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F1 Bahrain: Sebastian Vettel Takes Pole #31

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Just as everybody was expecting that Nico Rosberg would easily grab the pole in Bahrain, Sebastian Vettel demonstrated some of his record braking qualification magic from last year. Seb’s teammate Mark Webber topped up the good weekend for Red Bull with a third place on the grid for tomorrow.

Nico Rosberg managed to get only P5 after a small mistake in his sole fast lap in Q3. After two very good practice sessions, the problems for Mercedes started in Q1, when a mistake and a DRS problem prevented Michael Schumacher from making more than one fast lap and doomed him to an early exit of the qualification at P18. Schumacher will start 17th tomorrow as Pastor Maldonaldo’s five place grid penalty will send the latter to P22 from P17 in the qualification. Schumacher’s loss was Heikki Kovalainen’s gain as a Caterham car progressed to the second part of the qualification for the first time this year with the narrowest of margins: 0.013 ahead of the German legend.

Ferrari struggled again and both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were forced to use a set of option tires as early as Q1 (the other teams started using those in Q2). As in all the prior qualifications this year, Felipe Massa was unable to get to the final part of the qualification. Alonso did managed to progress to Q3 but by this point he had used so many sets of soft tires that the team decided to spare him an outing in Q3. This meant that tomorrow Felipe will start at P14 and Fernando at P9 (Force India’s Paul di Resta also did not set a time in Q3).

The pleasant surprise of the qualification session was Daniel Ricciardo. The young Australian gave Scuderia Toro Rosso the fantastic sixth position on the grid as teammate Jean-Eric Vergne once again was unable to progress from Q1. After the qualification Daniel Ricciardo was all smiles, almost as happy as the polesitter Vettel. Force India also did quite well – P10 and P13, considering their lack of practice yesterday. Kimi Raikkonen, on the other hand, became a victim of Lotus’s attempts to save tire sets and could not qualify for Q3. The ten fastest times in Q2 were all set with soft tires as neither of the top teams wanted to risk Sebastian Vettel’s fate from China. Raikkonen’s medium tire time was just not good enough to get him in the tightly packed top 10: Sergio Perrez’s P10 time was just 0.441 second more than Hamilton’s P1 time in Q2.

Sebastian Vettel needed two fast laps to outperform Lewis Hamilton in Q3 by just 0.098 seconds. After the end of the qualification, Sebastian is the driver with the most lap set altogether in the three session (including warm-up laps) – 18. This poses the question whether Vettel will be able to handle tire degradation properly tomorrow. All in all after the practices and the qualification, it is evident that Red Bull Racing is making a progress. It just remains to be seen if Adrian Newey latest work will be enough to give Vettel and Webber a shot at victory tomorrow.

 

 

Qualification Times

 

 

Pos

Driver

Team

Q1

Q2

Q3

Laps

1

Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull Racing-Renault

1:34.308

1:33.527

1:32.422

18

2

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren-Mercedes

1:34.813

1:33.209

1:32.520

13

3

Mark Webber

Red Bull Racing-Renault

1:34.015

1:33.311

1:32.637

17

4

Jenson Button

McLaren-Mercedes

1:34.792

1:33.416

1:32.711

12

5

Nico Rosberg

Mercedes

1:34.588

1:33.219

1:32.821

10

6

Daniel Ricciardo

STR-Ferrari

1:33.988

1:33.556

1:32.912

17

7

Romain Grosjean

Lotus-Renault

1:34.041

1:33.246

1:33.008

13

8

Sergio Perez

Sauber-Ferrari

1:33.814

1:33.660

1:33.394

17

9

Fernando Alonso

Ferrari

1:34.760

1:33.403

No time

11

10

Paul di Resta

Force India-Mercedes

1:34.624

1:33.510

No time

15

11

Kimi Räikkönen

Lotus-Renault

1:34.552

1:33.789

 

6

12

Kamui Kobayashi

Sauber-Ferrari

1:34.131

1:33.806

 

13

13

Nico Hulkenberg

Force India-Mercedes

1:34.601

1:33.807

 

12

14

Felipe Massa

Ferrari

1:34.372

1:33.912

 

14

15

Bruno Senna

Williams-Renault

1:34.466

1:34.017

 

14

16

Heikki Kovalainen

Caterham-Renault

1:34.852

1:36.132

 

10

17

Pastor Maldonado

Williams-Renault

1:34.639

No time

 

8

18

Michael Schumacher

Mercedes

1:34.865

   

5

19

Jean-Eric Vergne

STR-Ferrari

1:35.014

   

8

20

Vitaly Petrov

Caterham-Renault

1:35.823

   

7

21

Charles Pic

Marussia-Cosworth

1:37.683

   

8

22

Pedro de la Rosa

HRT-Cosworth

1:37.883

   

6

23

Timo Glock

Marussia-Cosworth

1:37.905

   

7

24

Narain Karthikeyan

HRT-Cosworth

1:38.314

   

7

 

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A lover of Formula 1, football, and tennis and a beginner tennis player with a single-handed backhand. Favorite Tweet of the Week: I miss F1 and will just argue with you in order to talk about it. (Maddox Bromley)