In qualifying, Rosberg and Hamilton notched up the third front-row lockout for Mercedes this season. Rosberg edged his team mate for the pole for the first time this year, thanks to a well-balanced car with reliable setup. The lead Mercedes controlled the pace from the start, while Hamilton struggled with oversteer and poor traction in the middle and final sessions.
Behind the Mercedes were Vettel who bumped Williams’ Valtteri Bottas for third fastest. The third row of the starting grid featured an all-Toro Rosso line-up of rookie Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen. For Sainz, it was his best qualifier yet. Meantime, Verstappen who secured sixth quickest was able to demote Raikkonen to seventh; the Finn would start alongside RBR’s Daniil Kvyat. Fifth row was taken up by the second Williams of Felipe Massa and the second RBR of Daniel Ricciardo.
All weekend long, things went rather smooth for Rosberg who had an almost perfect start to the race. The German was able control the pace from the get-go and pretty much held his own until the chequered flag.” I’m so happy about this win. It’s still early days in the season so it’s good to close the points gap to Lewis (Hamilton). I will continue to push hard – starting with a home race for me in Monaco!” Rosberg beamed.
Hamilton had a more challenging start to the race as he lost second spot to Vettel in the early going. The Briton then had a tough stint trying to keep up with Vettel, until the first stop. The team had made the decision to stop his car three times in the race. By the second stop, the quick Mercedes pitwork managed to push Hamilton out in front of Vettel for the runner-up spot. The order after the middle stint was Rosberg, Hamilton and Vettel in the lead group. Fifteen laps before the flag, Rosberg had a safe 22-second lead from his team mate. In the final few laps, Hamilton settled into second place to secure further points to his championship cause.
Ferrari came away with third and fifth places, courtesy of Vettel and Raikkonen. Vettel managed to defend his position from Bottas in the final stint. The two Finns Raikkonen and Bottas had several close encounters throughout the race. Raikkonen, starting from seventh spot, produced a brilliant opening lap to make up two places. He then continued to make up ground, closing right up to Bottas, but in the final laps, he had no real chance of getting past his fellow countryman and settled for fifth overall. The second Williams of Massa drove a rather lonely race to finish sixth, ahead of the Red Bull of Ricciardo. Everyone else behind Massa finished a lap down relative to Rosberg’s total race completion time.
With the season turning into a likely Mercedes-Ferrari showdown, Hamilton continues to lead the drivers’ standings with a 20-points advantage to Rosberg. Mercedes F1 team are 70 points up on Ferrari in the constructors’ rankings.
Four Renault-powered cars took the finish, with three in the points. Ricciardo crossed the line in seventh, with Kvyat tenth. Sainz was ninth for Toro Rosso and Verstappen just shy of the points in 11th.
Ricciardo made two stops in the race to finish three places up on his qualifying position. The Australian raced with the Toro Rosso and Lotus cars for much of the race. Kvyat lost positions at the start and got stuck in traffic, but recovered into the top ten to claim a point.
Sainz qualified in fifth position, the highest grid slot of his F1 career so far. The Spaniard finished in ninth on track after overtaking Kvyat on the final lap of the race. Verstappen likewise enjoyed a strong qualifying, starting sixth on the grid, but just missed out on points with eleventh position.
The Formula 1 circus moves to the Principality for the Monaco Grand Prix, from 22 – 24 May.
2015 Formula One World Championships, Spanish Grand Prix, results
1 NICO ROSBERG MERCEDES 1:41:12.555
2 LEWIS HAMILTON MERCEDES +17.551
3 SEBASTIAN VETTEL FERRARI +45.342
4 VALTTERI BOTTAS WILLIAMS +59.217
5 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN FERRARI +60.002
6 FELIPE MASSA WILLIAMS +81.314
7 DANIEL RICCIARDO RBR +1 lap
8 ROMAIN GROSJEAN LOTUS +1 lap
9 CARLOS SAINZ TORO ROSSO +1 lap
10 DANIIL KVYAT RBR +1 lap
11 MAX VERSTAPPEN TORO ROSSO +1 lap
12 FELIPE NASR SAUBER 1 lap
13 SERGIO PEREZ FORCE INDIA 1 lap
14 MARCUS ERICSSON SAUBER 1 lap
15 NICO HULKENBERG FORCE INDIA 1 lap
1 NICO ROSBERG MERCEDES 1:24.681
2 LEWIS HAMILTON MERCEDES 1:24.948
3 SEBASTIAN VETTEL FERRARI 1:25.458
4 VALTTERI BOTTAS WILLIAMS 1:25.694
5 CARLOS SAINZ TORO ROSSO 1:26.136
6 MAX VERSTAPPEN TORO ROSSO 1:26.249
7 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN FERRARI 1:26.414
8 DANIIL KVYAT RBR 1:26.629
9 FELIPE MASSA WILLIAMS 1:26.757
10 DANIEL RICCIARDO RBR 1:26.770
1 LEWIS HAMILTON 111
2 NICO ROSBERG 91
3 SEBASTIAN VETTEL 80
4 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN 52
5 VALTTERI BOTTAS 42
6 FELIPE MASSA 39
7 DANIEL RICCIARDO 25
8 ROMAIN GROSJEAN 16
9 FELIPE NASR 14
10 CARLOS SAINZ 8
11 MAX VERSTAPPEN 6
12 NICO HULKENBERG 6
13 SERGIO PEREZ 5
14 MARCUS ERICSSON 5
15 DANIIL KVYAT 5
1 MERCEDES 202
2 FERRARI 132
3 WILLIAMS 81
4 RBR 30
5 SAUBER 19
6 LOTUS 16
7 TORO ROSSO 14
8 FORCE INDIA 11