Bahrain GP: Rosberg takes pole over Vettel
Nico Rosberg has won pole position for tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix in his Mercedes. Rosberg's lap of 1m32.330s beat Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull who carded a time of 1.32.584s.Fernando Alonso's Ferrari will start third.
Rounding out the top-5 were Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber. Hamilton will lose five places for having a gearbox change prior to the session. Webber faces a three-place penalty for his collision with Jean-Eric Vergne in China.
All five drivers set their time on medium compound Pirellis. Felipe Massa was sixth but he set his time with the hard compound Pirellis.
Sebastian Vettel (2nd, 1:32.584): "I'm not disappointed with that. Well done to Nico, it was a strong lap and it was all his today. When I crossed the line I saw I was second on the screen and didn't know how much I was missing to pole as the lap was fine. When I got told the gap to P1, it was clear that even with a perfect lap he was unbeatable today, but nevertheless I'm very happy. We managed to save some tires throughout qualifying and it will be about tire degradation tomorrow, so we'll see what happens. It's good to start from the front."
Mark Webber (5th, 1:33.078): "I would have like to have got a bit more out of the car in that session and been a bit further up, but seventh with a penalty isn't the end of the world. We have a different tire strategy to some of the others and it's a long grand prix, so let's see how we go. I'm proud to be starting my 200th grand prix tomorrow. When I was a youngster arriving in Formula One, I never thought I would be in the sport for so long. I have had some incredible highs and some tough lows, but that's top line sport. I have learned a huge amount during that time, about myself and life in general, and the drive is still very strong for the sport; I still enjoy it a lot. It's another number, but it would be good to get a good result to mark it."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "That was a very tightly contested qualifying session. We stuck to a plan we formulated before qualifying, using one set of the soft tires in each of the sessions. Sebastian did a super job to qualify on the front row alongside Nico Rosberg. Mark, despite his three place penalty, will line up in seventh place and with the way you can overtake at this track he'll be able to make progress from there. So, a very solid qualifying and one we can hopefully build on in the race tomorrow. Well done to Nico for getting pole today."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "Bahrain presents some unique challenges for the engine, with very hot ambient temperatures and low humidity. This can be tricky for the cooling systems and is something we need to monitor closely to ensure it doesn't become a problem. Equally the lack of running here throughout the year makes the track conditions very slippery, so we tweak the engine maps to give improved grip. All in all it's a positive result today and gives us a lot of options on strategy tomorrow."
Fernando Alonso (3rd, 1:32.667): "It's really good news that once again we managed to do well in qualifying, which is our Achilles Heel! This is now the third time this year that we end up in the top three and, even if usually Sunday goes better thanks to our race pace, I am really pleased to see our potential already maximized on Saturday. The data seen from Friday's long runs means we can be optimistic about a race in which our main adversaries are represented by Vettel and the Red Bull in front and the Lotuses which might be behind us on the grid, but they will definitely be in the game. Because of the penalties for Hamilton and Webber, Felipe will start from fourth: I think it's much better that I find myself alongside my team-mate's Ferrari than Lewis' Mercedes! We won't discover which is the best strategy until tomorrow and it's impossible to make predictions. But I think the best tire for the race will be the hard and that could work in our favor, given it's the one we have been most comfortable on all weekend."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:33.207): "I am very pleased with the outcome of this qualifying, because in the end, the decision to take a risk in Q3, going in a different direction to the one we had originally planned, turned out to be the best one. On the Medium compound, I didn't feel able to fight for the top places, the car had little grip and suffered a lot at the back. Even with the Hard tires, the chances of ending up further down the order was extremely high, but I still opted to stay with the tires I felt most comfortable on. The penalties for two of the drivers ahead of me – Webber and Hamilton – mean I now move up the grid to fourth place, a point from where I can race with the leaders. Starting on the Medium will definitely be an advantage, but to have a good race it will be vital to find the best strategy and ensure everything runs perfectly."
