Sebastian Vettel has claimed his first pole position of the 2012 season with a scintillating effort to grab top spot in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix. The German led a Red Bull Racing 1-3 in qualifying, while the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished second and fourth, respectively.
It was a disappointing session for provisional qualifying favourites, Mercedes, with Nico Rosberg qualifying fifth and Schumacher a shock 17th after his car encountered a DRS issue in Q1.
Today’s action took place in front of near-empty grandstands once again, and incredibly there was something else that was even more scarce than the spectators: a camera shot of the Force India competitors.
Following the Silverstone team’s decision to not run in Friday’s second practice session, the orange and green cars were all but invisible in the TV feed distributed by Formula One Management.
Ironically, this probably gave the team even more coverage than if they had have been on TV, with many fans and journalists suggesting that this was a specific directive from F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who was none-too-pleased with the team’s stance on missing the afternoon’s practice session yesterday.
Out of the TV cameras’ spotlight, Nico Hülkenberg qualified thirteenth-fastest, while team-mate Paul di Resta impressively made the top-ten stage, although he did not elect to set a lap-time in Q3.
Another impressive qualifier was Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso, who qualified a career-best sixth-fastest, some thirteen places ahead of team-mate Jean-Éric Vergne, who was again bundled out of the first phase of qualifying for the third event in a row. The Frenchman may face further sanctions from the FIA Stewards after he appeared to ignore an instruction to visit the FIA weighbridge at the end of Q1.
The first phase of qualifying saw several of the field’s more-fancied runners opt for a run on the softer Pirelli tyres to try and guarantee themselves a spot in Q2. This certainly threw the cat among the pigeons in the qualifying order, with the likes of both McLarens and Red Bull runners narrowly escaping the Q1 chop, while Schumacher was not so lucky.
One of the success stories of qualifying was Heikki Kovalainen, who hurtled around the Sakhir circuit on his final flying lap to give Caterham its first Q2 appearance of the season.
Q2 saw Lewis Hamilton try to stake his claim for pole position by going fastest in this phase of the session, while the likes of Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa failed to make the final phase of qualifying after they were bumped down the timing screens in the closing stages of the session.
2012 Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Results:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:34.308||1:33.527||1:32.422|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes||1:34.813||1:33.209||1:32.520|
|3.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:34.015||1:33.311||1:32.637|
|4.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes||1:34.792||1:33.416||1:32.711|
|5.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1||1:34.588||1:33.219||1:32.821|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:33.988||1:33.556||1:32.912|
|7.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault||1:34.041||1:33.246||1:33.008|
|8.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari||1:33.814||1:33.660||1:33.394|
|9.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari||1:34.760||1:33.403||no time|
|10.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes||1:34.624||1:33.510||no time|
|11.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault||1:34.552||1:33.789|
|12.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari||1:34.131||1:33.806|
|13.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes||1:34.601||1:33.807|
|14.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari||1:34.372||1:33.912|
|15.||Bruno Senna||Williams Renault||1:34.466||1:34.017|
|16.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault||1:34.852||1:36.132|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado*||Williams Renault||1:34.639||no time|
|18.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1||1:34.865|
|19.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:35.014|
|20.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault||1:35.823|
|21.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth||1:37.683|
|22.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth||1:37.883|
|23.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth||1:37.905|
|24.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRTF1 Cosworth||1:38.314|
* Driver will incur a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox