Nico Rosberg took his first pole position of 2015 in the sunshine at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain ahead of Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
The German dominated the session, and ultimately his 1m24.681s early in the third part of qualifying was enough for pole after Hamilton was unable to improve on his 1m24.948s on his second run.
Sebastian Vettel was once again the best of the rest in third, but such was the pace advantage of the Mercedes duo, the Scuderia Ferrari driver was 0.777s adrift, while Valtteri Bottas will join him on the second row, although the Williams Martini Racing driver was more than a second off the pole time.
By far, the most impressive qualifying performance was by the two Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers, with Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen qualifying on the third row of the grid, 1.455s and 1.568s behind Rosberg.
Kimi Raikkonen had to sacrifice a new set of Medium Pirelli tyres to get safety through to the final part of qualifying, and paid the price in Q3 by only qualifying seventh, and he will be joined on the fourth row of the grid by Daniil Kvyat in the leading Infiniti Red Bull Racing entry.
Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo were the final drivers to make it through to Q3, and will both be disappointed to end up at the back of the top ten on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Romain Grosjean saw his 100% record of making it through to Q3 end in Spain, but will line-up eleventh alongside his Lotus F1 Team team-mate Pastor Maldonado, while Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will line-up thirteenth and fourteenth, with both McLaren-Honda’s making it through to Q2 for the first time in 2015.
Felipe Nasr will start fifteenth in the leading Sauber and the last driver to make it through to Q2, and will be joined on the eighth row of the grid by his team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who missed out on Q2 himself by just 0.171s.
Continuing the two-by-two sequence in the back half of the field are the two Sahara Force India drivers, with both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez struggling with a lack of downforce around the Circuit de Catalunya, and only able to outqualify the two Manor F1 Team drivers, with Will Stevens once again well clear of Roberto Merhi, the gap over eight-tenths of a second.
Spanish Grand Prix Free Qualifying Times
|5||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m26.136s|
|6||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m26.249s|
|8||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Renault||1m26.629s|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||1m26.770s|
|-||-||Eliminated in Q2||-||-||-|
|-||-||Eliminated in Q1||-||-||-|
|17||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||1m28.365s|
|18||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||1m28.442s|