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After Japan
Championship Standings:
1 Lewis Hamilton 277
2 Nico Rosberg 229
3 Sebastian Vettel 218
4 Kimi Raikkonen 119
5 Valtteri Bottas 111
6 Felipe Massa 97
7 Daniel Ricciardo 73
8 Daniil Kvyat 66
9 Romain Grosjean 44
10 Sergio Perez 39
11 Nico Hulkenberg 38
12 Max Verstappen 32
13 Felipe Nasr 17
14 Pastor Maldonado 16
15 Carlos Sainz 12
16 Fernando Alonso 11
17 Marcus Ericsson 9
18 Jenson Button 6
19 Roberto Merhi 0
20 Will Stevens 0
21 Alexander Rossi 0

1 Mercedes 506
2 Ferrari 337
3 Williams/Mercedes 208
4 Red Bull/Renault 139
5 Force India/Mercedes 77
6 Lotus/Mercedes 60
7 Toro Rosso/Renault 44
8 Sauber/Ferrari 26
9 McLaren/Honda 17
10 Marussia/Ferrari 0
Team-by-team summary: Saturday, Bahrain

Formula 1
Saturday, April 05, 2008


Robert Kubica and BMW-Sauber's first pole earned even the personal congratulations of Bernie Ecclestone as the team celebrated in the paddock, although many believe the deadpan Pole is carrying less fuel than his nearest rivals.  Team boss Mario Theissen - albeit delighted - admits that Ferrari "still has the faster car".  Teammate Nick Heidfeld is sixth, having struggled all weekend with the balance of his car, particularly on single laps.  "Obviously I'm not where I want to be," he said.


Felipe Massa has been the class of the field all weekend, and was miserable as he blamed bad luck, traffic and a key mistake for dropping to P2 in the decisive qualifying phase.  "We still have a great car," he warned.  He threatened to incur the stewards' wrath by apparently failing to slow for the yellow flags after Takuma Sato's Q1 crash.  Teammate Kimi Raikkonen was not happy with his fourth spot.


Lewis Hamilton, third on the grid, claims no ill-effects from his Friday shunt, insisting that a perfect lap would have delivered pole.  Team boss Ron Dennis dismissed Kubica's pole by assuming that the BMW is low on fuel.  "We have a good race strategy," BMW's Theissen answered coyly.  Heikki Kovalainen is fifth.


Seventh place accurately reflects Jarno Trulli's status so far in 2008 -- best of the rest behind the two Ferraris, McLarens and BMWs.  Teammate Timo Glock failed to make Q3.


Much better pace compared to Sepang puts Nico Rosberg back in Q3 (eighth), after he even topped the time sheets in a topsy-turvy Saturday morning practice.  "This is more or less the best we can do," he said.  Teammate Kazuki Nakajima was the slowest of the Q2 qualifiers.


Jenson Button's feat of putting his RA108 in the top-ten got plenty of paddock mentions, and he even pipped Fernando Alonso to ninth on the grid, despite running out of soft tires for Q3.  Rubens Barrichello, again a tenth or two off his teammate's pace, lines up twelfth, after a gearbox issue disturbed his lap in Q2.


Alonso was the slowest of the elite Q3 qualifiers, and his Q2 margin over teammate Nelson Piquet Jr was a comfortable four tenths.


Mark Webber missed beating Alonso or Button into Q3 by a fraction of a heart-beat, but "we weren't quick enough to go through," the Australian plainly admitted.  Teammate David Coulthard did not even break out of the company of Q1 stragglers -- albeit by the barest of margins.


Champ Car sensation Sebastien Bourdais deserves a special mention for proving the class of the Red Bull junior team so far this weekend (fifteenth), as his highly rated young teammate Sebastian Vettel dropped out with the backmarkers in Q1.  Even so, the gap between them was less than two tenths.


Giancarlo Fisichella is again the quicker Force India driver, but he and Adrian Sutil are still yet to break out of Q1 in 2008.  "We are close, but not quite there at the moment," Sutil said.


Anthony Davidson takes the rare honor of out-qualifying his teammate Sato, after the Japanese lost control of his car out of the last corner, tagged the barriers, and brought out a brief red flag.

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