Bahrain Qualifying: Vettel steals pole as Red Bull bounce back

21 April, 2012

Sebastian Vettel in familiar pose after nabbing pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel in familiar pose after nabbing pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix

Apr.21 (PVM) After three relatively barren races so far this season, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull finally came good to claim pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir, edging out McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton who ended second fastest and Mark Webber third in the other Red Bull – the world champions very much back in contention.

Sebastian Vettel will start from pole in Bahrain

Sebastian Vettel will start from pole in Bahrain

Although few would have predicted such a turnaround before the session began, as form didn’t seem to be on their side -it looked as though  the momentum was very much with China winner Nico Rosberg and the McLaren duo who have been strong everywhere this year. In retrospect the signals had been there from the start of the weekend in Bahrain, with both the Red Bull drivers looking comfortable in the RB8 and also featuring at the right end of the timing screens, and particularly impressive in the morning’s FP3.

Vettel’s pole winning time was set on his last run on fresh Pirelli soft tyres, after completing a very quick run on an older pair with his first of two runs in Q3. Earlier the double world champion only narrowly progressed out of Q1 and Q2. But when the chips were down he dug deep to do the business when it really mattered.

While Rosberg failed to deliver a Shanghai style ‘miracle’ lap, Vettel kept his cool – in the scorching desert heat to claim his 31st top spot start in F1 – with an error free lap which in the end was 0.098 seconds better than Hamilton, who will start alongside the German, from the front row of the grid.

Top three in qualifying (L to R) Lewis Hamilton (second), Sebastian Vettel )pole winner) and Mark Webber (third)

Top three in qualifying (L to R) Lewis Hamilton (second), Sebastian Vettel (pole winner) and Mark Webber (third)

Inevitably Vettel popped his trademark ‘number one’ finger salute for photographers in parc ferme – it has been a while!

It was a relieved, and visibly pleased reigning world champion who spoke of his achievement afterwards, “This is always a tough race and a lot of things can happen. We are pretty aggressive. We should be better off in the race. Our race pace has proven to be consistent in the last couple of races. I’m happier with way car feels. We should be able to get the same kind of feeling and result on Sunday. I’m looking forward to the start and then I think it will be very tight. I think Nico [Rosberg] has been very strong all weekend and the Lotus guys can surprise. In terms of race pace, I think everyone will be much closer together.”

Webber was third quickest, beaten in qualifying for the first time this year by his teammate, and will share the second row with Jenson Button – shades of 2011 with McLaren and Red Bull squaring up for yet another duel.

Under performing massively on the day were China winners Mercedes with pre-qualifying favourite Nico Rosberg fifth fastest, but biggest shock of all being Michael Schumacher who failed to make it out of Q3 after what seemed like a gross strategy blunder in the first qualifying session.

Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03. Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday 21 April 2012.

Early shower for Michael Schumacher

The team put the mishap down to a rear wing fault which curtailed performance. Schumacher revealed afterwards, “The so called RFA [DRS] rear wing failed on my last try. There was no need to go out again until it was fixed and then the time ran out.”

Although the seven times world champion qualified 18th, he will start from 17th on the grid as Pastor Maldonado’s five place grid penalty promotes the Mercedes driver up the order.

Ferrari’s woes continued, as expected, with Fernando Alonso pulling out all the stops to salvage ninth place on the grid, but the Maranello team suffer the huge embarrassment of starting behind their engine customers, Daniel Ricciardo doing his shares no harm by powering the Toro Rosso to sixth spot on the grid while Sergio Perez was eighth fastest in the Sauber.

Alonso did not bother to do a lap in Q3 and saved an extra set of soft tyres for the race. His teammate Felipe Massa, who will start 14th, has been around half a second slower than Alonso all weekend.

Romain Grosjean will head up the fourth row in the Lotus, while his team mate – comeback champion Kimi Raikkonen, failed to make it into Q3 and will start from 11th on the grid.

Force India’s Paul di Resta surprised everyone by making it beyond Q2 for the first time this year, setting the seventh fastest lap in the middle part of qualifying. He opted not to set a time in Q3, thus bagging an extra set of Pirelli soft tyres for the race.

Schumacher not making it beyond Q1 – knocked out by Heikki Kovalainen who set an impressive lap in the Caterham, to bump out the Mercedes driver,  and Raikkonen stumbling in Q2, were the biggest surprises of the afternoon, although the lack of pace shown by Williams (compared to the first three races) was perplexing.

Any of the top half-dozen drivers have a shot at taking home the big trophy at the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix, as grid position is likely to play a minor role in a race which is set to be all about tyre management and strategy built around maximising this factor.

