Vettel back on pole in the desert
Posted by Simon Wright
THE familiar German middle finger was shown in the Sakhir paddock yesterday as Sebastian Vettel returned to his customary spot of starting on pole position. It is the world champion’s first pole since the season finale in Brazil last November. Team-mate Mark Webber will start today’s race from third, confirming that Red Bull Racing’s qualifying pace is back. It was a tense scrap for pole position in what has to be said is a tense backdrop to the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Whilst the TV stations worldwide and UK newspapers lead with the trouble in the country and led to the death of another protester during demonstrations on Friday night, this is a qualifying report and shall remain that. The action on the track did cause a few unexpected surprises.
The difference in time between the prime and option tyres in Bahrain led to the demise of Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes in Q1. Schumacher had been amongst the top five in every practice session leading into qualifying, but by not chancing it on the option tyre, the German was knocked out by Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham Renault. Later, it was revealed that an issue with the DRS meant the seven times world champion couldn’t get the lap time he wanted. To compound Schumacher’s nightmare, a gearbox change overnight means he will start 22nd. It will be interesting to see his progress today. Jean-Eric Vergne also missed the cut and then ignored a pitlane red light which ordered the rookie to stop at the weighbridge. This was an excludable offense 20 years ago but amazingly, no action was taken against the Frenchman!
In Q2, a KERS problem left Pastor Maldonado high and dry in the pits and like Schumacher, the Veneuzelan has been hit with a five place grid penalty for changing his gearbox. Felipe Massa made his expected exit and the former double winner in Sakhir will start from a distant 14th. Kimi Raikkonen was squeezed out as the track temperature dropped and the track continued to evolve. The Lotus driver will start 11th and revealed afterwards that he only had himself to blame for his shock exit.
Paul di Resta made the final part of qualifying for the first time this season and will start tenth. Considering that Force India missed FP2 due to safety concerns following the events of this weekend, this is a notable achievement. With no option tyres left, Fernando Alonso decided to save his remaining sets for raceday and seemed content with ninth, setting no time like di Resta in Q3. The star of qualifying was the young Australian for Toro Rosso, Daniel Ricciardo. The Italian team has never scored a championship point around this circuit but they have a great chance today after Ricciardo charged to sixth place on the grid. It is his best ever qualifying performance and he showed his delight to Sky Sports F1 afterwards. “We had a pretty good morning and we thought all going well, we might have a crack at Q3 today. Each little step seemed to be very beneficial and I’m really happy, I’ll enjoy this today.”
Nico Rosberg couldn’t repeat his Shanghai heroics and he had to settle for fifth place, making a tiny error in the final corner on his best lap. This meant that the Red Bull and McLaren teams disputed the pole battle. After the first runs, Lewis Hamilton looked to have his third pole position of the season. However, Vettel and Red Bull had saved a set of option tyres from Q2 and he used them to perfection. His time was left than a 0.1secs quicker than Hamilton, but enough for his second Bahrain Grand Prix pole position. Webber has his best ever grid position here, which was previously fifth for Williams back in 2005 whilst Jenson Button aborted his final attempt and seemed satisfied with P4 on the grid. Relief more than delight was echoed on Vettel’s face after his return to the front of the field. Speaking to BBC Sport, he said: “We didn’t have the best Q1 or Q2 and I made a couple of mistakes. I knew though in Q3 we could make another step and the first run I was happy with, although it wasn’t perfect. I knew I had more to give on the new set and I was pleased. I owe this one to the boys in the garage for their hard work.”
With Red Bull back at the front after qualifying, this season continues to have many twists and turns. The race begins in just under an hour’s time and it is highly conceivable that we could have four different winners in the first four events for the first time since 2003.
2012 GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING RESULT
|1||SEBASTIAN VETTEL||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||18||1.32.422|
|2||LEWIS HAMILTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||13||1.32.520|
|3||MARK WEBBER||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||17||1.32.637|
|4||JENSON BUTTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||12||1.32.711|
|5||NICO ROSBERG||MERCEDES GP||10||1.32.821|
|6||DANIEL RICCIARDO||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||17||1.32.912|
|7||ROMAIN GROSJEAN||LOTUS RENAULT||13||1.33.008|
|8||SERGIO PEREZ||SAUBER FERRARI||17||1.33.394|
|9||FERNANDO ALONSO||FERRARI||11||NO TIME in Q3|
|10||PAUL DI RESTA||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||15||NO TIME in Q3|
|11 (Q2)||KIMI RAIKKONEN||LOTUS RENAULT||6||1.33.789|
|12 (Q2)||KAMUI KOBAYASHI||SAUBER FERRARI||13||1.33.806|
|13 (Q2)||NICO HULKENBERG||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||12||1.33.807|
|14 (Q2)||FELIPE MASSA||FERRARI||14||1.33.912|
|15 (Q2)||BRUNO SENNA||WILLIAMS RENAULT||14||1.34.017|
|16 (Q2)||HEIKKI KOVALAINEN||CATERHAM RENAULT||10||1.36.312|
|17 (Q1)||JEAN-ERIC VERGNE||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||8||1.35.014|
|18 (Q1)||VITALY PETROV||CATERHAM RENAULT||7||1.35.823|
|19 (Q1)||CHARLES PIC||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||8||1.37.683|
|20 (Q1)||PEDRO DE LA ROSA||HRT COSWORTH||6||1.37.883|
|21 (Q2)||PASTOR MALDONADO||WILLIAMS RENAULT||8||NO TIME IN Q2|
|22 (Q1)||MICHAEL SCHUMACHER||MERCEDES GP||5||1.34.865|
|23 (Q1)||TIMO GLOCK||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||7||1.37.905|
|24 (Q1)||NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN||HRT COSWORTH||7||1.38.314|
PASTOR MALDONADO RELEGATED FIVE PLACES FOR GEARBOX CHANGE
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER RELEGATED FIVE PLACES FOR GEARBOX CHANGE
About Simon WrightHello, I am Simon, 29 and currently work as a Picture Researcher & Product Editor for Topps Europe Ltd. In my spare time, I run the Premier League at 25 Website. I graduated from the University of Northampton in 2012 with a 2:1 degree in BA Hons Journalism.
Posted on April 22, 2012, in Qualifying Reports and tagged Bahrain, Gearbox, heikki kovalainen, mark webber, Mercedes, Michael Schumacher, Qualifying, Red Bull, Sakhir, sebastian vettel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.