RED BULL’S Mark Webber will start the Spanish Grand Prix tomorrow from the same position he started the same race last season, pole. The Australian (who also won the race last year) set a Q3 time of 1:20.981, negotiating the 16 turn Circuit de Catalunya at an average speed of 128.563-mph.
Webber’s team-mate, reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, will start from second on the grid after setting a time just 0.2 of a second slower than Webber. Vettel had started the previous five races from the front of the grid.
Third on the grid is McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton who’s fastest time of 1:21.961 really does show the gulf in speed between the Red Bulls and everybody else.
Fourth to tenth on the grid in descending order are: home boy Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Jenson Button (McLaren), Vitaly Petrov (Renault), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Pastor Maldonado (Williams) and Michael Schumacher (Mercedes).
I have a feeling that Ferrari and Mercedes will struggle in the race tomorrow because they used up an extra set of tyres earlier in qualifying. Maldonado’s ninth on the grid will give Williams (who currently sit 10th and behind Lotus in the constructors’ championship) a much needed boost. Schumacher, who has won the Spanish Grand Prix a record six times, didn’t set a lap time in Q3.
Q2 saw an unusual car taking part in it, the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen. The Finn failed to beat: Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso), Sergio Pérez (Sauber), the other Spanish racer Jamie Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi who will line up from 11th-14th respectively. But Kovalainen did secure 15th on the grid and in doing so will start in front of Paul di Resta (16th) and Adrian Sutil (17th) (both Force India).
The second Lotus of Jarno Trulli was the fastest of the eliminated cars in Q1 and will start from 18th one the grid. Rubens Barrichello (Williams) had a shocking qualifying and will start from 19th on the grid. You’d think it was Maldonado who had raced over 300 Grand Prix and Barrichello was in just his fifth when you compare their results today.
Timo Glock (Virgin) will start from 20th on the grid, the HRTs of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan will fill grid places 21 and 22, while Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Virgin) will start 23rd. The Belgian Virgin rookie’s time of 1:28.556 was just inside the 107% Rule time of 1:28.767.
Renault’s Nick Heidfeld will start from either 24th (last on the grid) or from the pit-lane after not setting a time in Q1. This is because in Free Practice 3 earlier in the morning his car caught fire and the Renault team were unable to fix it in time. But as with Kobayashi in Turkey, he will be able to start because he set a fast time on Friday.
I personally believe that Mark Webber will win tomorrow and make it back-to-back Spanish wins. The pole sitter has won the last 10 Spanish Grand Prixs and I can’t see this trend changing this year. Also, out of the 20 Grand Prix held at the Barcelona circuit, the winning team on 17 occasions has gone on to win the constructors’ title.