Rosberg heads all-Mercedes front row
11 May 2013 – Nico Rosberg claimed Mercedes' third successive pole position at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday, with the Silver Arrows again demonstrating dominant one-lap pace. The German, who set two times quick enough for the top spot, led team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.254 seconds, with Sebastian Vettel in third.
Amid increasing air and track temperatures, it was Hamilton who entered the final shootout on form, having comfortably set the pace in the second qualifying phase. However, he could not match Rosberg's best Q3 effort of 1:20.718 and had to settle for second, just ahead of reigning World Champion Vettel and Lotus rival Räikkönen.
After featuring near the front all weekend, Ferrari will undoubtedly be feeling slightly disappointed with its qualifying performance. Fernando Alonso slipped back to fifth during the last set of runs, with Felipe Massa sixth after topping the timesheets in third practice. Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber were next up, while leading McLaren runner Sergio Pérez and Force India's Paul di Resta rounded out the top ten.
Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Éric Vergne narrowly missed out on Q3 spots. The pair will share the sixth row ahead of Adrian Sutil and McLaren’s Jenson Button, whose so far dismal weekend is showing no signs of improving. Sauber's Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez were the last to fall at the second hurdle, although the latter is due to be investigated for blocking Räikkönen at the end of Q1.
The back of the grid, providing penalties are not dished out by the stewards for blocking, will be made up of the the three teams yet to score a point this season: Williams, Caterham and Marussia. Rookie Valtteri Bottas again got the better of team-mate Pastor Maldonado, but the Grove-based endured its first double exit from the opening phase of qualifying for the first time since the 2009 Italian Grand Prix.
Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde this time led the battle of the newer teams, edging out Jules Bianchi by 52 thousandths of a second. Max Chilton trailed his Marussia team-mate by just under three tenths, while Charles Pic completed the runners.
Sunday afternoon's 66-lap race at the Circuit de Catalunya begins at 2pm local time (GMT +2) and can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net live report feature