Rosberg Leads Mercedes Front Row Lockout In Bahrain

Nico Rosberg stormed to pole position at the Bahrain International Circuit, denying Lewis Hamilton the chance to take his third consecutive pole position. While Rosberg’s first Q3 lap was initially intended to be a banker lap, he was able to abandon his second lap after Hamilton, his only challenger to pole, locked up his tyres and went off the track at turn 1.

Daniel Ricciardo put in a fantastic lap to take third place, just six tenths back from Hamilton and eight tenths shy of pole. However, his hard work will go unrewarded as he gets bumped back ten grid places due to a penalty he incurred in Malaysia after a team mistake saw him leave his pit box without a wheel properly attached. This means he’ll start thirteenth, while his team-mate moves into the top ten due to the subsequent reshuffle. Vettel couldn’t make the top ten under his own steam and he qualified eleventh. After his exit from Quali, he immediately came onto the radio to blast downshift issues for his lack of pace, but after he also suffered an uncharacteristic spin in FP3, Ricciardo seems to have the upper hand on his World Champion team-mate.

Valtteri Bottas will line up third on the grid for the race, equalling his best race start from the Canadian Grand Prix last year. The Finn was 1.1s behind Rosberg, but essentially the best of the rest which, it seems, is what the other teams are striving to be. Sergio Perez had the upper hand on Nico Hulkenberg all weekend, at the circuit where he also recovered the gap to his new team-mate Jenson Button after a slow start to his McLaren career last year. This year it was fifth for Perez and twelfth for Hulkenberg, the German blaming a mistake at turn 11 for his Q2 exit.

Kimi Raikkonen was sixth for Ferrari which was an underperformance on the Scuderia’s Friday pace. Alonso was even further down the grid as he qualified tenth, which he admitted was a disappointing drop of performance when it was most needed. Jenson Button qualified seventh, starting sixth, at his 250th Grand Prix. While he looked on the bright side and stated that there would be a “fighting chance” of making it to the podium in the race, Kevin Magnussen was less enthusiastic as he revealed that the team had hoped for more out of Qualifying, but took solace at the thought that their race pace seems to be better than their qualifying pace.

The Toro Rosso duo of Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne seemed to have a stronger pace than their 13th and 14th in Qualifying would suggest. Indeed Kvyat admitted that he was “a little disappointed and also surprised with only making it to Q2”. Esteban Gutierrez was “satisfied” with his fifteenth place, while Adrian Sutil took eighteenth and once again pointed towards the car’s weight. The German has vowed not to carry a water bottle on his car in a bid to take some weight from the car – a very dangerous risk to take given the temperatures. To add to his troubles, he was subsequently given a five-place grid penalty when the stewards deemed him to have impeded Lotus’ Romain Grosjean in an “unsafe manner”, meaning Sutil will start from the back of the grid.

Grosjean cannot blame Sutil for his sixteenth in Qualifying, not that he’d want to,  given the fact that he managed to make it out of Q1. Maldonado was not as lucky and missed out on the second qualifying, simply admitting that they didn’t have the pace in the cars. Lotus’ trackside operations director, Alan Permane, defended the drivers and congratulated them on their “superb pace”, but explaining that the car lacked a competitive single lap pace.

Kamui Kobayashi out-drove the Marussias, a particularly impressive feat given Caterham’s slow start to the weekend. Kobayashi believes that his result is a realistic view of where they are with performance. Ericsson was equally happy with his Qualifying and said that his Qualifying lap was the best lap he had done all weekend. Bianchi finished twentieth for Marussia, behind Kobayashi but ahead of Ericsson, and blamed a lack of straight line speed for the loss to Caterham. Chilton, who qualified dead last, admitted that he was disappointed as he felt that they could edge closer to Q2.

Bahrain Grand Prix Starting Grid, Including Penalties

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Lewis Hamilton
  3. Valtteri Bottas
  4. Sergio Perez
  5. Kimi Raikkonen
  6. Jenson Button
  7. Felipe Massa
  8. Kevin Magnussen
  9. Fernando Alonso
  10. Sebastian Vettel
  11. Nico Hulkenberg
  12. Daniil Kvyat
  13. Daniel Ricciardo
  14. Jean-Eric Vergne
  15. Esteban Gutierrez
  16. Romain Grosjean
  17. Pastor Maldonado
  18. Kamui Kobayashi
  19. Jules Bianchi
  20. Marcus Ericsson
  21. Max Chilton
  22. Adrian Sutil

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Filed under F1, Qualifying Report

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