Rosberg claims pole position

Nico Rosberg, pictured, edged out Lewis Hamilton to claim pole

Nico Rosberg, pictured, edged out Lewis Hamilton to claim pole

First published in National Sport News © by

Nico Rosberg secured back-to-back pole positions for the first time in his Formula One career as Mercedes locked out the front row ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Mercedes have become this season's one-lap specialists as they have now taken pole at the last three races, although race pace has then left something to be desired.

On this occasion at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, Rosberg beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton by a quarter of a second, with the duo the only two drivers to dip below one minute and 21 seconds for the lap.

The statistics do bode well, though, as 17 of the 22 drivers on pole for this race at this track have gone on to take the chequered flag. And only once in those 22 races has a driver not won from the front row of the grid, that being Michael Schumcher from third in 1996.

Behind the Mercedes pair will be triple world champion Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull, followed by Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus, with home hero Fernando Alonso fifth for Ferrari.

Team-mate Felipe Massa qualified in sixth, but drops three places to ninth after the stewards determined he had "unnecessarily impeded" Mark Webber in Q2. That decision elevated Lotus' Romain Grosjean, Webber in his Red Bull and Sergio Perez for McLaren up to sixth, seventh and eighth respectively, with Paul Di Resta 10th for Force India.

Given McLaren's problems so far this season, and with team principal Martin Whitmarsh conceding before qualifying both cars would struggle to make Q3, Perez performed wonders to make the top 10. However, team-mate Jenson Button starts a miserable 14th, with half a second splitting the pair in Q2.

"It all went perfectly well in qualifying, and I'm really happy with that," said Rosberg. "But we have to be cautious after what happened in Bahrain (with Rosberg ninth after starting fron pole).

"Everyone has been working really hard to understand the problems and to understand how to get the most out of the tyres as they are hugely complex.

"We were behind in Bahrain, but hopefully we have caught up now. I'm a little more confident for tomorrow. But the race is going to be a whole different thing given the challenge of the tyres."

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