April 20th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Nico Rosberg stormed to his second career pole position in Bahrain, ahead of World Champion Sebastian Vettel and last week's Chinese Grand Prix winner, Fernando Alonso.
The first part of qualifying saw the Williams drivers deliver identical lap times, something that is extremely unusual in the era of timing to thousandths of a second. Veltteri Bottas completed a lap in 1:34.425, which put him 16th on the grid, and Pastor Maldonado then crossed the line with exactly the same lap time. As Bottas set the time first, he was classified ahead of Maldonado, who therefore finished the session 17th and did not progress to Q2.
Caterham have made a clear step forward with the updates on Charles Pic's car - Pic qualified nine tenths of a second ahead of Marussia's Jules Bianchi, who has had a comfortable advantage over the Caterhams in the first three races of the season. Bianchi had his own problems after Q1 - footage of the pit garage showed the mechanics using fire extinguishers on his Marussia. There was a fuel vapour fire in Bianchi's car in FP3 this morning, and it seems likely that the problem recurred in qualifying.
Maldonado, Gutierrez, Pic, Bianchi, Van der Garde and Chilton were eliminated at the end of Q1. Gutierrez will start last after his five-place grid penalty from last week's Chinese Grand Prix is applied.
Q2 saw most of the drivers using the medium tyres as small differences in lap time started to make more difference. The surprise elimination in Q2 was Romain Grosjean, who ended up 11th, well off the pace of his Lotus team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen. Jenson Button squeaked through to Q3 by setting the tenth fastest time in Q2, but Sergio Perez in the other McLaren could not quite find enough pace for the top ten and qualified 12th. Grosjean, Perez, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Bottas and Vergne were eliminated at the end of Q2.
Q3 saw Rosberg dominate from start to finish. He set an initial time of 1:32.5 that would have been enough for pole position, but then did a second run at the end of the session and improved his time just to be safe. Sebastian Vettel qualified second with Fernando Alonso third. Ferrari chose to send Massa out on the hard tyres, while everyone else was on mediums. Massa managed to set the sixth fastest time, which sets him up for a competitive race, particularly as he will be able to run longer in the opening part of the race than the drivers around him.
Full qualifying results:
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:33.327||1:32.746||1:32.584||12|
|5||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:33.966||1:33.098||1:33.078||13|
|7||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:33.762||1:33.335||1:33.235||14|
|8||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.048||1:33.378||1:33.246||16|
|21||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:36.304||7|
|Q1 107% Time||1:39.379|