Pat Fry: "It was reasonably straightforward to interpret this qualifying session and the good start positions we now have mean we are optimistic for tomorrow's race and they also reward the entire team for all their efforts in improving our performance during qualifying. Of the updates brought here to Bahrain, we have decided to use only the most significant ones, while we will introduce the others in the upcoming races. We are not yet where we want to be, but the gaps seen today tell us that our work is going in the right direction and we must continue like this. Tomorrow, for the third consecutive time, Fernando will start from third place, which is on the clean side of the track here and we hope that could be an advantage at the start. Felipe's fourth place is a great basis from which to build a race that he will run on a different strategy to his team-mate, having opted to use the Hard tires in Q3. Once again, we can expect a Sunday on which drivers will have to pay close attention to tire degradation, while the pit wall will have to make the right calls."
Jenson Button (10th, No Time): "It's been a very difficult weekend so far, but 10th is a strong result for us today. The team is used to fighting at the front, so it's the little things – like getting through into Q3 – that can make a positive difference. Of course, it's going to be a tough race tomorrow, though. I'll race as quickly as I can, but I don't want people to expect too much from us. However, there are positives to be drawn from today: we out-qualified a Lotus, which was a surprise, and I'll be driving the first car starting on new tires tomorrow. As in China, that brings a slight strategic advantage, so I'm hoping we can have another decent outing. I think we've both got a chance of scoring points – it would be great for both Checo and me to finish in the top 10 tomorrow."
Sergio Perez (12th, 1:33.914): "Qualifying was very difficult, and it was disappointing to miss out on getting into Q3 by just a few tenths. We didn't really have the pace to get any further up the grid, though; I think Jenson showed the maximum that was possible for us in Q2 today. Still, we're in a better position to fight for points tomorrow. I've set my car up to look after its rear tires, so I think our race pace should be a bit more consistent. It's still going to be hard to get into the points tomorrow, but I hope we can have an okay race and make it into the top 10. But it's going to be a long, hard race."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Both Jenson and Checo did a very disciplined job out there today. Going into this race weekend, we knew it was going to be difficult for us – this is a rear-limited circuit, a characteristic that accentuates the weaknesses we have with our car. Still, those circumstances required patience and hard work, and I think the drivers and the engineers got the best from a package that's more limited on a circuit like this. Jenson's lap in Q2 was a phenomenal effort and allowed him to get through to Q3. While that's not what anybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is used to accepting, we acknowledge that these are currently difficult times, and that lap was a welcome fillip. Equally, Checo drove extremely well in Q2, and was just a couple of tenths shy of Jenson's top-10 effort. As in China last weekend, our efforts are primarily focused towards aiming for a decent result in the race tomorrow. Both our drivers are great racers, and I'm sure they'll go out there and do a fantastic job for us."
Kimi Raikkonen (9th, 1:33.327): "It wasn't the easiest qualifying session after a weekend which hasn't been the easiest so far either. Yesterday it was difficult at times to find the balance with the car and I found that again today. This morning it felt good and we didn't do too bad in free practice, but we didn't quite get it right this afternoon. My lap wasn't great, but it's a long race so we'll just have to see what we can do tomorrow."
Romain Grosjean (11th, 1:33.762): "It's obviously disappointing to miss out on Q3 but it's just one of those things. There weren't any issues with the car, we just tried to be a little too brave by doing just one run and unfortunately it didn't pay off. On the positive side, we've found a lot of performance this weekend compared to the first three races and our pace on the prime tires in Q1 looked very strong. We qualified in similar positions last year and came away with a double podium, so it's still all to play for."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "We're obviously disappointed with the qualifying result. We just missed the cut for Q3 with Romain who had been looking strong, but unfortunately the track evolution caught us out a little bit and he made a couple of small errors on his only lap in Q2. If this hadn't been the case, we're sure he would have made it through. Kimi's session was a bit more of a mystery. His second run in Q2 was pretty respectable but it just didn't come together for him in Q3. He's been strong all weekend up until that point, so we'll need to trawl through the data this evening to understand what happened. Romain has plenty of new tires to work with and starting on fresh rubber should give him a good boost at the start and through the first stint. We can decide which compound he will start on so we'll be crunching the numbers to work out the optimum strategy. We were very happy with our long run pace yesterday, with both cars showing decent pace and manageable tire degradation levels. It's a tough race on tires which tends to work to our advantage and we managed a great result from a very similar situation this time last year, so we're certainly not out of it yet."
