Vettel back in front with Bahrain pole position

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Bahrain, 2012Sebastian Vettel returned to a familiar position as he claimed pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

His final effort in Q3 put him at the head of the grid for tomorrow’s race. He will share the front row with Lewis Hamilton.

Their team mates will start behind them on row two as Nico Rosberg could only manage fifth.


Q1 produced a shock elimination as the rapidly-improving track conditions caught out several drivers.

A last-gasp effort by Heikki Kovalainen was enough for him to take Caterham into Q2 by 0.013s.

Just as much of a surprise as that was the identity of the driver he knocked out: Michael Schumacher.

Mercedes, along with McLaren and Lotus, elected not to send their drivers out for a second run. In Schumacher’s case, a problem with his DRS prevented him from going out to set another time. They paid the price as Kovalainen produced a superb lap.

For the third race weekend in a row, Jean-Eric Vergne also missed the cut for Q2. Worse, he was seen driving through a red light as he returned to the pits as marshals attempted to direct him into the weighbridge, and is likely to face a penalty.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’34.865
19 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’35.014
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’35.823
21 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’37.683
22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’37.883
23 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’37.905
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’38.314


Once again the closely-matched midfield produced another exciting Q2. With the track improving late in the session, and the changing wind keeping the teams guessing.

Romain Grosjean produced a superb late effort to secure his place in the final ten. But team mate Raikkonen missed the cut by a tenth of a second.

That came due to a last-gasp improvement by Fernando Alonso, who once again managed to get the Ferrari into Q3.

Meanwhile Daniel Ricciardo took the Toro Rosso into Q3, despite his team mate going out in the the first session.

Several teams got just one driver into Q3, including Force India and Sauber. Maldonado did not set a time after a KERS problem.

At the front, Lewis Hamilton pipped Nico Rosberg for the fastest time by a hundredth of a second.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’33.789
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.806
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’33.807
14 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’33.912
15 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’34.017
16 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’36.132
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault


McLaren and Red Bull were the only teams to set times at the beginning of Q3. Hamilton set the early pace followed by Button, Webber and Vettel.

Alonso also left the pits on a set of used softs but elected not to set a time.

Nico Rosberg elected to do a single run and may have regretted it when he made a mistake at the final corner. That left him fifth on the grid.

As they flashed across the line, Webber was first to take provisional pole position, but Vettel snatched it off him moments later by two-tenths of a second. Hamilton split their pair of them for second place as Button fell to fourth.

Ricciardo claimed sixth for Toro Rosso, with Grosjean and Perez the only drivers to set times. Di Resta joined Alonso in not setting a time, and the pair will share the fifth row of the grid.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’32.422
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.520
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’32.637
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.711
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.821
6 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’32.912
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’33.008
8 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.394
9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
10 Paul di Resta Force India

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix

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96 comments on Vettel back in front with Bahrain pole position

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  1. Red Bull seem to have re-discovered their qualifying speed, and if they’re as competitive in the race as they’ve been in the last few races then Red Bull are in for a big points haul.
    Mercedes were very disappointing in qualifying, I was expecting a Mercedes front row or at least a 2nd row

  2. It’ll be exciting to see if RB can keep up the pace tomorrow.

  3. adaptalis (@adaptalis) said on 21st April 2012, 13:26

    Ricciardo did an impressive job. It isn’t track evolution already when he beat Grosjean and Perez.

  4. John said on 21st April 2012, 13:27

    This season is incredible! Every track a different team is the quickest- Hope it continues throughout the season. Lewis Hamilton WC 2012!

  5. dragon said on 21st April 2012, 13:28

    Return of the dreaded finger!
    Was a great lap though, both Red Bull drivers looked quick and only a speedy Hamilton could split them.
    Was slighty (rather) annoyed at Brundle and Croft’s constant lavish praise of a stationary Di Resta, while Ricciardo quietly just slotted his STR into sixth position with a fantastic lap. In fact he was brilliant all of qualifying.

    • Was slighty (rather) annoyed at Brundle and Croft’s constant lavish praise of a stationary Di Resta, while Ricciardo quietly just slotted his STR into sixth position with a fantastic lap.

      di Resta sits in a stationary car more brilliantly than any other driver on the grid! It’s like poetry.

  6. Lachie (@lachie) said on 21st April 2012, 13:29


    And this season had such potential too ;)

    Seriously though hoping beyond hell we get a competitive 2012 race rather than a return to the 2011 boredom.

  7. Fair play to Vettel. He was under a lot of pressure because Webber looked like he was going to outqualify him again, and then he just pulls it out of the bag. Still fancy Hamilton for the win though.

    I was even quite pleased for Vettel until he showed his finger to the camera, yes Sebastian it is still the most infuriating gesture of all time.

  8. Ron Corporon said on 21st April 2012, 13:33

    Bring the Vettel hate. The tears of LH fans are delicious and will fuel Seb to another world championship.

  9. I don’t quite understand why everyone dislikes Vettel. He’s a great driver and has the ability to put a car on pole, so you should respect him.
    I do concede though that the brandishing of the finger can be annoying.

    • Asif (@) said on 21st April 2012, 13:47

      I agree that he should be admired. Regardless of what we say of his and Lewis’ personalities, they should be admired for their natural gifts.

