Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg took a quite shocking pole position for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit today. The German set a blistering time of 1m32.330s which proved impossible to beat for his rivals with only Red Bull’s triple world champion Sebastian Vettel coming close at 1m32.584s. The Ferrari of Fernando Alonso lines up third on the grid with a time of 1m.32.667s. The top four drivers were covered by only half a second which shows how competitive it was out there during Q3.
Lewis Hamilton was outqualified by his team mate today and ended up fourth but will have to take a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
He will start from 9th on the grid for the race. Mark Webber , who was 5th fastest will start from 7th after he takes the penalty from his clash with Giedo van der Garde at last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. Felipe Massa qualified 6th, but would start from 4th on the grid, behind his team mate after penalties for both Hamilton and Webber. It is interesting to note that Massa is the only driver in the top 10 to start on the harder of the two compounds. This will allow him to go deeper into the race before pitting hence giving him a strategic advantage over the rest. If he has the pace to match the leaders, it will work quite well for the Brazilian during the race.
The Force India pairing of Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil continued their strong run during this weekend and will start from 5th and 6th on the grid. The Force India cars have been pretty strong in the long straights and it will be difficult to get past them during the race. Kimi Raikkonen will start from 8th behind Mark Webber after having a patchy Q3 session. The Finn would be disappointed with his position as the Lotus was one of the favorites for pole and the win this weekend. The car has done extremely well during the long runs in practice and would be a potent force during the race. However, Raikkonen will have to make a quick start and the Lotus team will have to make the right strategic calls if they are to get out this fiasco in good shape.
Bringing up the rear of the top 10 is Jenson Button’s McLaren. Such is the state of the McLaren that they were happy to get into Q3 in itself. Button chose not to set a time like he did in China and will have an extra set of tyres for the race. His team mate, Sergio Perez will start from 12th. The Mexican has been under pressure to perform and will be comforted by the fact that he has lessened the gap to his team mate in qualifying.Williams had another horrid session with their cars qualifying down in 15th and 17th places. They will have to pull their socks up or risk getting left behind like they were in 2011.