So can Mercedes finally turn a pole into a win in Barcelona?
It's a Mercedes lockout on the front row. Can they finally capitalise on a good start?
Do we finally get to see a Mercedes turn a pole a position in to a win tomorrow? Nico Rosberg starts from pole position for the second race on the trot and, just to be sure, team-mate Lewis Hamilton starts alongside. And remember, Spain is a race that is won from the front. More to the point, Mercedes has looked confident all weekend, confident enough not have chased outright speed in practice, and concentrated instead on finding a reliable race pace that won’t destroy the tyres.
Can the Silver Arrows do it? Will it Nico or will it be Lewis? And if it’s not Lewis, how is he going to feel about that? And what about those team orders we’ve already heard on the pits-to-car this season? This could be a good Sunday afternoon.
If it’s not a Mercedes, it looks like it will be Red Bull and Vettel as — once again — the partnership delivered on a Saturday, having only been there or thereabouts yesterday. Vettel starts third. The Lotus and the Ferrari (Kimi next to Seb on the outside of row two, ‘Nando behind next to Massa on row three), looked to be the class chassis yesterday, but it was not to be. Alonso especially will be disappointed with fifth in front of the home crowd.
The last four spots in the top ten went to Grosjean, Webber, Perez (yes, Sergio Perez, who’s really finding his form) and Paul Di Resta. It was a great last two minutes of Q3, wasn’t it? Only five drivers had two runs so all ten cars were on the track when the flag fell for the end of the hour.
Quick all weekend Toro Rosso will draw a lot of faith from topping the list of Q2 exit-ers, and keeping Sutil from joining team-mate Di Resta in Q3. McLaren meanwhile managed once again to lose one car in the midfield round. Only this time, as you will have gathered, it was Jenson Button’s. Oh dear.
You have to wonder whether McLaren can fix this with the structure it has; money, facilities and experience are hardly the problem, after all. Button has been quick this year to give the team the Big Up on the radio, but is he really the champ the team can rally around, rebuild and go forward, as Ferrari have with Alonso, Red Bull with Vettel and now, quite possibly, Mercedes are doing Hamilton? Button has looked down all weekend and today’s result won’t help as, after Bahrain, he’s fighting to prove himself team leader. Perez might now be showing his speed, but McLaren need someone with experience, with results surely?
Ferrari, Red Bull and Merc’s champs are not in the market for a new car 2014. Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen might be, but he’ll need McLaren to prove to him it can build a quicker car than Lotus can and right now that looks unlikely. This could be the start of a long quiet period for the archivists who so lovingly log every new trophy to arrive at the MTC.
Meanwhile one year after the team had won the race, both Williams cars joined the Caterhams and Marussias in the Q1 drop for the first time this year. The much-hyped Bottas ended up ahead of a pumped-up Maldonado who had, just as the session started, been passed a picture of him celebrating last year, as if Maldonado has an adrenalin problem. It’s going to take more than that, just as it will at McLaren for Williams to sort this one. Astonishing to think that McLaren and Williams delivered 15 out of the 20 world champions between 1979 and 1999…