And also against expectations it is Nico Rosberg who is ahead of the two. Just as with his team's efforts, even though it's his second pole on the spin him coming out on top of his intra-team conflict with the mighty Lewis Hamilton also seems unexpected. But it's further evidence that after years of confusion on the matter Nico might well be all that after all. Perhaps we should try to start to get used to it.
|Nico Rosberg takes pole - not so much of a surprise|
Credit: Morio / CC
And because it appears so close to call tomorrow's race could well be decided in the margins: the start, a smartly timed pit stop. Indeed one major discriminator could be early in the race with the time lost in clearing the Mercedes. Even with F1's madcap new rules passing around the Barcelona track remains difficult; Alonso holding off quicker cars for a fair chunk of the 2011 race demonstrated this. As does the fact that you have to go back to 1996 for the last win here starting from off the front row (as mentioned though, few expect that record to withstand tomorrow's challenge).
|Is Kimi Raikkonen best-placed for tomorrow's race?|
Credit: Morio / CC
And you may have noticed a team not mentioned so far. Even a round synonymous with bringing big technical upgrades has not brought the McLarens much closer to the front, indeed if anything they look a bit further away. And the implications of this appear lost on no one: the drivers have started to talk like their championship chances are gone (not much of a revelation you might say but it is a revelation that they're not caring to hide the fact), the team's management is talking that there won't be quick fixes and more worryingly suggestions that the team is having correlation problems with its simulation tools are beginning to swirl. And we saw the bother Ferrari had, and had for an extended period, from that.
But still it was another encouraging show for Sergio Perez, who followed on from his strong (if sometimes lairy) run in Bahrain by qualifying six places ahead of his team mate Jenson Button (he starts P8 with Jenson P14), and his Q2 time was six tenths of a second quicker.
Yet the likelihood is that they, like the Mercs, will be a side show in tomorrow's Spanish round. Instead we'll most probably have Vettel, Raikkonen and Alonso with weapons drawn, never likely to have much space between them. Worth watching, in other words.