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Live Commentary: Spanish Grand Prix qualifying - as it happened

Read how Nico Rosberg bagged pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Live Commentary: Spanish GP qualifying - as it happened
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Formula 1 is back after a three-week break and there was no clear favourite going into this afternoon's qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

As always, Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel were expected to dominate but it was the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton who stole the show.

Read how it all unfolded in our lap-by-lap updates below.


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Good afternoon racing fans! Hope you haven't missed the furiousness of F1 too much after the three-week break.

It's the fifth race of the 2013 season so before we inspect the Circuit de Catalunya, let's take a look at the standings coming into this race.

In the driver rankings, it's a familiar face in Sebastian Vettel who leads the way. The German is 10 clear of Kimi Raikkonen and 27 ahead of Lewis Hamilton in third.

One man who will be hoping for a positive weekend is home favourite Fernando Alonso. The Ferrari man is a further three behind Hamilton in the overall standings so that's 30 behind reigning three-time world champion Vettel.

In the team rankings it's also Red Bull who top the table on 109 points, 16 ahead of Lotus, with Ferrari and then Mercedes in third and fourth.

One team that isn't having it all their own way is McLaren. The team lost their lead driver in Lewis Hamilton over the winter and this season they've only managed to score 23 points in the four races. Jenson Button has 13, Sergio Perez 10. In final practice this morning, Button was 12th and Perez 14th.

It was a surprising name who topped the timesheets this morning as Ferrari's Felipe Massa finished ahead of Raikkonen by six-thousandths of a second! Could the Brazilian be on course for pole position?

WEATHER WATCH! The sun is shining at the Circuit de Catalunya, which is about half an hour north of the coastal city of Barcelona.

Grabbing that first place is considered extremely important here as 10 of the last 11 Spanish Grands Prix have been won from pole position.

We're expecting lap times at around the 80-second mark from the drivers today. That's fairly low for an F1 track because Barcelona is packed with high-speed corners.

Last year there was a huge shock as Pastor Maldonado of Williams stormed to victory but that sort of surprise is very unlikely this time around.

REMINDER! Just in case you've forgotten how F1 qualifying works or you're new to the sport, here's a quick rundown:

All 22 cars take part in a 20-minute 'Q1' session. The six slowest cars after this period are eliminated and start the race from their position between 17-22.

Next is a 15-minute 'Q2' session where the remaining 16 cars battle for a place in the final top 10 shootout. As before, the cars that finish in positions 11-16 start the race from those spots.

Finally, the 10-minute pole position shootout where the 10 quickest cars from Q2 fight it out for the final positions on the grid.

PREDICTION! We're just moments away from our first green light and the 20-minute Q1 session so I best get my prediction in. I'm backing the local hero Alonso to grab top spot.

GREEN LIGHT! Q1 is underway.

As always at this stage there's very few drivers heading out onto the track. The big boys like to leave it late and then set a solid enough time that will get them into the Q2. It doesn't take that much to go faster than the minnows of Caterham and Marussia.

There are now a few cars out on the track as last year's winner Maldonado, the Toro Rossos of Vergne and Ricciardo and Sauber's Hulkenburg take to the track.

The camera switches to Ricciardo's on-board camera the minute he crosses the finish line and straight away a fly splats onto the lens!

Vergne is the fastest man of those four with a 1:23.467.

Here come the first of the big teams as the Lotuses of Raikkonen and Grosjean zip round the track. The Finn posts 1:23.087 and Grosjean can't beat him, going a tenth of a second slower.

TEN minutes of Q1 left and still only nine out of the 22 drivers have set a time. Raikkonen fastest at the moment.

Surprisingly Di Resta can't beat the time of Vergne, whose Toro Rosso has looked quicker than usual this weekend. Perhaps the Frenchman will get into Q3.

Boom boom! Alonso goes eight-tenths quicker than Raikkonen with a 1:22.264. Teammate Massa is a couple of tenths further back in second.

Blimey, Rosberg picks up a bunch of time in the last couple of sectors and is the first man under 1:22.

The Mercedes's have the medium compounds on and they're flying! Hamilton goes 0.185s quicker than his teammate with a 1:21.728.

At the moment it's the two Saubers of Hulkenburg and Gutierrez who will be joining the Caterhams and Marussias in exiting at the first hurdle.

Just a minute left of Q1 and it's now Hulkenburg and Bottas in danger of going out.

Di Resta was the biggest name in trouble but he's just gone seventh-fastest. Button now in 14th will be slightly worried.

Q1 OVER! The two Williams of Bottas and Maldonado are the ones who exit along with the Caterhams and Marussias.

