Nico Rosberg has defied paddock speculation to claim pole position for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix. The German produced an excellent lap late in the final phase of qualifying to guarantee himself a second career pole position.
Vettel was the quickest driver in the second phase of qualifying, but ultimately didn’t have the pace to claim pole position today, and will be equally frustrated to start from the dirtier side of the grid for tomorrow’s race.
Fernando Alonso, winner of last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix and the fastest driver in today’s preceding practice session, will start third overall, while Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber were fourth- and fifth-quickest in Q3.
However, both drivers will take five and three-place grid penalties, respectively, which promotes Felipe Massa to fourth on the grid. The Brazilian posted his quickest Q3 lap time on the Hard-compound Pirelli tyres, giving him a a strategic advantage in tomorrow’s race, which will be heavily influenced by tyre wear.
Massa led home the Force India pairing of Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta, while Kimi Räikkönen was a disappointing ninth-fastest in his Lotus, leaving Jenson Button to round out the top-ten. Button opted not to set a lap-time in order to give himself an open tyre choice for Sunday’s race.
Having shown pace in the earlier practice sessions after being given a new E21 chassis for the weekend, Romain Grosjean was the only surprise non-appearance in Q3. The Frenchman was pipped at the post by an ecstatic Button, who had not anticipated that his McLaren had the pace to compete for a top-ten grid position this weekend.
Grosjean lines up ahead of the usual gaggle of midfield challengers, with the likes of Sergio Pérez, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hülkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Jean-Éric Vergne in hot pursuit and covered by just half a second in a tightly-fought Q2 session.
Once again, Esteban Gutiérrez failed to make any kind of impression in qualifying, and joined fellow Latin racer Pastor Maldonado as the duo who were eliminated in Q1 with the Caterhams and Marussias.
Charles Pic was the best placed of that quartet, getting his updated Caterham almost a second clear of Jules Bianchi in the opening phase of qualifying. Giedo van der Garde managed to outqualify Max Chilton for the back-row honours.
2013 Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:32.330|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:32.584||+ 0.254|
|3.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:32.667||+ 0.337|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton^||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:32.762||+ 0.432|
|5.||Mark Webber^||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:33.078||+ 0.748|
|6.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:33.207||+ 0.877|
|7.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:33.235||+ 0.905|
|8.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:33.246||+ 0.916|
|9.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:33.327||+ 0.997|
|10.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||no time|
|Q3 Cut-Off – 1:33.702||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:33.762||+ 1.026|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:33.914||+ 1.178|
|13.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:33.974||+ 1.238|
|14.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:33.976||+ 1.240|
|15.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:34.105||+ 1.369|
|16.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:34.284||+ 1.548|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:34.425||Time||Gap**|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:34.425||+ 1.547|
|18.||Esteban Gutiérrez^||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:34.730||+ 1.852|
|19.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:35.283||+ 2.405|
|20.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:36.178||+ 3.300|
|21.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:36.304||+ 3.426|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:36.476||+ 3.598|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:32.746 by Sebastian Vettel
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:32.878 by Fernando Alonso
^ Webber and Gutiérrez will incur a 3- and 5-place grid penalty respectively for causing collisions at the previous Grand Prix in China. Hamilton incurs a 5-place grid penalty for unscheduled gearbox change.