Vettel holds back Ferrari charge for pole (Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel spoiled Ferrari's party by grabbing pole position
Sebastian Vettel spoiled Ferrari's party by grabbing pole position

Sebastian Vettel will start the first race of the year from pole position after heading qualifying for Red Bull.

He needed just one run at the end of Q3 to displace the Ferrari duo at the front of the field.

But Michael Schumacher could only manage seventh on his return to F1.


It was no surprise to see all three of the new teams eliminated in Q1. But the battle for newbie honours was close, with Timo Glock edging Jarno Trulli by one tenth of a second.

After a mammoth struggle with hydraulic problems HRT F1 finally managed to get Karun Chandhok on the circuit for the first time. He did seven laps on his first run and although he was slowest he will be able to start tomorrow’s race. He shares the back row of the grid with team mate Bruno Senna.

Jaime Alguersuari had the distinction of being the only one of the established runners to be knocked out.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18. Jaime Alguersuari – 1’57.071
19. Timo Glock – 1’59.782
20. Jarno Trulli – 1’59.852
21. Heikki Kovalainen – 2’00.313
22. Lucas di Grassi – 2’00.587
23. Bruno Senna – 2’03.240
24. Karun Chandhok – 2’04.904


Vettel showed his hand in Q3, setting the quickest time which was also half a second better than team mate Mark Webber managed.

Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso traded fastest times early on. But things were not going so well at McLaren.

Both their drivers had to make a second attempt to ensure they made the cut and Jenson Button scraped into tenth place by less than two tenths of a second.

The Williams pair were also eliminated though Rubens Barrichello finally showed his hand and beat Nico H???lkenberg by half a second.

Vitantonio Liuzzi also failed to make the cut – he was around seven tenths slower than Adrian Sutil who did reach the top ten.

While Robert Kubica made it through to Q3 team mate Vitaly Petrov was 1.7 seconds slower and last in Q2.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11. Rubens Barrichello – 1’55.330
12. Vitantonio Liuzzi – 1’55.653
13. Nico H???lkenberg – 1’55.857
14. Pedro de la Rosa – 1’56.237
15. Sebastien Buemi – 1’56.265
16. Kamui Kobayashi – 1’56.270
17. Vitaly Petrov – 1’56.619


With the top ten qualifiers having to start the race on the same tyres they qualified teams tried different strategies in Q3.

Ferrari and McLaren both sent their drivers out for early laps followed by a tyre change and a final run. The other simply bided their time until the last possible moment.

While Alonso and Massa headed the times a mistake by Lewis Hamilton left him with a slow lap. Button didn’t get a flying lap in on his first run and returned to the pits after just an out- and in-lap.

Vettel headed the queue of runners making their final runs and his RB6’s pace through the middle sector proved decisive. That extra tenth of a second accounted for most of his advantage over second-placed Massa.

Hamilton’s run lifted him to fourth ahead of Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes.

Once again Michael Schumacher was a crucial couple of tenths slower than his team mate, leaving him seventh ahead of Button.

Vettel hailed the car’s performance as a “big surprise” after their problematic practice session yesterday. But do they have the race pace to match their qualifying performance? We’ll find out tomorrow.

Top ten drivers in Q3

1. Sebastian Vettel, 1’54.101
2. Felipe Massa, 1’54.242
3. Fernando Alonso, 1’54.608
4. Lewis Hamilton, 1’55.217
5. Nico Rosberg, 1’55.241
6. Mark Webber, 1’55.284
7. Michael Schumacher, 1’55.524
8. Jenson Button, 1’55.672
9. Robert Kubica, 1’55.885
10. Adrian Sutil, 1’56.309

223 comments on “Vettel holds back Ferrari charge for pole (Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying)”

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  1. This is Ferrari’s to lose. RedBull will run out of tyres early on, maybe even stopping before they think they should. Hamilton is faster than Button on low fuel, but the opposite is true on high fuel, according to McLaren. Mercedes are good on tyre life, but have some other issues which prevent fast low fuel laps (think back to last season when they were Brawn).

  2. The fact that so many are saying Ferrari have this in the bag is actually worrying me. I don’t want to take anything for granted and Massa put in a good performance (esp with a fever/flu or whatever) and has won from that position before but with the rule changes and Vettel and even Ham near by I can’t relax yet.

    1. Ferrari’s ‘long run’ pace is way better than McLaren’s and RedBull’s and , ironically, way better than Vettel’s and Hamilton’s compared to their own team mates! So Ferrari should have nothing to worry about..except maybe the first corner…and then maybe a Ferrari- ‘bound to get on youtube again’-pit stop…and then maybe run out of fuel. But apart from that, they should win.

  3. I don’t think that either RedBull or McLaren will score points tomorrow, if that makes you feel any better about Ferrari’s chances. :)

    1. It really does but I’m trying not to get my hopes up or expect too much especially after last year :P

  4. Come to papa :-)
    The first points of the prediction game are in the pocket. Thanks Vettel! Silverstone Grandstand here I come.

    What a great qualification it was. Very small differences. Good viewing of the cars. Nice to see the knee-handled-flap on the McLaren bodywork actually work pretty good adding about 6-8km speed on the straight.