It's a nightmare for Maldonado especially as he won this race last year.

OUT! Here are the six drivers, in order, who have failed to make it into Q2: 17 Bottas 18 Maldonado 19 Van der Garde 20 Bianchi 21 Chilton 22 Pic

That might not be how the backmarkers start the race tomorrow though as Gutierrez appeared to block Raikkonen towards the end of the lap. That could result in a grid drop tomorow.

And here's the top 10 from that opening qualifying session: 1 Hamilton 2 Rosberg 3 Vettel 4 Raikkonen 5 Alonso 6 Webber 7 Massa 8 Grosjean 9 Di Resta 10 Vergne

GREEN LIGHT! Q2 is underway. Fifteen minutes more of time-setting to come.

Early on it's the two Saubers who set the first times but now the big boys are starting to roll out of the pit lane.

Raikkonen goes fastest with a 1:21.676. His nearest challenger at the moment is Rosberg, who is exactly one-tenth of a second behind.

It's Alonso who delights the fans around the Circuit de Catalunya by going three-hundredths faster than Raikkonen. Button is really struggling out there as he can only go 15th. Dear dear.

With five minutes of Q2 left, both McLarens sit outside the top 10. The two surprise names currently in the top 10 are Hulkenburg and Gutierrez of Sauber. They've done runs on brand new tyres so that's the reason for their lofty position.

The Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber who need to pick up their game on their final hot lap of Q2. Vettel is currently eighth, with Webber hanging on in 10th.

And the German answers by going fastest with a 1:21.602.

Webber can't quite match his opponent as he goes fourth.

The chequered flag falls and Hamilton is down in the drop zone. He has to set a good time now.

BOSH! Hamilton crosses the line in 1:21.001, that's a mighty six-tenths quicker than anyone else.

END OF Q2! Hamilton zooms to the front and that's brought gleeful faces to the Mercedes pit wall. Button is the biggest casualty there as he can't improve on 14th. His teammate Perez made it through though.

OUT! Here are the seven drivers, in order, who failed to make it through to the top-10 shootout: 11 Ricciardo 12 Vergne 13 Sutil 14 Button 15 Hulkenburg 16 Gutierrez

So it didn't quite work out for Toro Rosso as they finish just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th. It was an excellent lap from Perez to finish just a couple of tenths down on Vettel who was second behind the blistering Hamilton.

Another impressive performance from Di Resta as well. The Force India man squeezed into the top 10 with his teammate Sutil back three places in 13th.

Here's the top 10 from Q2 that will contest for pole position: 1 Hamilton 2 Vettel 3 Alonso 4 Raikkonen 5 Webber 6 Rosberg 7 Perez 8 Massa 9 Grosjean 10 Di Resta

GREEN LIGHT! Ten minutes for the drivers to go for pole position. Raikkonen is straight out!

Here's Telegraph journalist Oliver Brown on Twitter: "Reeling from that final lap by Hamilton in Q2. Six tenths faster than Vettel? Astonishing." Indeed.

Hmmmm. Rosberg is out on track but teammate Hamilton isn't. It seems that Rosberg is going to have two runs at setting a time but Hamilton is so confident at the moment that he might only do one.

ROSBERG is at the front with a 1:20.824. Alonso, Massa, Grosjean and Raikkone behind with just five minutes remaining. They're the only five to set a time so far.

So we're waiting to see Di Resta, Vettel, Webber, Hamilton and Perez. Di Resta and Perez might not set a time so that they have choice of tyres for the start of the race.

And now the mad rush out of the pits starts. Most cars are emerging from their garages as we prepare for the final attempts at the quickest time in the Catalonian sunlight.

Raikkonen with a much quicker first sector than Vettel. Looks like Hamilton could be the last man across the line.

Vettel goes second behind Rosberg and then Raikkonen goes behind Vettel. Rosberg still at the front.

Rosberg goes even quicker and then Hamilton into second.

Alonso a disappointing fifth, Massa sixth, Webber eighth.

NICO ROSBERG WILL START ON POLE POSITION AT THE SPANISH GRAND PRIX!

It's an all-silver front row with Hamilton in second.

FINAL TOP 10: 1 Rosberg 2 Hamilton 3 Vettel 4 Raikkonen 5 Alonso 6 Massa 7 Grosjean 8 Webber 9 Perez 10 Di Resta

Unsurprisingly it's smiles all round in the Mercedes garage. The silver arrows weren't being tipped to dominate but they were immense in the latter stages of qualifying there.

Thanks for joining Sports Mole this afternoon. Be sure to stick around on site for plenty of reaction throughout the day. We'll be back tomorrow with updates on the race from 12.30pm. See you then.

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