All-Mercedes front row in Barcelona
Rosberg's initial lap of 1m20.8s was good enough, but Rosberg wanted to crush his teammate Hamilton so he improved to a 1m20.718s with his last run just to be certain.
Hamilton had to settle for second, 0.254 seconds adrift.
Formula 1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus and Fernando Alonso's Ferrari.
"I’m quite happy to be honest," explained Vettel, who trailed Rosberg by three tenths of a second. "Yesterday and this morning I wasn’t really happy with the car, particularly in the third sector. But we managed to improve and have a smooth qualifying session."
The 25-year-old added: "We took a different approach to the majority, using Options only. We will have to wait and see if that helps tomorrow; it will be an interesting race and all about the tires. We saw in the winter [testing] that we didn’t get very far.
"The improved conditions are now helping a little but it’s a tough challenge as the tires don’t last as long as we all would like. We will see what we can do tomorrow."
In the sister Red Bull, Mark Webber could only set the eighth quickest time.
Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa was sixth.
Sebastian Vettel (3rd, 1:21.054): "I was pretty happy with the last sector, as historically it's been a bit weak for me. Now finally, after the last couple of years, I understand the last few corners a little better. I'm quite happy as yesterday and this morning I wasn't too comfortable, particularly in the last sector, but we improved the car. We had a pretty smooth qualifying session, we took a slightly different approach to some others using option tires only - whether that helps us tomorrow we'll have to wait and see, but it will be an interesting race and a lot will be about tire degradation. It's good to start a little bit higher up, so let's see what we can do tomorrow."
Mark Webber (8th, 1:21.570): "Qualifying went well today apart from Q3. I was disappointed with the lap in Q3 and lost a lot of time in the last sector; I'm normally quite strong there, but I was in trouble with the rears. It's a sensitive game these days and you need to get everything lined up. So, in the end I'm disappointed with the last lap, but everything else I was happy with. It will be an interesting race tomorrow."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A very interesting qualifying. Sebastian put in a phenomenal lap at the end of Q3 to line up third on the grid, which was beyond what we expected after Q1 and Q2. With the two Mercedes ahead of us and Kimi and Fernando behind it makes a fascinating grid for tomorrow's race. For Mark, having looked competitive in Q1 and Q2, unfortunately his lap in Q3 was just that little bit off and, on such a close grid, the differences are marginal. Hopefully both drivers can have very strong races from their grid positions tomorrow."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "Although we know Barcelona well from winter testing, there are several challenges to setting the engine up here and a number of things we need to stay on top of. There are a variety of corner speeds and some heavy braking zones, and the third sector is a big challenge drivability wise. We've worked to make the engine as smooth and drivable as possible to counter these issues and generally everything is working well. Based on tire wear and grid position we seem to be in good shape for tomorrow's race, which is again likely to be very exciting."
Fernando Alonso (5th, 1:21.218): "It's a well known fact that Saturday afternoon is our weak point and fifth place is more or less what we were expecting. We were well aware that Red Bull and Mercedes would both be very strong, but while it's true we have to start taking back points on Vettel, we are not too scared of Mercedes, who usually have higher tire degradation. The team and I are optimistic for tomorrow as our race pace is good and usually we manage to go better on Sunday. We start from the clean side and hope that will allow us to get off the line well, because what we need here is to make up some places at the start and then put in a few clean laps in the early stages or at half distance. We will also have to defend against Raikkonen: so far he has gone very well in the races and the Lotus doesn't seem to suffer too much on the tire front. As usual this season it will be very important to choose the right strategy, because there is only one lap difference in terms of degradation between the two tire compounds."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:21.219): "I can't say I'm pleased with this result, because I was expecting more after the times I did this morning. Unfortunately, in the third sector I had slight understeer which was costing me time, but all the same, I feel very confident because our car seems competitive. Now we must concentrate on tomorrow's race, because it will be a long one and anything can happen. As for the Stewards' decision relating to what happened with Webber in Q2, it was not my intention to get in his way and in all honesty, I can't recall having affected his qualifying. When I saw him in the mirrors, I thought I'd get through the corner before letting him by, which was the only course of action at such a narrow point. On top of that, he was on worn tires at the time and I don't think he was doing a quick lap. I'm not surprised at the pace of the Mercedes, as they were already strong here in winter testing and their car is always very competitive in qualifying. This result shows once again that, on Saturdays, our rivals prefer to take a more conservative approach in the morning before revealing their true potential in the afternoon."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "First of all, I want to wish the best of luck to Pat Fry, our Technical Director who will be undergoing an appendectomy this afternoon and we wish him all the best for a rapid recovery. As for qualifying, we knew we couldn't be in the hunt for the very front: we definitely cannot be satisfied with the result, but the third row is still a good starting point on which to build in tomorrow's race. It was not a surprise to see the two Mercedes being so quick, as it was also the case in winter testing at this track. Looking ahead to Sunday, we are reasonably sure we can count on the potential we have seen so far and as usual, the start will be very important to try and make up a few places. Tire degradation will still be a key factor and so we must stay focused and make the most of any opportunity."