And for sure it won’t rain on race day, but winds which could evolve into sandstorms are predicted for the next few days in the Gulf and this will have a factor on the outcome of the race.

Subbed by  AJN.

Qualifying – Sakhir, 21 April 2012

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:34.308 1:33.527 1:32.422 18
2 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:34.813 1:33.209 1:32.520 13
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:34.015 1:33.311 1:32.637 17
4 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:34.792 1:33.416 1:32.711 12
5 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:34.588 1:33.219 1:32.821 10
6 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:33.988 1:33.556 1:32.912 17
7 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:34.041 1:33.246 1:33.008 13
8 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.814 1:33.660 1:33.394 17
9 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:34.760 1:33.403 No time 11
10 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:34.624 1:33.510 No time 15
11 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:34.552 1:33.789 6
12 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:34.131 1:33.806 13
13 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:34.601 1:33.807 12
14 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:34.372 1:33.912 14
15 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:34.466 1:34.017 14
16 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:34.852 1:36.132 10
17 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:34.639 8
18 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:34.865 5
19 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:35.014 8
20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:35.823 7
21 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:37.683 8
22 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:37.883 6
23 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:37.905 7
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:38.314 7
Q1 107% Time 1:40.380


  • Obviously

    Good Q session…

    All the Seb haters and doubters can hold their heads and question the gods.. Or fantasize about some conspiracies….

    ALO again, point on.. Not sure about the decision to sit out, but time will tell.

    Webber is gay… And his weak post session conference answer of why he was slower, was just, well… Lame, as usual.

    Button will still beat HAM come tomorrow.

    And as always, must note, Petrov should be left in the Bahrain outskirts with a police uniform on…

    Pace

  • Colin

    Fantastic session. Amazing come back from Red Bull but at least we have a couple McLarens there to keep them honest

  • Obviously

    Good Q session…

    All the Seb haters and doubters can hold their heads and question the gods.. Or fantasize about some conspiracies….

    ALO again, point on.. Not sure about the decision to sit out, but time will tell.

    Webber is weak. And his weak post session conference answer of why he was slower, was just, well… Lame, as usual.

    Button will still beat HAM come tomorrow.

    And as always, must note, Petrov should be left in the Bahrain outskirts with a police uniform on…

    Pace

  • Matthias O’keeffe

    What happen to Michael? Why P18 on the grid?

  • McHare

    Schui 18th because he thought he’d be ok not putting in the extra laps where all others below we’re out on soft tyres.

    Hamilton to win from Vettle and Button

    Schui and Kimi will get in the points though

  • Jody Renza

    Oh goodness,hope we are not gonna see that finger tomorrow again!!
    The race will be completely another story…expect great battles up to tenth place.

  • Butterfly

    Vettel should drop the finger gesture, shave, and learn to smile like he’s not a total maniac. That would do wonders for his image.

  • kaka007

    kimi played it safe….
    and schumi thought he was safe, the fault to his car’s rear wing can also be blamed..
    ricciardo,kovalainen – amazing
    force india – unexpected q3 runners
    vettel – great fightback
    hami,webber,button,grosjean n sauber – a gud normal quali as usual
    rosberg – expected a bit more from him
    williams – gotta be disappointed
    ferrari – both drivers did great but a woeful car
    virgin,hrt – quit f1

  • lio

    d a rn it! why is schu having all the bad luck! come on! stop having fun, be focused and win!

  • visz963

    Bitterfly should stop complaining about Vettel and accept that Alonso is nowhere.

    That would do miracles to his image.

  • Tamburello_1994

    You just knew Adrian was gonna get it right.

    Now the season starts.

  • Evel

    @Butterfly
    Agreed – I went into a rage when I saw the picture of him holding up that damn finger with that stupid grin on his ugly bum fluffed face!

  • Alonsofan

    Great job Vettel.it will be good to see the racing as long as hamilton,button,webber keep Vettel in check..lets hope Ferrari get in top 5.

  • Sennauno

    FINGERBOY FINGERS HIMSELF TO POLE POSITION awesome

    @obvious

    Alonso didnt set a time as the logic would have been along the lines of : blow a set of tyres = best maybe 8th? or start 9th and have an extra set of tyres for the race

  • m262

    what about schumacher hahaha where are schumi fans hiding? go Rosberg

    was ricciardo in t rosso or a 3rd red bull?

  • Zurf

    Finally Vettel know how to use his Finger (only when win & pole) hahaha.. :p

  • ?

    @m262. Back in Vetel’s STR days his car was the 3rd RBR. Nowdays things are different.

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