      Vettel got his success so young and just seems to be in the right place at the right time. This is contrary to how most others live their lives so I guess people might want to attach “gold spoon” and “favored” labels to him. I think he’ll grow on folks though. Maybe he needs a couple of years of struggle in F1 before he is better appreciated.

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 21st April 2012, 13:59

        Yeah. What Asif said. I mean, Fangio had dominant cars for 4 years in a row – even when he moved, the dominant shoe had moved to that team! But people don’t say that about him any more.

        • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 21st April 2012, 14:14

          Same about hamilton to an extent

        • Nigel said on 21st April 2012, 14:21

          With the ever so slight difference that Fangio was 40 when he won his first championship.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 21st April 2012, 14:36

            Age shouldn’t matter. The point raised is that Fangio dominated F1 for the majority of his career.

        • TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 21st April 2012, 19:13

          As a massive fan of both the hate between Hamilton and Vettel fans always makes me laugh.

          People fail to see how similar the two drivers are. Both very successfully very early on, both extremely quick, both prone to the mistakes/incidents and both terrible at losing.

          It’s always funny to see opposing fans comment on why they dislike the driver whilst explaining the characteristics of the one they like.

      • david said on 21st April 2012, 20:44

        Right because Lewis Hamilton didn’t enter Formula 1 in a top tier team contending for the championship but Vettel did, right?

  10. Daniel Thomas (@iamdanthomas) said on 21st April 2012, 13:36

    Got to say I felt good for Vettel. I hated his dominance last year, but it’s not as irritating when it seems like a challenge for him, like he’s really had to battle.

    I’d have loved Hamilton to have a perfect weekend, but I don’t begrudge Vettel his pole at all.

  11. Pato Milan said on 21st April 2012, 13:38

    What a close qualy!!!
    Red Bull sure does look strong but with their inferior top speed and worse tyre management I still think McLaren will come out on to. Mercedes was disappointing and for this race they have lost their straight-line speed superiority which could penalize them in the race. Ricciardo was very impressive and so was Grosjean. Williams don’t seem to be as strong as in the previous races but they always disappoint in qualy, especially Bruno Senna, but they come back strong in the race.
    Q3 saw a driver from each team except for the bottom 3 and Williams which shows just how close it is out there!
    My driver of the day is definitely Kovalainen!!! Great effort!

  12. Asif (@) said on 21st April 2012, 13:39

    What a season so far! Tomorrow we’ll likely a 4th team taking a win this season in the 4th race. Great improvement over 2011. I just hope that Red Bull does not become dominant from here.

  13. sato113 (@sato113) said on 21st April 2012, 13:40

    hamilton has new set of mediums (or softs?) from not doing a second run in Q1. could help him in the race.

    • Asif (@) said on 21st April 2012, 13:59

      I think he has 2 new sets of mediums and 1 new set of softs. He was able to use the set of softs from Q2 for his first Q3 run.

      I was surprised that he had such a small gain on the brand new tires used in his final run. He was faster than the RB cars in the first sector throughout so he probably lost some time there. Otherwise, he could have been on pole.

    • bag0 (@bag0) said on 21st April 2012, 16:08

      @sato113, @f1asif
      I think he has 2 new mediums, as he was using new softs on both runs in Q3.
      I am not 100% sure about it, but Jenson made both on new sets, as they showed it on McLaren pitwall, but kinda makes sense. Why do you want a new set of softs when you will use the medium in the race? Unless they do a 4stopper but its highly unlikely.

      • blackmamba said on 21st April 2012, 22:26

        The top 5 all used a set of used softs in their first runs in Q3, so they all have a new set of these for the race. Button though set his fastest time on the used set because he abandoned his second run so he might be vulnerable to rosberg at the start!

  14. Rayz said on 21st April 2012, 13:40

    Raikkonen done by a bad decision from lotus again. But hes done only 6 laps, so more tyre choices for the race tomorrow?

    • ZanteX (@zantex) said on 21st April 2012, 14:53

      Maybe starting on the mediums, and taking the lead as the leaders pit very early, making a stop for the mediums slightly before the leaders’ second stops, and then taking on softs for a final sprint up the field for the last 10 laps…

  15. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 21st April 2012, 13:42

    Another quite mixed up grid. Schumacher doesn’t seem to be having much luck as of late which is a shame. Mercedes need both drivers to score well considering they only have 26 points, including a race win.

    That said, Schumacher usually makes good starts and I’ll try my best to focus in on him at the back as well as the guys at the front. The extra life in his tyres will help tomorrow I imagie.

    I, like many, expected that Ricciardo would have the initial edge over Vergne but perhaps not by so much in qualifying. Ricciardo usually managed to beat his team mate significantly at HRT last year so I guess this is just a continuation of that.

    Disappointed that Rosberg couldn’t stick it on at least the second row of the grid but the car does look good based on practice.

    Well done to Vettel. Just saw his pole lap and it was pretty much faultless aside from looking like he missed the apex of the hairpin in sector 2.

    • Guilherme (@guilherme) said on 21st April 2012, 15:04

      Schumacher doesn’t seem to be having much luck as of late

      I’d say he’s not having any luck! Gearbox problem in Australia, sent into a spin by Grosjean in Malaysia and then the pit error in China, and now DRS problems in qualifying. It’s a shame, he’s driving much better than the two previous years, but he’s not having any luck right now.

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