Sergio Perez (9th, 1:22.069): "We've had a difficult couple of days - I had problems throughout practice - so to get through to Q3 was a great result, and something we really weren't expecting. I'm very pleased because I got absolutely everything out of the car. So we'll go into the race tomorrow looking to maximize our potential. If we can manage that, I think we should be satisfied. The whole Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team is determined to keep on fighting. I've seen how hard the guys in the garage, and everybody back at MTC, are working to get us back to the front - so today's result just makes me even more hungry to justify all their efforts."
Jenson Button (14th, 1:22.355): "Congratulations to Checo - he did a great job, particularly in Q2. He did everything right this afternoon and showed that some of our recent upgrades are definitely working. It's not yet enough, but it's rewarding to see that we're making some progress. For me, the car felt okay in Q1, but, in Q2, I couldn't find the grip for my final run. It felt as though the tire pressures may have been too high, but to be honest we're not yet quite sure exactly what happened. So, tomorrow, from 14th on the grid, whatever we do will be difficult. It'll be a tricky afternoon, but we'll definitely do our best to make the best of it."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Checo did a fantastic job in qualifying today - especially in Q2 during which he drove a sensational lap to be seventh-quickest. In Q3 we considered taking the tactical option, in other words not running him at all in order to conserve an extra set of tires. But, in the end, on the basis that he was driving so well, we decided to go for it in the hope that he might repeat his Q2 form relative to his principal opposition. As things panned out, he lost a little time in sector three on his best Q3 lap and ended up in P9. But, anyway, I want to say 'Well done Checo', because he was extremely impressive here this afternoon. Jenson had a difficult qualifying - and, although we haven't yet had a chance to examine his data thoroughly, it would appear that perhaps his tire pressures may have been set a little too high. But, whatever the problem turns out to have been, I'm certain that, had he felt comfortable in his car, he'd have been able to go through to Q3 as Checo did. Having said that, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' ambitions extend to a great deal more than merely going through to Q3, and it's clear that our MP4-28 still requires a lot of development before it becomes as competitive as we need it to be. But we're gradually understanding more about its shortcomings, and I'm sure we'll get there in the end. In the meantime, both Checo and Jenson will give 100 per cent tomorrow in their efforts to score as many world championship points as possible for themselves, for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, and last but not least for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' many fans all over the world."
Kimi Raikkonen (4th, 1:21.177): "That was more or less all we could do today. I didn't make any mistakes on my fastest lap so that was pretty much all there was to come from the car. I wouldn't say it was a perfect lap, but I don't think we would have been much higher up the order if it had been. The Mercedes, as we've seen before, seems to be pretty fast in qualifying but hopefully in the race we can turn it around. Our race pace has been pretty good all year so let's try and get on the podium. I'll have to make a good start, then let's see what happens."
