Vettel Returns To Pole For Bahrain GP

Something which was never said in 2011 was that Sebastian Vettel qualifying on pole was a surprise, but that appeared the case for the Bahrain GP. The young man had not been at his best for parts of the season so far, but produced a lap which his competitors could not match. It is his 31st career pole, which puts him in sixth place on the list of most pole positions. Another three poles will see him rise to third position, with only Senna and Schumacher in front.

Vettel was pleased to be back at the front of the grid which he ruled so supremely last season, and said it was thanks to his Red Bull team’s work that they topped the times:

Obviously it feels great and this one I will give to the team and the guys,” said Vettel.

“It wasn’t an easy start to the season for us – surely a lot of expectations but more than anything it was what we expect from ourselves. It did not match our expectation.

“We worked hard on the car, trimming here and there to find the right way forward. The boys did not have much sleep the last few races – a tough race in China and here a serious lack of sleep, so I’m happy to be on pole.

“Both of us owe the result to the team. The car felt better all weekend. I did not have the best early part of qualifying in Q1 and Q2, but knew when I got lap in we could nail it – so I am very happy.”

Hamilton has been consistently strong in qualifying

Looking like it was to be an all-Red Bull front row, the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton knocked Mark Webber down to third in the session’s final moments. Hamilton missed out on pole by less than a tenth of a second, but was still satisfied with his and the team’s efforts:

“I am happy with the performance of the car and performance of the team and I am happy with the laps we are doing, eking out everything I can from the car,” Hamilton said.

“Today I was not able to get pole but being on front row is a great feeling – at the last race we were not able to start on the front row. It will be a tough race. We will do everything we can to be right up there.”

Webber didn't expect Red Bull to be strong

Mark Webber expressed surprise at Red Bull’s apparent show of pace at the sandy track where not many predicted they would be strong:

“I’m pretty surprised to be as competitive as we are at a track that is demanding at what are not our strengths, but it is good for the guys,” Webber said.

“It is pretty tough on the tyres here, there were a few surprises yesterday, so let’s see how it unfolds tomorrow. I have been quite all weekend and feel confident for tomorrow.”

Rosberg and Mercedes did not meet everyone's expectations

Mercedes were among the favourites for a strong qualifying, but winner of the last race Nico Rosberg, could only manage fourth as he chose to concentrate on race pace:

“Of course it’s very nice to be disappointed about fifth place – that shows how far we’ve come,” said Rosberg after qualifying.

“In general we’ve been working towards the race, we just compromised qualifying a little bit to make it possible to do a good race tomorrow.”

His team-mate Michael Schumacher suffered an early exit as the DRS system, which has proved such a powerful tool for Mercedes, failed to activate which cost him valuable time, leaving him down in eighteenth place:

“There was no need to go out again until it was fixed and then the time ran out,” he said.

Ricciardo is tipped as a man with plenty of potential

One of the stars of the session was undoubtedly Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian putting his car into a surprise sixth place on the grid.

“Tonight we will be looking at all our strategy options regarding tyres. I have to focus on scoring as many points as possible. I hope I am still smiling tomorrow evening.”

Bahrain GP Grid

Pos Driver Team Time 
 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1m32.422s  
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1m32.520s  +  0.098
 3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1m32.637s  +  0.215
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1m32.711s  +  0.289
 5.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1m32.821s  +  0.399
 6.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m32.912s  +  0.490
 7.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1m33.008s  +  0.586
 8.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1m33.394s  +  0.972
 9.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                No time
10.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   No time
11.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault          1m33.789s  +  1.367
12.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1m33.806s  +  1.384
13.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1m33.807s  +  1.385
14.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1m33.912s  +  1.490
15.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault       1m34.017s  +  1.595
16.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault       1m36.132s  +  3.710
17.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1m34.865s  +  2.443
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m35.014s  +  2.592
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault       1m35.823s  +  3.401
20.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth      1m37.683s  +  5.261
21.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth           1m37.883s  +  5.461
22.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault       No time
23.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth      1m37.905s  +  5.483
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1m38.314s  +  5.892
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