Sebastian Vettel has claimed his first pole position of the 2012 season

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.

The Force India cars were all but invisible to the cameras - coincidence much?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:

Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault 1:34.308 1:33.527 1:32.422
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:34.813 1:33.209 1:32.520
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault 1:34.015 1:33.311 1:32.637
4. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:34.792 1:33.416 1:32.711
5. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 1:34.588 1:33.219 1:32.821
6. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:33.988 1:33.556 1:32.912
7. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault 1:34.041 1:33.246 1:33.008
8. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari 1:33.814 1:33.660 1:33.394
9. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari 1:34.760 1:33.403 no time
10. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes 1:34.624 1:33.510 no time
11. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault 1:34.552 1:33.789  
12. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari 1:34.131 1:33.806  
13. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes 1:34.601 1:33.807  
14. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari 1:34.372 1:33.912  
15. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault 1:34.466 1:34.017  
16. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault 1:34.852 1:36.132  
17. Pastor Maldonado* VEN Williams Renault 1:34.639 no time  
18. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 1:34.865    
19. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:35.014    
20. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault 1:35.823    
21. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth 1:37.683    
22. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth 1:37.883    
23. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth 1:37.905    
24. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth 1:38.314    
  107% CUT-OFF     1:40.381    

* Driver will incur a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.