Vettel takes his first pole of 2012
Sebastian Vettel has returned to his usual qualifying position as he posted the best time in qualifying, the first time he does so this season. Lewis Hamilton has to settle for second place while the second Red Bull steered by Mark Webber start from P3.
Qualifying at Bahrain kicked off a bit slowly as few drivers chose to go out early. In fact 6 minutes into the 20-minute session, only 4 drivers have set a time. Hulkenberg is fastest, ahead of his teammate and both Marussia cars.
7 minutes into the session, finally a lot of others are out for a run. Massa is the first among them, but the Brazilian is unable to improve either Force India.
2 minutes later, Kobayashi is the first to go faster, despite being on the harder tyre. His teammate Sergio Pérez posted a third fastest time, before Webber and then Button take over. Lewis Hamilton on the other hand made a slight mistake and went off track. Rosberg also finds himself off track a few seconds later, while Webber runs wide to let others pass by easily.
When the business on track has reduced a bit, there's only 4 minutes left on the clock. Romain Grosjean and Kimi Räikkonen at that moment are topping the times. Rosberg is 3rd, Hulkenberg still in 4th, followed by Alonso, Button, Hamilton and Schumacher.
Before the final few laps, Kovalainen is in 17th and is in for a chance to go through to Q2. Behind him are Senna, Petrov, Vergne and both drivers of Marussia and HRT.
As Massa was also far from safe, Ferrari sent him out again, now on the softer tyre to make sure he gets through. He posts the 4th time, but many others have also chosen to post another lap on the soft tyres as they could otherwise be knocked out.
Schumacher on the other hand did not come out again and eventually got pushed out by Kovalainen. The 7-times world champion is clearly angry at that decision which puts him 18th on tomorrow's grid. Behind him are Vergne, Petrov, Pic, De La Rosa, Glock and Karthikeyan.
Interestingly this marks the first time a Caterham gets through to Q2 this season.
The Force India cars are once again one of the first on track during Q2. The track is quickly flourishing of activity though, with Hamilton setting the fastest lap, 0.010s faster than Nico Rosberg. Webber is 3rd, Button 4th and Vettel 6th.
While McLaren and Red Bull didn't have to come out again after the first run, most other cars still did. Grosjean posted the 3rd fastest time, Alonso 4th. Both of their efforts were well needed as they would have been eliminated otherwise.
This means that Kimi Räikkönen is out, along with Kobayashi, Hulkenberg, Massa, Senna, Kovalainen and Maldonado. Kovalainen only completed a single run at the closing stages of the session, while Maldonado opted to not come out. He will face a 5 place grid penalty tomorrow as well due to a gearbox change on his car earlier in the day.
In Q3 the first man on track is Mark Webber. He sets the mark at 1:32.785, immediately improved by both McLaren drivers. Vettel who is a bit further down the track is 4th with his first flying lap.
All others are waiting a bit longer, opting for a single attempt, or at least the use of a single set of tyres.
In these final attempts, it quickly emerged that Red Bull was well on form, with first Webber and then Vettel posting the fastest lap. As Hamilton did not manage to improve enough, he'll have to settle for second, behind Vettel who takes pole for the first time this year.
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:34.308||1:33.527||1:32.422||18|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:34.015||1:33.311||1:32.637||17|
|5||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||1:34.588||1:33.219||1:32.821||10|
|9||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||1:34.760||1:33.403||No time||11|
|10||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.624||1:33.510||No time||15|
|13||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.601||1:33.807||-||12|
|17||18||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||1:34.639||No time||-||8|
|18||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG||1:34.865||-||-||5|
|22||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:37.883||-||-||6|