Nico Rosberg (1st, 1:32.330): "For the first time this season everything went perfectly today and that's a great feeling. Pole position feels like a kick start for me and it's a great achievement from everyone in the team. We still had some work to do after the practice sessions yesterday and the team had a busy night to turn it around. Thanks to them for the quickest car out there today. The race tomorrow is a different story and we're very aware of that. It will be difficult, especially with the rear tires, and we know that other teams were stronger than us on the long runs on Friday. It will be a big challenge to stay ahead but starting from the front helps."
Lewis Hamilton (4th, 1:32.762): "It wasn't the best of days for me but big congratulations to Nico. Back to back pole positions for the team is great and Nico did a really good job out there. I couldn't quite find the pace today and with losing five places from changing the gearbox, we've got a tough challenge ahead starting from ninth place. These things happen and I'll do my best tomorrow. The best chance to gain some positions will come at the start and then we'll see how it goes. Tire degradation will be a huge factor so it's going to be a very interesting race."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "As a team, we recovered well from two difficult practice sessions yesterday. Neither driver was happy and, together with their engineers, they did a great job to put us in a much stronger position today. Nico produced a great lap to take pole. I said earlier in the season that I think we have the best driver pairing in Formula One and they are proving it with their performances. Lewis had some problems this morning but he coped with them well and recovered strongly to qualify fourth fastest. He will drop five places on the grid tomorrow but we can still expect him to deliver a strong race. We know tomorrow's race could be very different and perhaps today's slightly cooler conditions favored us, so let's see what it brings."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "First and fourth places were a strong result this afternoon and we have to be very happy with Nico's pole position. He did a great job and both of his timed laps in Q3 would have put him on pole position. Lewis has had a more difficult and disrupted weekend so far so qualifying was all about damage limitation for him, which he managed to do extremely well. However, we should be under no illusions about tomorrow. It will be a very tough race and it will be important for us to race hard in order to get both cars to the finish in strong positions."
Nico Hulkenberg (14th, 1:33.976): "We always knew it was going to be difficult to get into Q3 today. However, I expected we would be starting closer to the top ten. The car felt quite good in the practice session this morning, but then the wind changed and it seemed very sensitive to that. I think, it will be a long race tomorrow, especially because we know we are lacking pace at this circuit, but we will fight to achieve the best result possible."
Esteban Gutierrez (18th, 1:34.730): "It's not a good feeling starting last, but we always knew that this weekend was going to be difficult. Our speed this weekend has not been great. It was important to drive a clean qualifying today, but I did my best and this is what I got. It was a bit of a disadvantage to do the race preparation in free practice three, because I didn't get enough practice on the new tires on low fuel. However, it was important because the data will help us to prepare the strategy for the race tomorrow."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "We were able to improve the performance during the three free practice sessions, but it was not enough in the end. It's a difficult weekend for our team. In Esteban's case it was clear he would have to start from a long way behind due to his grid penalty. Nico was able to improve consistently, but he was unlucky because he ended up less than a tenth of a second behind 12th. It's a challenging situation for the race, but we accept it and we will make the best of it tomorrow."
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: "Due to Esteban's penalty we elected to concentrate on high fuel running in FP3 and approach qualifying in a different way today. We have plenty of new sets of fresh tires left for him tomorrow, and we are looking at the best way of using them. On a more standard program, Nico was happy with the car in FP3, but it was more difficult to drive in qualifying, and we need to understand that. To be within the same tenth as the two cars in front of you is always disappointing at the end of qualifying. We look forward to maximizing the strategy with the goal of scoring points."
