Nico Rosberg secured pole position today for the Bahrain Grand Prix. He proved better in qualifying than his team mate Lewis Hamilton. Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest non-Mercedes driver and qualified third, ahead of Valtteri Bottas
Weather update: Track temps 3deg higher than in FP2 yesterday, currently 30deg. Bit of a headwind into T1 as per FP3
Esteban Gutierrez kicked Bahrain first qualifying under artificial lighting, soon followed by Sergio Pérez and Nico Hulkenberg. The Lotus drivers meanwhile chose to immediately go out on the soft tyre which has proved to be around 2 seconds a lap faster than the Medium from Pirelli here in Bahrain.
Gutierrez is obviously the first to set a time, but one minute later it shows he wasn't that fast at all. The Sauber drivers dropped down to 6th at a time when only 6 times were set on the board.
6 minutes into the session, Ricciardo goes fastest on his first lap on medium tyres, a tenth ahead of Alonso despite encountering some traffic along the way. Grosjean notably is just 4th despite having chosen to run his first flyer on the faster option tyre.
At the halfway mark, both Mercedes cars are again on top of the timesheet with Hamilton a tenth faster than Rosberg. Both are however a full scond ahead of Gutierrez who, contrary to the Mercedes cars, set his best time on the option tyres.
It took until 3 minutes from the end to see Bottas complete a timed lap, having chosen to go out for a reconnaissance lap on the mediums. Bottas' lap on softs was 4 tenths quicker than Hamilton, but soon topped by Hulkenberg as many more decided to have a go on the option tyres. In fact, every single driver, except for Hamilton, Rosberg and Ricciardo came out for a lap on options in the closing minutes.
As Q1 ends, Sutil is seen defending his position while on a flying lap, but his pace proved insufficient to get through to Q2. Eliminated are Maldonado, Sutil, Kobayashi, Bianchi, Ericsson and Chilton.
Q2 kicks off with Bottas going out, unsurprisingly immediately on the softer tyre. Since this is the first qualifying of the year, it should be noted that drivers will have to start the race with the tyres they set their best time on in Q2, rather than the tyres from Q3 as was the case until 2013. The regulations were tweaked over the winter to encourage running in the final part of qualifying.
Interestingly, for the first time so far, Hamilton set a slower time than Rosberg, possibly taking it careful with the tyres as both Mercedes drivers are fairly sure their first flying lap will be more than enough to progress through to Q3.
Q2 underlines the Mercedes domination of today with third placed Ricciardo nearly 9 tenths off of Rosberg. Behind him though, the competition is close with Button, Alonso, Perez, Bottas,Massa, Magnussen and Raikkonen all within 3 tenths. Further down, and eliminated are Vettel, Hulkenberg, Kvyat, Vergne, Gutierrez and Grosjean. Proof of that is both Williams drivers actually setting identical lap times in Q2.
In Q3, Bottas is the first man out, completing a lap in 1:34.247, 6 tenths faster than his best in Q2. Perez, Massa, Ricciardo, Magnussen and Alonso slot in behind while Rosberg goes fastest in 1:33.185. Hamilton goes second quickest, 3 tenths slower than his team mate.
Jenson Button on the other hand is on a different schedule and sets his lap around the halfway mark. Kimi Raikkonen at that time is still waiting in the pits, aiming to do a single lap just ahead of everyone's second attempts.
With 2 minutes left, all drivers are out on track, and Raikkonen is obviously the first set to complete his lap. The Finn initially goes 5th while Bottas is unable to improve. Hamilton went wide into turn 1 and also ruined his final lap, gifting pole to Nico Rosberg. Daniel Ricciardo improved to 3rd in the closing moments while Alonso improved on his first lap, but ended up slower than RAikkonen. The Spaniard will start from 10th on tomorrow's grid, just ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
|1||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||1:35.439||1:33.708||1:33.18||12|
|2||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||1:35.323||1:33.872||1:33.464||12|
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo (*)||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:36.220||1:34.592||1:34.051||16|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.998||1:34.747||1:34.346||19|
|11||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:35.549||1:34.985||-||9|
|12||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.874||1:35.116||-||12|
|18||99||Adrian Sutil (*)||Sauber-Ferrari||1:36.840||-||-||5|
* Adrian Sutil was handed a 5-place grid penalty for blocking during qualifying and will start from 22nd