    1. The only one near them in the speed trap was Sutil (JB 313.7 Ham 310.8 Sut 310.3), everyone else was 5-12 kph slower!

  5. I had predicted Alonso for pole – beautiful stuff from Vettel and Massa, and really respectable from Kubica I would think.

    This is going to be a great season! Gad – I can’t watch tomorrow, I’m only going to be able to watch a replay on Monday. I’ll go bonkers before then!

    1. I won’t be able to watch the Australian GP and I’m already angry with the world. Poor you :(.

  6. Mostly what I expected! HRT is 7 seconds off the pace, Ferrari and RBR look a little stronger than McClaren. Kubica and Sutil suprised me. That renault car didn’t look very stong at all but 9th is pretty good! Another perhaps smaller surprise is that Rosberg was quicker than Schumacher and Massa faster than Alonso. In the race it’s probably going the other way around. The Cosworth engine does not look very good, not one of the cars made it to top 10 while Williams is a strong team.

  7. So if the harder tyres make a difference of ca. 0,5 seconds, Sutil is as fast as Kubica?

    A lot depends on the cars being balanced and reacting to fuelloads. Then there is accidents. When seeing how bumpy the corners 6/7 are, i am afraid there will be some casualties during the first laps and/or when the tyres start to come off.

    Anybody remember last year having almost 15 cars with less than 1 sec difference? It looks like we are going to have larger differences between the cars this year, maybe different with each race and changing during the race based on tyre wear and emptier tanks.

  8. Anybody think Schumacher will burn his clutch tomorrow, to keep the similarities with his first race start up?

    Would be funny if he had some kind of problem like that

  9. For me it was interesting to hear Alonso say, that the with the long laps and fiddly new part, there is a lot of room for mistakes.

    Can the 1 second difference between pole and 4th be as much to do with mistakes? Webber sure lost almost a second in this middle sector.

    Maybe the McLarens are set up to get past other cars on the straits and then just keep those cars behind them in the tight corners?

    1. “Maybe the McLarens are set up to get past other cars on the straits and then just keep those cars behind them in the tight corners?”

      The McLaren’s were alwys going to be the fastest cars on the straights, so maybe you are right, and they are just playing to their strength.

      Their car setup may also be more ‘race friendly’ than the competition.

      It is entirely possible that McLaren have erred more towards a setup that looks after the tyres better in race conditions. Maybe Button has gone that way more than Hamilton?

  10. I had thought we would have REAL qualifying back this season, but it looks like it’s all about tyre choice/saving etc.

    I don’t like it.

    1. ‘Real’ qualifying used to be where the teams that could afford to, built chassis/engines/suspension/tyres etc that would only be used for qualifying (read-extremely fragile) and then another car would be wheeled out for the race. Not my idea of ‘real’ racing.

    2. Well the differences between the cars are huge. But not too much, when we take the characteristics of the track and the lap times (almost 2 minutes) into account.

      I think the new part of the track had much to do with it, as nobody knew how it would be for real. Alonso said, that differences have a lot to do with mistakes made. Webbers time is a good example of that – some mistakes and over 0,5 seconds is gone.

      Withmarsh from McLaren said, that the characteristics of their car didn’t allow them to make setup changes to get through there any better, without compromising lap times somewhere else any more.

  11. I expect the cars of the race line to have some problems getting away, as the track is still pretty dusty.

    Will be looking forward to seeing at least some 2 stoppers (maybe Vettel to keep going faster than Ferrari?)

  12. I’ve just watched quali on the iplayer having missed it live due to work. Boy am I glad we’re finally at the first race!

    There were so many triumphs that it’s hard to sum up, but having had few kind words for Karun Chandhok previously I’ve suddenly amassed a huge respect both for him and HRT – I mean what a way to start his F1 career! And kudos to him for giving it some having never driven the car before. Wow. To be fair I’m impressed with all the new teams for having survived their first ever quali session without major hiccups and very much look forward to the friendly rivalry between Virgin/Glock and Lotus/Trulli over the following nineteen races. Next up I have to sound my trumpet of jubilation to Felipe Massa for a fantastic return to F1 with P2 following a potentially life and career-ending accident. I’ve never been a Massa or Ferrari fan but I hope 2010 will be the year for that elusive Championship win for him. Finally, I was chuffed for Rosberg that he out-qualified his team mate as it must have been hard for him the last few months, and now the talking can stop and he can show his worth on track. As for Schumacher, it was hugely amusing seeing him take that opportunity in parc ferme to give the McLaren a once over – classic M.S. he hasn’t changed at all! :P

    It was a great qualifying session overall and a neat package from the BBC again, roll on tomorrow! (Felipe for the win).

  13. Didn’t really like the fact that 6 of 10 drivers chose to wait out Q3 till the final minutes. High chance we’ll see more of that. Did changing the rules improve the show, shall see later during the race. But i’m pretty certain it just ruined qualifying for me.

  14. I think some of you are forgetting that Chandhok probably would have been using Senna’s setup, it makes sense as Senna has done all weekend while Chandhok did nothing. I dont see why they would send him out with a basic setup and then change it after, they would have given him Senna’s, then made the necessary changes to make it work for Chandhok.

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