this weekend.”

    Team boss Ross Brawn believes that the changes made to the car for this weekend have provided a step forward in performance, despite Rosberg’s struggles.

    “I’m not happy with the overall performance, but I am confident that if we hadn’t done all of the work that we have, we would have been much further back,” said Brawn.

    “Michael has continued the progress that we saw in the first three races whilst Nico hasn’t been completely happy with the car this weekend and that reflects in his position. I am comfortable that we have made progress but other teams have also moved forward so we have further work to do.”

    Schumacher will line up two places ahead of Rosberg in sixth, and he believes that getting higher up the grid was not possible.

    “I feel a lot more comfortable driving the car that I have in my hands now,” said the 41-year-old. “But there is a maximum that you can get out of it and that is what we achieved today.”

  5. Kamui Kobayashi has hailed the development work of the Sauber factory after both of the team’s cars made it into the top 12 in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

    The Swiss team had been a disappointment in the early races after showing some impressive form in winter testing, but at Barcelona it was able to get Kamui Kobayashi into Q3, with Pedro de la Rosa narrowly missing out on joining him.

    “The team did a really good job – not only in qualifying but also over the last three weeks,” said Kobayashi. “We have changed the direction for the car’s development and as a reward we made it for the second time this season to Q3.

    “I already knew from the morning session that my pace here was good enough for Q3. The performance of the car is a lot better, we have aero updates and also an engine upgrade for reliability.”

    Sauber’s new technical director James Key added that the team was unsure of how competitive it would be with its updates, but was pleased with the results so far.

    “We weren’t sure how far we could push forward in qualifying, but I think after Q1 we realised we had a good chance of doing well,” said Key.

    “The updates worked, which was very much a team effort, and we can be very proud of the step we made.”

    A slightly disappointed de la Rosa added: “Obviously it was possible to get into Q3 – I don’t really understand what went wrong. However, the positive thing is we made a big step forward since the Chinese Grand Prix, and we are a lot more competitive.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  6. Despite the other teams running aero updates at the Spanish Grand Prix, Renault’s Robert Kubica was left encouraged by the performance of the R30. The Polish expressed his opinion to Autosport.com and you can read the report below.

    Robert Kubica was left encouraged by the pace of his Renault in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix after finishing as seventh quickest.

    And the Pole, whose team, unlike most of its rivals, has no major updates in Barcelona, believes his showing is a good omen for what can be expected from Renault in the upcoming races as it continues to develop its car.

    “Overall it was a good qualifying session for me,” said Kubica. “Seventh is a strong place to start and I think I got the maximum from the car. We don’t have a big package of updates for this race so it’s encouraging to be ahead of one Ferrari and one Mercedes, which is not what I was expecting.

    “I know that it will be a tough race tomorrow and it will be interesting to see how the soft tyres cope with the heavy fuel load in the opening laps.

    “I think our race pace will be similar to our qualifying pace so I’m hopeful of a strong race and scoring some good points tomorrow.”

    Team-mate Vitaly Petrov qualified in 14th position, but will start from 19th after a gearbox change meant he will get a grid penalty.

    The Russian rookie was thankful to his team after repairing his car in time to qualify following his practice crash.

    “It was a very close session today and I only missed out on Q3 by three tenths, which shows that we have improved again this weekend – both myself and the team,” Petrov said.

    “To begin with it wasn’t certain that I would make qualifying after my accident this morning when I ran wide onto the kerb and hit some standing water on the approach to turn four.

    “So I have to say a big thank you to my mechanics because they did an excellent job to repair the car in time. I know the race tomorrow will be difficult because it’s not easy to overtake here, but anything can happen in the race and I will try my best to move forward.”

  7. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa seemed to lack speed when compared to team-mate Fernando Alonso. The Brazilian will start the Spanish Grand Prix down in ninth position and has commented that he mystified by handling issues with the F60. Autosport.com has the details.

    Felipe Massa is concerned that he is no longer able to find the balance he needs with his Ferrari to be on the pace after he could only qualify ninth for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

    The Brazilian was unable to match his team-mate Fernando Alonso, who will start from the second row, and he admitted on Saturday evening that he was still unsure of what was causing his problems.

    “Fernando is a very good driver, but something has happened to me,” said Massa. “Something is not going like I want, so I can’t do the lap time or drive the car like I want.

    “This is something that we need to understand, and improve. It will be difficult for tomorrow because we cannot change the car, but we need to do something for the next races.

    Massa added that he had been happier with his car in practice, but could not repeat his performance in qualifying.

    “I was struggling a lot to find the right balance in the car. This morning my feeling was a bit better, and then in qualifying I was slower on the hard tyre than I was in practice,” he said.

    “We need to understand what has happened, understand which direction to follow. I went in a completely different direction [to Alonso], and then back again. We tried everything.

    “It looks like something is not working out to give the grip. This is something that we need to understand, but I’m sure we will.”

  8. Despite setting the initial pace in the first practice session on Friday with Lewis Hamilton, McLaren are still behind the Red Bulls when it comes down to qualifying. In the race however McLaren can turn around the result with victory, case in point Jenson Button’s two victories this season. The team have concedes that only big mistakes (like a bad call on tyre strategy) will prevent Red Bull in taking the chequered flag on Sunday. Read the Autosport.com story below for the full picture.

    McLaren concedes that only mistakes from rivals Red Bull Racing will allow it to challenge for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.

    With Mark Webber’s pole position time almost one second quicker than Lewis Hamilton’s best effort, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh thinks there is little hope of the team being able to make a fight of it without outside factors coming into force.

    “They [Red Bull Racing] have clearly had a quick car all year, but they haven’t maximised the points in at least three of those races,” said Whitmarsh in Barcelona.

    “We’ve got a good race team, two great race drivers and we can only do our best with the car we have here this weekend.

    “Hopefully that gives us an opportunity, but Red Bull Racing will need to make some mistakes if we are going to challenge them tomorrow.”

    Whitmarsh admitted that his team would need to increase its efforts to bring more speed to the car over the next few races if it was going to stop Red Bull Racing walking away with the title.

    “The Red Bulls are really quick here,” he said. “I think they have done a really good job, and we’ve made some progress, I think all the teams have, but we have got a long season ahead of us.

    “I think we’ve got two great drivers, they got the best out of the package that we made available to them today and we were aiming frankly as the weekend wore on for the second row. We just about achieved that, but not quite.

    “It is a long race, though, we know they’ve got some vulnerabilities, and we know we have two great racers. We have certainly won races this year from further back on the grid so it is not devastating.”

    He added: “We know we are working hard to develop the car, we have some bits that we need to get on the car as quickly as we can, but the cars, all of them, will continue to improve during the course of the year.

    “We have demonstrated that we can improve. Our car has a good pace, we have got to edge up on that and make sure that we are working harder and faster than certainly Red Bull. By comparison to the other teams we are quite respectable, but the Red Bull at the moment is the car that everyone has to beat.”

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