Paul di Resta (7th, 1:33.235): "We knew we were in good shape to challenge for Q3 today and we looked strong throughout all the sessions. As the tracked gripped up we didn't quite have the speed we expected, but I'm still pretty happy with what we've achieved, especially as I will move up to fifth with the grid penalties. We're in a great position for tomorrow; the car is strong and our long run performance yesterday gives us every reason to be hopeful of challenging for some good points."
Adrian Sutil (8th, 1:33.246): "The car was quite tricky to drive today and the grip level of the track made it difficult to complete the perfect lap. My final lap in Q3 could have been better, but I'm pretty happy with the outcome, especially if I move up to sixth. The track suits us, we like the warm weather and things look promising for tomorrow. It's a good starting position to have both cars on the third row and we will be looking to move forward in the race."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "An excellent team effort today brings us our best qualifying performance of the year. We knew we had the pace to get both cars into Q3 and in the end there was very little to choose between Paul and Adrian with just a hundredth of a second separating them. We expect to move up a couple of positions with both cars when the grid penalties are handed out, which puts us in a very strong position for the race. We have no concern with the tires so the key tomorrow is to hold track position and find some clean air with the strategy so that we can make the most of our strong race pace."
Valtteri Bottas (15th, 1:34.105): "I had a bit of traffic in Q1 so I was quite lucky to get through given that one or two tenths can be the difference between progressing to Q2 or not. I put a good lap together in Q2, the best lap I've driven here this weekend, so I'm pleased about that. I feel I got everything out of the car today but tomorrow will be a long race in these conditions, so I will be ready to challenge right from the start."
Pastor Maldonado (17th, 1:34.425): "I have an extra set of tires which is positive for tomorrow, and we are working together as a team to look at what we can do in the race. Qualifying 17th is a bit disappointing, but we are realistic with our targets at the moment. We are trying to do our best from the track and at the factory, and we are working to have a better qualifying performance soon."
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "Following practice this morning, our long run pace was looking better against the competition so our focus this afternoon was to just get into Q2. We ran new option tires in Q1 on both cars to give us the best chance, but unfortunately we didn't quite manage this with Pastor, despite both drivers posting identical times. The times were extremely close, with Valtteri just 0.4 seconds off Q3, so there was a chance we could have achieved more. Now we need to look to tomorrow and concentrate on our long run performance, and getting the best strategy for the race."
Daniel Ricciardo (13th, 1:33.974): "This result is not too bad, even if it's unfortunate that so far, we have not found the pace we showed last week. I don't think I could have done better than this today, looking at the guys we managed to out-perform in qualifying and how we went in free practice. We were close to a McLaren and ahead of both Saubers and Williams, so I feel that is where we should be on current form. As for tomorrow, I'd love to get back in the points again and the tires could produce some interesting surprises, which might work in our favor."
Jean-Eric Vergne (16th, 1:34.284): "It was a strange session for me, as I set my fastest lap in Q1 on the Hard tire. After that, on the Mediums that are meant to be faster, I was incapable of improving my time. The car seems to have changed a lot over the weekend and we need to find out why. At least looking at my lap time on the Hard it wasn't too bad, but there's something we don't understand about the Mediums. We can't say the car is bad, so I feel we can do better tomorrow, when there are still possibilities to do something in the race."
James Key, Technical Director: "On Friday we were fairly pleased with where we were, although we knew the car was not as well balanced as it could be. So we worked overnight and made changes for FP3, when we found that the balance was improved but somehow, while we had good pace on the Prime, we were struggling more on the Option. For qualifying, we went back a little bit on our settings to ensure we hadn't made the car insensitive to the tires. Jev got through into Q2 with a time set on the Prime and Daniel had a reasonable lap on Options. We knew it would be tough to get to Q3, especially as Force India are clearly quicker than us in qualifying trim this weekend. In the end, it was extremely tight, with Daniel doing a good job on the Options, but Jev didn't get his Option lap and we now need to look at the data to understand what happened. The gap between the two types of tire here is much less than in China and the Option seems to be a reasonable tire to race on, so it's useful that we have a couple of sets of new Options for that, as looking after the rear end of the car will be a key element in the race."
