Saturday, 21 April 2012

Vettel back in business with brilliant Bahrain pole

Sebastian Vettel returned to his 2011 qualifying form with pole position at Bahrain for Red Bull.

Sebastian Vettel hasn't been on pole or indeed anywhere near pole in any of the three races so far this season, but he got the job done today in Bahrain to take his second consecutive pole in Bahrain. Vettel shares the front row with Lewis Hamilton while Mark Webber is third and Jenson Button fourth.

Kovalainen got into Q2 with a sterling effort
Q1 had two major shocks, and the second one came about as a direct result of the first. A last gasp brilliant effort from Heikki Kovalainen got his Caterham into Q2 with a lap that Sky F1's Martin Brundle said was one of the best of Kovalainen's career. This was almost as much of a shock as what it caused: Michael Schumacher to be eliminated in Q1. Mercedes, as well as McLaren and Lotus, decided not to send their drivers out for a second run. Schumacher had a problem with his DRS system which meant he lost time. This is important as the DRS is a main part of what has made Mercedes so fast in qualifying this season. Charles Pic outqualified his team mate Timo Glock for the first time, as they were 21st and 23rd. Pedro de la Rosa also beat Glock. Jean-Eric Vergne was eliminated in Q1 for the third race in a row, but things got worse for the Frenchman as he drove through the red light as he returned to the pit lane to go to the weighbridge. He is likely to face at least a penalty, and possibly exclusion from the Grand Prix.

Romain Grosjean had another good qualifying
The track improved very late on in the session in Q2, which was critical to having such an exciting second session. Romain Grosjean produced a fantastic lap late on in the session to get through in third, but at the expense of his team mate Kimi Raikkonen, who was eliminated. This came about because of a late effort from Fernando Alonso to get his Ferrari through to Q3 again, but his team mate Felipe Massa was disappointing again and was out in Q2 in 14th. Daniel Ricciardo got his Toro Rosso into Q3 with a great performance as well. Pastor Maldonado, who will take a five place grid penalty after a gearbox change, didn't set a time and will start 22nd. Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time with Nico Rosberg 2nd, as the eliminations were Raikkonen, Kobayashi, Hulkenberg, Massa, Senna, Kovalainen and Maldonado.

Vettel is back to business with a great pole lap
And then the shoot-out. McLaren and Red Bull were the only teams to set times at the start, with Hamilton setting the early pace from Button, Webber and Vettel. Fernando Alonso left the pits but didn't set a time, he is ninth for tomorrow. Nico Rosberg did a single lap run but made an error late on in the lap wrecked his chance of pole and he starts fifth tomorrow. Webber took provisional pole, but his team mate took it away from him. Hamilton split the pair as his team mate Button fell down to fourth. Daniel Ricciardo took a superb sixth for Toro Rosso, while Romain Grosjean was seventh after another impressive qualifying performance. Perez is eighth, Alonso ninth and Di Resta tenth.

So a promising race tomorrow, with Vettel back on pole position. Red Bull have clearly got their act together and first and third on the grid is good reward.

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