Romain Grosjean (7th, 1:21.308): "We did a good job today throughout qualifying but on my last lap I made a mistake into turn one, so I decided to back off and save the tires. Otherwise, I think we could have done a bit better and maybe sit one or two rows further towards the front. I was happy with the car and all the work we've done since Friday. For tomorrow, we will see what happens as the competition is very tight. As we have seen, conditions are variable this weekend and once more the tires should be key."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "We're pretty happy with today's performance. We made some changes from yesterday then had a productive morning validating them on track. It was a reasonably straight-forward qualifying session with both cars saving two sets of the medium tires for Q3 and no real dramas to speak of. Unfortunately Romain had a lock-up on his last lap, otherwise he would have been right on Kimi's pace, but to have the slower of our two cars starting from P6 certainly isn't a cause for concern. It doesn't cause us any problems. The new hard compound seems better suited to this track than the previous version, certainly with the temperatures we've experienced here. It works well for us. The allocation of the hard and medium compounds is not a life changing scenario either. P4 and P6 starting positions are pretty decent for us when you consider the race pace and tire management we've been able to show so far this season. There's certainly the potential to have a very good race tomorrow."
Nico Rosberg (1st, 1:20.718): "It's a great feeling to be on pole again. So far this weekend has been very positive and it's a pleasure to see that the team is improving and fighting through the problems together. I know everyone back at the factory and at home will have been watching this afternoon and it's a great feeling for all of us. However, we know that this is only half of the job completed and have the painful memory of what happened in Bahrain to prove that. We've worked very hard on our race pace but this track is tough for the tires, particularly with graining. So it will be a big challenge tomorrow and our goal is to make the most of the opportunity we have from starting at the front and get a strong result for the team."
Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 1:20.972): "A great job by the team and I'm so happy that we got a one-two qualifying result today. It's a real bonus for us to be so high up, and that's all down to the hard work that the team have put into this car, I can't thank them enough. Of course, I'd like to be one place higher but Nico did an awesome job and really nailed his lap. I've not been totally happy with the balance of my car all weekend, even today, so we need to look at it this evening and see what we can do for the race. Limiting the degradation is going to be my major challenge as the general pace isn't too bad. It's going to be tough to keep these positions tomorrow but we'll give it our best shot."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "A great job by the team and both of our drivers today: I believe we have the strongest driver pairing in Formula One this year and they demonstrated it today. However, we know that it's tomorrow afternoon that counts and we have worked diligently this weekend to find the right solutions to improve our performance and consistency in race conditions. I don't think we will be the strongest team in the race but we are starting from the best possible position. Now we need to get through the first stint, which will certainly be interesting on the option tire, and then see how our race develops."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "It was a nice surprise for us to see both cars at the top of the times this afternoon but we know that Sunday afternoon is a more complicated challenge for us. We have worked all weekend with the race in mind but it is clear that we are harder on the tires than some of our rivals. Tomorrow will show us what progress we have made on improving this situation and our pace in the race."
Nico Hulkenberg (15th, 1:22.389): "Qualifying went according to plan today. It is disappointing, as we are simply too slow. The updates this weekend were a step in the right direction, and the set up of the car during qualifying was good, but not good enough as the other teams might have improved even more. I am very satisfied with my lap in Q2. It was the perfect lap. We used two sets of mediums in order to try to get a better grid position, but in the end it wasn't enough, because we were missing pace. Other than that, I think we can be satisfied with what we have done, but we simply need to find more speed."
Esteban Gutierrez (16th, 1:22.793): "Qualifying today was tricky. Yesterday and in FP3 this morning I felt quite confident and the laps seemed to be consistent. Overall I think the updates are a good step forward. I could have got more speed out of the last set of tires, but it's a delicate position when you are driving on the limit and I tried to get the best out of what we have. I'm not satisfied, as I want to be further in front. We simply need to keep pushing to get more speed."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "We cannot be satisfied with P15 and P16. Especially on a track like this one, it will not be easy to achieve a lot from where we start. Both drivers showed great performances today. This shows we have reduced the gap in qualifying, but still have to improve more."