Charles Pic (19th, 1:35.283): "I'm pretty happy with where we finished today. We'd obviously have liked to be a little higher up the grid but with the package we have here in Bahrain I think we got as much as we could today in quali, so we can be reasonably pleased. We have a couple of new parts here which have definitely helped us make some progress, and after a good FP3 we were well set for quali. Yesterday the car had quite a bit of understeer which is pretty much a direct result of putting on updates at the back of the car, but the changes we made overnight gave me a much more balanced car and the final lap time today in Q1 showed the progress we've made since last week. Now we need to carry that pace into tomorrow's race and having seen relatively good deg levels on the long runs we could have an interesting fight with a few cars ahead."
Giedo van der Garde (21st, 1:36.304): "For me that was a decent qualifying session and I'm happy with where we finished up, considering the fact I'm in the same car we've raced since Australia without the new parts Charles has been running here in Bahrain. Overall I'm pleased for the whole team as his lap time today is a sign of what we have to come and the amount of hard work everyone's putting in to show how we can perform. In Spain I'll have the same updates as my teammate and that'll obviously mean I'll be able to compete at the level he is, but for today I got nearly everything out of the car on that final lap and I think I can play an important role in the race tomorrow on a track that we're clearly looking OK on."
Jules Bianchi (20th, 1:36.178): "After a positive start to the season, I think it has perhaps been a little frustrating for all of us that we have hit upon a circuit that is not so well-suited to our car. This happens - up and down the pitlane – but we have done a good job to stay focused and do what we can to make the best of it here. The balance problems we experienced yesterday were quite pronounced and gave us a tough start, but I think the direction we have taken to resolve them is a good one. Overall we have faith in our race pace and strategy and we will see tomorrow whether or not this was destined to be our race."
Max Chilton (22nd, 1:36.476): "I'm much more comfortable heading into the race than today's timesheet might suggest to be honest. After a good day yesterday we had the KERS water pump problem this morning and I lost half of the Free Practice 3 session. Although that wasn't the best preparation for qualifying, with the running I did get I could see that the changes we made since yesterday are positive and we have made progress in the right direction. Things were going well in qualifying but unfortunately I locked up into Turn 11 and looking at the data I easily lost three to four tenths there. So, again, it's a question of looking beyond the timesheets at where we really stand for the race tomorrow and staying focused. We're playing the long game here in Bahrain this weekend, so if I can get the right side of Van Der Garde at the start I think we can show more of the progress we have made behind the scenes."
John Booth, Team Principal: "The build-up to the race has not been entirely straightforward again, but we're optimistic that, as was the case in China last weekend, we will experience a much better Sunday. There is no denying that this track has not favored our car so well, but behind the scenes we've actually made good progress to overcome the balance issues which have been our main concern. A KERS water pump problem on Max's car created another disappointing setback for him, so all credit to him for recovering so well in qualifying. He was disappointed with a small mistake on his second quick lap but looking beyond that he did the best job possible under the circumstances today and should be proud of the way he has responded to the challenges we've presented him with. Jules has also done his customary solid job and I think we can look forward to strong performances from both of them tomorrow. We now have a better understanding of the problem we experienced in the garage today with Jules' car. This morning, a small amount of fuel was spilt due to an issue with the fuel connector. We examined all the components and made some changes ahead of qualifying, but unfortunately there was a further small fuel spillage this afternoon at the end of the session. On both occasions, at no point did the fuel ignite. The car crew were quick to respond with extinguishers as a precautionary measure, entirely in accordance with our procedures, and this served to make the situation appear rather more dramatic than it was. Having said that, getting to the root of the issue has been our highest priority, and we are now confident that the measures we have taken will prevent a re-occurrence."
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