Vettel takes his first pole position of 2012 in Bahrain

By on Saturday, April 21, 2012

© Red Bull/GEPA

Red Bull have returned to their well known glory with pole position for tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix, as Sebastian Vettel took his 31st pole and his first in 2012. Mark Webber will start the race from 3rd, as Lewis Hamilton split the two Red Bulls. Nico Rosberg only managed 5th fastest, with Schumacher floundering down in 18th.

As the first part of qualifying got underway, Force India were the first cars to take to the track, as Paul di Resta set a 01:43.620, with his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg not far behind the Scot setting a much quicker 01:35.970. With Ferrari once again suffering greatly through practice, many were surprised when Fernando Alonso emerged from the pits on the softer Pirelli tyres.

Mark Webber became the first of the front runners to set a timed lap, with a 01:35.283, which was beaten shortly after by 2009 World Champion Jenson Button with a 01:34.792. Fernando Alonso went quickest as the session wore on, taking full advantage of running on the softer Pirelli tyres.

As the session came to a close, many drivers further down the order opted for the soft Pirelli tyres, as Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez flew to the top of the timing sheets. The likes of Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher looked in danger of getting eliminated early on, after deciding against running on the soft tyres. As the checkered flag fell, Heikki Kovalainen shocked the grid by leaping out of the drop zone and eliminating 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher. It later emerged that Schumacher was suffering from a rear-wing issue, and therefore was unable to return to the track.

Once again, the Force Indi’s were the first cars out on track as Q2 got underway. Jean-Eric Vergne was in the naughty books of the FIA, after ignoring a red light that indicated the Frenchman must pull over into the weigh-bridge after Q1. This could result in a severe penalty for the rookie.

As Q2 wore on, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton went fastest, with the latter setting a 01:33.209. Pastor Maldonado, who’ll suffer a 5-place grid drop after qualifying, failed to set a time in Q2 with a KERs issue apparently plaguing the Venezuelan driver.

Romain Grosjean sprung a surprise as Q2 ended, flying into the top ten shootout and thus eliminating his team-mate in former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn will start tomorrow's race from 11th position, alongside the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi. Heiki Kovalainen showed improved pace throughout qualifying, and will start ahead of the likes of Schumacher, Vergne and Maldonado in the race.

With several big names dropping out in Q1 and Q2, including the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher, the final and most important part of qualifying was eagerly anticipated. All eyes were fixed on the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, who had shown decent pace throughout practice after a dominating victory in China last weekend.

Mark Webber was the first Red Bull out on track as the qualifying shootout got underway, and was followed by the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Webber set the initial pace, but was quickly beaten by Lewis Hamilton, who set a 01:32.671. Jenson Button managed 2nd and Sebastian Vettel only 4th as the pack returned to the pits in preparation of their second and final runs of qualifying.

Nico Rosberg only settled for one run in qualifying, and was disappointingly off pace down in 5th place with a 01:32.821. As the drivers came over the line, with the checkered flag fluttering, the Red Bulls surprised the pack as Mark Webber went fastest before reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel flew to the top with a stunning 01:32.422. Lewis Hamilton was the only true danger to the Red Bull’s resurgence, and only managed 2nd, splitting the Milton Keynes based cars.

With three drivers who have yet to win a race in 2012 qualifying within the top three, it looks as though the trend of a different winner at each race so far this season is set to continue.

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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