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Rosberg leads Mercedes romp in Spanish GP qualifying
Barcelona, Spain (Sports Network) - Nico Rosberg won the pole for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, while his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, qualified second to give Mercedes the front row.
Rosberg turned a lap around the 2.892-mile, 16-turn Catalunya circuit in 1 minute, 20.718 seconds for his second consecutive pole and the third straight for Mercedes. The German won qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix three weeks ago, but gave up the lead on the opening lap and then struggled throughout the race to finish ninth.
"It all went perfectly in qualifying, and I had a really good lap at the end," Rosberg said. "I'm really happy with that. It's always a good motivation boost and everything, especially for the team having the front row. But, of course, we have to be a bit cautious, because of what we saw in Bahrain. It's nice but to be enjoyed with caution."
Rosberg's first Formula One race win and pole victory came in the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix.
Hamilton, in his first season with Mercedes, won the pole for the April 14 Chinese GP. He has finished either third or fifth in the first four grand prix this year. Hamilton's lap in qualifying for the Spanish GP was 0.254 seconds behind Rosberg.
"I'm really happy for the team," Hamilton said. "As Nico said, we've got to approach it with caution, because (Sunday's race) is going to be tough."
Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull qualified third with a lap in 1:21.054. Vettel, the three-time defending F1 world champion, enters this race with a 10-point lead over Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, who will start fourth.
"I'm quite happy to be honest, because (Friday and Saturday morning in practice) I wasn't really happy, particularly with the last sector, but I think we improved the car, and things calmed down," Vettel said. "We had a pretty smooth qualifying session. It was a little bit of a different approach than the majority of people, using option tires only. Whether that helps us or not tomorrow, we'll just have to wait and see."
Vettel has two wins this season -- Bahrain and Malaysia.
Spaniard Fernando Alonso will start fifth in front of his home crowd. His Ferrari teammate, Felipe Massa, had qualified sixth, but Massa was penalized with a three-place grid penalty after race stewards determined he had blocked Red Bull's Mark Webber during Q2.
Therefore, Romain Grosjean from Lotus will start sixth, followed by Webber, McLaren's Sergio Perez and Massa. Paul di Resta from Force India will roll off in 10th.
Jenson Button's season woes continued, as the McLaren driver failed to make it into the final round of qualifying and placed 14th. Button has qualified no better than seventh this year.
Williams' Pastor Maldonado, who is the defending race winner, was eliminated from qualifying in the first segment. Maldonado started from the pole in last year's Spanish GP but will roll of from 18th in this year's race.
Esteban Gutierrez from Sauber was also penalized with a loss of three spots on the grid for impeding. Gutierrez hindered the progress of Raikkonen during Q1. He will start 19th.
The 66-lap Spanish GP is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. ET.
05/11 12:21:12 ET
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