Rosberg knows rivals are stronger despite pole

2013 Bahrain Grand Prix pre-race analysisPosted on Author Keith Collantine

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2013For the second race in a row a Mercedes starts from pole position. But Nico Rosberg knows it will be a tall order to do what Lewis Hamilton failed to in China and convert it into victory.

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso and first among those poised to attack Rosberg once the race begins.

The start

The indication so far this weekend has been that the Mercedes is not as competitive over a race stint than its rivals. It puts more stress on its rear tyres, which are the limiting factor at Bahrain. So it will be a surprise if Rosberg can maintain his advantage beyond the first round of pit stops.

“It will be difficult, especially with the rear tyres, and we know that other teams were stronger than us on the long runs on Friday,” Rosberg admitted. “It will be a big challenge to stay ahead but starting from the front helps.”

He’s also got the fast-starting Fernando Alonso directly behind him on the clean side of the track. Look out for fireworks between him and second-placed Sebastian Vettel at the start.

Strategy

Vettel made a point of not using the hard tyres during qualifying to ensure he has a full complement of fresh rubber for the race. This will give him the confidence to be aggressive with the timing of his pit stops and make early stops to try to undercut his rivals.

But Alonso has demonstrated threatening pace all weekend and Vettel may struggle to contain him.

Felipe Massa has gone down the alternative strategy route and will start the race on the hard tyres. Normally a key disadvantage to this approach is a compromised starting position. But Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton’s penalties have promoted him to fourth alongside his team mate.

Lotus have been expected to have good race pace here, as they did last year, and it seems to be borne out in practice. But neither driver can be satisfied with their qualifying results.

Kimi Raikkonen failed to improve on his Q2 time in Q3 and was punished by the tight margins between the drivers at Bahrain. Had he replicated his Q2 time he’d have qualified sixth instead of ninth – he starts eighth due to Hamilton’s penalty.

The other Lotus of Romain Grosjean lines up 11th after making a mistake in his only run during Q2. Raikkonen started from that position last year and finished second thanks in part to the extra unused tyres he had left.

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’33.364 1’32.867 (-0.497) 1’32.330 (-0.537)
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’33.327 1’32.746 (-0.581) 1’32.584 (-0.162)
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.878 1’33.316 (+0.438) 1’32.667 (-0.649)
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’33.498 1’33.346 (-0.152) 1’32.762 (-0.584)
5 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’33.966 1’33.098 (-0.868) 1’33.078 (-0.020)
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’33.780 1’33.358 (-0.422) 1’33.207 (-0.151)
7 Paul di Resta Force India 1’33.762 1’33.335 (-0.427) 1’33.235 (-0.100)
8 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’34.048 1’33.378 (-0.670) 1’33.246 (-0.132)
9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1’33.827 1’33.146 (-0.681) 1’33.327 (+0.181)
10 Jenson Button McLaren 1’34.071 1’33.702 (-0.369)
11 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’33.498 1’33.762 (+0.264)
12 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’34.310 1’33.914 (-0.396)
13 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1’34.120 1’33.974 (-0.146)
14 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1’34.409 1’33.976 (-0.433)
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1’34.425 1’34.105 (-0.320)
16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’34.314 1’34.284 (-0.030)
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’34.425
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1’34.730
19 Charles Pic Caterham 1’35.283
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1’36.178
21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1’36.304
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1’36.476

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Nico Rosberg 29.416 (1) 39.847 (1) 22.987 (1)
Sebastian Vettel 29.519 (3) 40.004 (2) 23.016 (2)
Fernando Alonso 29.543 (4) 40.058 (3) 23.062 (4)
Lewis Hamilton 29.562 (5) 40.151 (4) 23.049 (3)
Mark Webber 29.669 (9) 40.173 (6) 23.133 (5)
Felipe Massa 29.827 (11) 40.153 (5) 23.227 (8)
Paul di Resta 29.474 (2) 40.366 (9) 23.306 (10)
Adrian Sutil 29.666 (8) 40.317 (8) 23.217 (7)
Kimi Raikkonen 29.629 (6) 40.205 (7) 23.149 (6)
Jenson Button 29.807 (10) 40.453 (10) 23.421 (15)
Romain Grosjean 29.659 (7) 40.520 (11) 23.319 (11)
Sergio Perez 29.895 (14) 40.676 (13) 23.343 (13)
Daniel Ricciardo 29.871 (13) 40.792 (16) 23.251 (9)
Nico Hulkenberg 29.859 (12) 40.744 (15) 23.373 (14)
Valtteri Bottas 29.962 (15) 40.605 (12) 23.434 (16)
Jean-Eric Vergne 30.141 (17) 40.813 (17) 23.329 (12)
Pastor Maldonado 30.204 (18) 40.741 (14) 23.467 (17)
Esteban Gutierrez 30.012 (16) 41.064 (18) 23.553 (18)
Charles Pic 30.454 (19) 41.156 (19) 23.673 (19)
Jules Bianchi 30.530 (20) 41.557 (20) 24.063 (22)
Giedo van der Garde 30.608 (22) 41.902 (22) 23.794 (20)
Max Chilton 30.582 (21) 41.803 (21) 23.994 (21)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Paul di Resta Force India 314.2 (195.2)
2 Adrian Sutil Force India 314.1 (195.2) -0.1
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 313.5 (194.8) -0.7
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 312.7 (194.3) -1.5
5 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 312.2 (194.0) -2.0
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 312.0 (193.9) -2.2
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 311.6 (193.6) -2.6
8 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 310.2 (192.7) -4.0
9 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 309.5 (192.3) -4.7
10 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 309.2 (192.1) -5.0
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams 308.9 (191.9) -5.3
12 Pastor Maldonado Williams 308.8 (191.9) -5.4
13 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 308.6 (191.8) -5.6
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus 308.4 (191.6) -5.8
15 Jenson Button McLaren 306.7 (190.6) -7.5
16 Sergio Perez McLaren 306.3 (190.3) -7.9
17 Max Chilton Marussia 305.9 (190.1) -8.3
18 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 305.8 (190.0) -8.4
19 Mark Webber Red Bull 305.7 (190.0) -8.5
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 305.6 (189.9) -8.6
21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 305.3 (189.7) -8.9
22 Charles Pic Caterham 304.1 (189.0) -10.1

Over to you

Who will win the race to turn one? Will Massa’s alternative strategy work for him?

Share your views on the Bahrain Grand Prix in the comments.

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