Sebastian Vettel returned to his 2011 default in qualifying for tomorrow’s (contentious) Bahrain Grand Prix by snatching a late pole position at the Sakhir circuit.
Michael Schumacher was a shock casualty of Q1 as the Mercedes man elected not to use a set of soft tyres and found himself trumped by a stellar lap from Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen. The seven-time champion will line-up 17th, ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne – who dropped out in Q1 for a third successive race – and the usual grid-proppers: Vitaly Petrov, Charles Pic, Pedro de la Rosa, Timo Glock, and Narain Karthikeyan.
Kimi Raikkonen was the big name exit from Q2, the Finn ending the session 11th fastest as the likes of Paul di Resta, Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez produced strong performances to reach the top-ten shootout. The 2007 champ was joined by Kamui Kobayashi, Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna, Heikki Kovalainen and Pastor Maldonado in exiting proceedings.
Q3 saw Lewis Hamilton go fastest first as the McLarens and Red Bulls took their opening runs while pre-session favourite Nico Rosberg remained in the pits waiting to make his single punt at pole. However the German’s lap was nowhere near top-draw leaving him P5.
In fact it was the Red Bulls who had the pace. It was 2011 all over again as Sebastian Vettel nailed a blistering late lap to snatch pole ahead of Hamilton and team-mate Mark Webber. Jenson Button was fourth ahead of the somewhat muted Rosberg.
Ricciardo starts a stellar sixth ahead of Romain Grosjean, Perez, Fernando Alonso and di Resta.
The Provisional Grid for Sunday
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing - Renault|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren - Mercedes|
|3||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing - Renault|
|4||Jenson Button||McLaren - Mercedes|
|5||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso - Ferrari|
|7||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 - Renault|
|8||Sergio Perez||Sauber - Ferrari|
|10||Paul Di-Resta||Sahara Force India - Mercedes|
|11||Kimi Raikkonen||Lotus F1 - Renault|
|12||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber - Ferrari|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Sahara Force India - Mercedes|
|15||Bruno Senna||Williams F1 - Renault|
|16||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham - Renault|
|17||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG|
|18||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso - Ferrari|
|19||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham - Renault|
|20||Charles Pic||Marussia - Cosworth|
|21||Pedro de-la-Rosa||Hispania - Cosworth|
|22||Pastor Maldonado||Williams F1 - Renault|
|23||Timo Glock||Marussia - Cosworth|
|24||Narain Karthikeyan||Hispania - Cosworth|