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: "Yet another tight qualifying session where a few tenths move you a long way up the grid. We can take positives from the fact that all the updated parts on the car are working as intended. Both drivers drove well during both sessions. Tire management will be key tomorrow in the race. So along with that and the strategy we'll now look at the best way to move ourselves forward from where we are starting."
Paul di Resta (10th, 1:22.233): "I think we can feel pretty pleased with tenth because we achieved our target of reaching Q3. I did not quite get the maximum from Q3, because it was difficult to optimize the final sector on my out lap, but we are still in a good position for the race. Tire wear will play a big role tomorrow because this place is one of the hardest tracks for the tires. Hopefully that will work to our advantage and we can make some progress with a good strategy and not spend too much time in the pit lane. There will obviously be a lot of cars behind me with new tires, so the race to the first corner will be crucial."
Adrian Sutil (13th, 1:22.346): "Q1 went well and my run on the hard tires gave me some good information before I fitted the mediums. Then Q2 was a bit disappointing because my position on the track for the final run was not ideal. Vergne pulled out of the pits just as I was leaving and I had Nico [Hulkenberg] pushing from behind. Also Webber was on a flying lap and it was difficult to find a gap. I think that's the main reason why I missed out on Q3 because we had the pace to be in the top ten. I'm sure my car is going to work well tomorrow, but it's so tough to overtake here and qualifying position is very important."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "It's good to see Paul make it through to Q3 - the first time the team has done so in Barcelona - and it means we're in a good position to go and fight for points. Adrian has been matching Paul's pace in all the sessions but his Q2 lap was compromised by track position - he couldn't get a clean lap and that cost him a few rows on the grid. I expect us to be strong tomorrow and hopefully we can demonstrate the sort of race pace we've shown in the previous four races. The car is nicely balanced, we are working the tires well, and there's every reason to believe we can come away with two cars inside the points."
Valtteri Bottas (17th, 1:23.260): "Unfortunately the result from today shows where we are compared to others, but I still think we've made a step forward and we're heading in the right direction. It seems everyone else has improved as well which means we are in similar position to the first four races. Hopefully we can keep making the same steps race-by-race. We will try our best tomorrow and I still think we can climb up the grid as our race pace looks good."
Pastor Maldonado (18th, 1:23.318): "We're having a difficult time with the car at the moment, but we have been working very hard to improve things. We were missing a lot of grip which made it difficult to get a good time today. In terms of performance, we're not there but we will keep focusing on the work needed to move us up the grid."
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "After winning here last year, to go out in Q1 is really disappointing for us. On such a close grid, in which Valtteri only missed out on Q2 by half a tenth, we need to be making bigger steps forward than those around us if we want to be able to show any improvement in results. Our race pace is more competitive than what we have shown today so we still aim to fight for points in tomorrow's race, but everyone at Williams, both here and at the factory, knows that there is a great deal of work to do in order for us to move forward this season."
Daniel Ricciardo (11th, 1:22.127): "I was pleased with the way the session went overall, particularly Q2 and I think we got the most we could out of the car. While yesterday was a good day for us, this morning was nowhere near as positive, as I had problems with the balance on the car. So we had to play catch-up and this afternoon we managed to get it right. I was happy with my lap in Q2, even though you can't help feeling a little bit disappointed to miss out on Q3 by such a small margin. But we are close and we can have a good race tomorrow. We have made progress and we are once again looking as competitive as we did in China."
Jean-Eric Vergne (12th, 1:22.166): "We have made a good step forward which means we start the European part of the season with a stronger car, so that anything is possible tomorrow. There are a lot of positives to take from this afternoon, starting with the fact my car's set-up will be even better suited to race conditions than to qualifying. Twelfth is a good place to start and points should be on the agenda tomorrow. The team has done a fantastic job to bring some updates that have worked well, but we still need to do a bit more to be genuine contenders for Q3, but so far it has been a good weekend and I am feeling very confident for tomorrow."
