Nico Rosberg has won his first pole position of the 2014 Formula 1 season, edging out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in a tight qualifying battle under floodlights at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Having trailed Hamilton in all three practice sessions, Rosberg delivered when it really counted, claiming the best spot on the grid by 0.279 seconds. Daniel Ricciardo was best of the rest with the third-fastest time, but he will drop ten grid places courtesy of his Malaysian Grand Prix pit release penalty.
Hamilton could have claimed a hat-trick of pole positions, but a lock-up on his final flying lap put paid to his hopes, thereby ensuring that Rosberg’s 150th Formula 1 start would be from P1 on the grid.
Ricciardo’s final flying lap proved good enough to earn him the third-fastest time and push Williams’ Valtteri Bottas down to fourth, but the result was rather academic given the Australian’s ten-place grid penalty.
With it being the first dry-weather qualifying session of the season, Bottas and teammate Felipe Massa were both finally able to show the FW36’s one-lap speed, with each making it into the final phase of qualifying.
Sergio Pérez took his Force India fifth-fastest, while Kimi Räikkönen was next up in his Ferrari, outqualifying teammate Fernando Alonso for the first time this season.
The McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen sandwiched Massa’s Williams on the timesheets, while a disappointed Alonso was slowest of the Q3 runners in tenth.
The second phase of qualifying delivered some surprise eliminations, with four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel getting knocked out of the Q3 reckoning for the second time in three races. The German missed out on a top-ten berth by just six-hundredths of a second, complaining of a set-up imbalance while also blaming himself for not extracting enough from his Red Bull RB10.
Nico Hülkenberg was another driver who was fancied to make it into Q3 in his Force India, but the German made a mistake on his final lap and could do no better than twelfth-fastest, lining up ahead of the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Éric Vergne, neither of whom made the Q3 cut.
Sauber’s Esteban Gutiérrez and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean were the slowest of the Q2 runners, with the latter getting himself involved in an on-track spat with Adrian Sutil during Q1. Grosjean was forced off the track by the Sauber driver at Turn 13 while both were trying to improve their respective fastest times, leading to a five-place grid penalty for Sutil, who failed to make it beyond Q1 along with the sister Lotus of Pastor Maldonado.
The Caterhams and Marussias occupied the final four spots on the timesheets, although this time it was the green cars which earned bragging rights. Kamui Kobayashi was just two-tenths slower than Sutil’s best Q1 time and comfortably clear of the quicker Marussia of Jules Bianchi. F1 rookie Marcus Ericsson outqualified his former GP2 Series rival Max Chilton.
Sunday’s race, to be held over 57 laps, gets underway at 6:00pm local time (GMT +3).
2014 Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||1:33.185||12|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||1:33.464||+ 0.279||12|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo^||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||1:34.051||+ 0.866||16|
|4.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||1:34.247||+ 1.062||15|
|5.||Sergio Pérez||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||1:34.346||+ 1.161||19|
|6.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||1:34.368||+ 1.183||16|
|7.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||1:34.387||+ 1.202||17|
|8.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||1:34.511||+ 1.326||14|
|9.||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||1:34.712||+ 1.527||17|
|10.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||1:34.992||+ 1.807||17|
|Q3 Cut-Off: 1:34.925||Time||Gap*||Laps|
|11.||Sebastian Vettel||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||1:34.985||+ 1.277||9|
|12.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||1:35.116||+ 1.408||12|
|13.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||1:35.145||+ 1.437||14|
|14.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||1:35.286||+ 1.578||14|
|15.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||1:35.891||+ 2.183||14|
|16.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||1:35.908||+ 2.200||10|
|Q2 Cut-Off: 1:36.654||Time||Gap**||Laps|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||1:36.633||+ 1.759||7|
|18.||Adrian Sutil^||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||1:36.840||+ 1.966||5|
|19.||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||1:37.085||+ 2.211||6|
|20.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||1:37.310||+ 2.436||6|
|21.||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||1:37.875||+ 3.001||7|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||1:37.913||+ 3.039||6|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:33.708 by Nico Rosberg
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:34.875 by Nico Hülkenberg
^ Daniel Ricciardo will serve a ten-place grid penalty stemming from his unsafe pit release during the preceding Malaysian Grand Prix. Adrian Sutil will serve a five-place grid penalty for an incident during Q1 with Romain Grosjean.
Images via FOM and Sutton Images