Nico Rosberg has come out of the blue to grab pole position in Bahrain, making it the first Mercedes’ back to back pole position since Sitrling Moss and Juan-Manuel Fangio in 1953!
Green flag and there was another wait, albeit nowhere near the ridiculous time for which the teams stayed in the pits during the opening Qualifying session in China. Four minutes into Q1, Esteban Gutierrez creeped out of the grid, followed by team-mate Nico Hulkeberg. The set their laps in order of coming out, Gutierrez’s first effort going 1.35.027, beaten immediately by Hulkenberg with a 1.34.409.
The grid filed around as usual and set base laps to be improved on should they need to pick up the pace for fear of dropping out. Giedo van der Garde however, was on the radio to tell his team “There’s something in the cockpit, between my legs, it’s moving”. Yikes.
Red Bull were the next surprise, bringing both men out on the softer ‘medium’ compound Pirelli’s. Webber’s first lap put him a second off Fernando Alonso’s pace on the harder tire while Vettel’s lap put him second overall, still half a second down of Alonso.
Maldonado struggled to keep himself clear of the drop zone but a fast lap from Ricciardo demoted the Venezuelan to P17 while Gutierrez was the only other man outside the typical Marussias and Caterhams who failed to make it out from the first session.
As Q2 began, a fire crew was called to the Marussia garage for Jules Bianchi’s car which had a small fire onboard in a repeat of their FP3 fire. It was out almost before it had started, leaving a Marussia sitting in the garage covered in foam.
Red Bull were the first out on track, Webber followed by Vettel leading the rest of the grid. With base laps down, Nico Rosberg was leading ahead of Alonso, di Resta, Hamilton, Vettel and Massa.
Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa came close when the German approached the Brazilian far quicker than Massa was expecting him to. Massa jumped out of the way but not before Hulkenberg’s front wing came within inches of the rear of the Ferrari. Nico Rosberg also came close to a clash, virtually parking his Mercedes on the apex in front of Valtteri Bottas who had to back off as a result.
Thirty seconds of Qualifying remaining and both McLarens were outside the top 10 while Raikkonen lingered in 10th. Sutil crossed the line and demoted Raikkonen to P11 followed by Nico Hulkenberg into 10th and Button who then jumped to 10th. Raikkonen however, did make it out of Q1 – a 4th place for the Finn. Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean were the big name drop-outs, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Bottas and Vergne joining them.
The bulk of the cars graced the track as soon as it went green for Q3, di Resta leading the convoy while Red Bull chilled out. Relatively chilled anyways.
Di Resta’s first lap earned him a 1.33.388 followed by Rosberg’s 1.32.543, Hamilton’s 1.32.762 and Alonso’s 1.32.667 while Sutil abandoned his lap and returned to the pits. Then the wait began again, the crowd of what looks to be somewhere between 18 and 20 Bahrainis waiting until three minutes left for more action when Webber, Raikkonen and Rosberg led all ten cars out on track.
Mark Webber began his lap first, his 1.33.078 earning him fourth provisionally. Raikkone couldn’t better provisional 6th, di Resta fifth, Rosberg staying first while Vettel slotted in second. FP3 leader Alonso backed off and left Button as Rosberg’s sole competitor, until JB too backed off.
- Nico Rosberg
- Sebastian Vettel
- Fernando Alonso
- Felipe Massa
- Paul di Resta
- Adrian Sutil
- Mark Webber (Incl. 3 place penalty)
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Lewis Hamilton (Incl. 5 place penalty)
- Jenson Button
- Romain Grosjean
- Sergio Perez
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Nico Hulkenberg
- Valtteri Bottas
- Jean-Eric Vergne
- Pastor Maldonado
- Charles Pic
- Jules Bianchi
- Giedo van der Garde
- Max Chilton
- Esteban Gutierrez (Incl. 5 place penalty)