James Key, Technical Director: "We brought a lot of new bits here, making significant changes to the car, as part of a plan established a long time ago for this weekend in Barcelona. With such a big change, we didn't know if everything would work as planned and yesterday we saw that, fundamentally, it seemed to work as we hoped. After a satisfactory Friday, this morning Daniel suffered a bit with the balance on his car. However, Jean-Eric has been comfortable with the car all weekend, doing a very good job. Our qualifying result has highs and lows, because it's our best overall team result this year and Jean-Eric did very well to be so close to his team-mate, but on the other hand, it's a shame to be out of Q3 by the blink of an eye. It is satisfying that we have made a good step and we are still learning about the package. In our favor for tomorrow is the fact that, being just outside Q3, we can choose our own tire strategy for the start and we are ahead of all the other cars in that same situation, while we have also saved a new set of Medium tires. We don't know quite what to expect from the tires in the race, as they both seem to be working well as a race tire."
Giedo van der Garde (19th, 1:24.661): "I'm obviously really pleased with how today's gone, both in FP3 and qualifying. We made a few changes to the car overnight to try and find a balance with the new parts and it's worked out really well. I'm not running the same package as my teammate here - I have most of the new package except the front wing so we went a slightly different way than Charles on setup and even though I didn't get a really quick lap in during FP3 I could feel we were going in the right direction. In qualifying it came good and on the second run I had a clean outlap, got the tires working well, and then a really good run to set my best quali time of the season so far. Days like today show how my learning curve keeps improving. I'm working better with the engineers in every session on track and they are finding out more about how to help me get the most out of the car. This is the sort of performance I'd targeted for when we had new parts on the car so I'm really pleased for me, the whole team and everyone who's backed me that we can deliver like we did today. There's more to come, in the race tomorrow and with more new parts for the rest of the year and this is a great way to kick off the European season."
Charles Pic (22nd, 1:25.070): "It's been a bit of a tough weekend so far. We've put a few new parts on the car and have tried several setup options to get the most out of them and find a balance I can use, but it hasn't worked yet. FP3 was ok - I didn't have a completely clean lap so we knew there was a bit more time to come after that session, but in qualifying the car just didn't feel like it was working as well as it had in the morning session. I'm not too sure why but we'll go through all the data and find out if there's anything we can do for tomorrow. On the positive side, we know we have good long run pace and I think we can have a decent race tomorrow. The weather's supposed to be a bit warmer and that'll suit our car better than the cooler conditions we've had so far this weekend. Our pitstops have been good all year and our tire degradation here has not been too bad on both compounds, so I think we should be ok for the race."
Jules Bianchi (20th, 1:24.713): "We had a good Free Practice 3 session this morning and the changes we had made seemed to move us on quite a bit from yesterday. We found more grip but the car is still not well-balanced and this is the most I could get from it today. The balance was quite variable in the first and last sector on different laps and I'm still not happy in the high-speed corners. We need to go through the data and understand what I can do in the race tomorrow to manage these situations. We need a good start to get ahead of Van der Garde but I think we will see some improvement tomorrow in terms of our race pace."
Max Chilton (21st, 1:24.996): "We're not there yet with the balance of the car but I am pleased with the progress we have made since yesterday. My first lap in particular was strong and I'm definitely feeling the benefit of not having lost track time this weekend. I feel like I've been able to demonstrate more of my progress. I'm really looking forward to the race now."
John Booth, Team Principal: "We were pleased that the analysis we did overnight on our upgrade package showed that we continue to enjoy good correlation with our development tools. The upgrades we have for this race have certainly brought more performance to the car and last night the feeling was that if we'd had more time to work on the developments during FP1 and FP2 there would be more to come. We haven't really found a great balance on the car yet, however we did have a very positive FP3 session where we made good improvements to the car. Jules was unable to get a good lap together in qualifying due to a difficult balance and Max had to be a bit more aggressive on his out lap due to traffic to find clean air. So neither driver quite got the lap they wanted today but it's good to have them so close to each other and I think we can look forward to a good race tomorrow."
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