Vettel takes pole position in Bahrain

Sebastian Vettel kicked off his 2010 campaign with a fine pole position for Red Bull Racing, holding off a strong challenge from the Scuderia at the Bahrain International Circuit.

The German needed just one single run at the end of qualifying three to displace the Ferrari of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso at the front of the expanded 24-car field. His time around the extended Bahrain track was one minute, 54.101 seconds, earning his sixth career pole.

As for the seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, making his Grand Prix comeback after three years away from the sport, the Mercedes driver could only manage seventh – one position ahead of the current world champion Jenson Button in the McLaren.

Fernando Alonso had held provisional pole early in Q3, as Ferrari opted to go for two qualifying runs in the final part of the session. But Vettel’s impressive lap time in his ‘Luscious Liz’ was 0.9 seconds quicker than the Spaniard’s initial best, and proved unbeatable as the others recorded their best time.

The Ferrari pair improved on their second attempt with Massa edging out his new team-mate by a margin of 0.366 seconds but it wasn’t enough to displace Vettel in the Red Bull RB6.

As for Lewis Hamilton, his first Q3 lap was a shock. He was nearly two seconds off the pace compared to the Ferraris and yet he was still a second down to Sebastian after improving to take fourth spot. Much focus has been on that controversial and yet clever snorkel/rear wing aero device fitted on the MP4-25, but the raw pace is somewhat lacking when compared to the Red Bull and Ferrari.

Even though all attention is on Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP team-mate Nico Rosberg is setting the better lap times in the other Silver Arrows. In fact, the young German has been consistently out-performing his more experienced colleague in all the sessions leading up to qualifying (as much as 0.5 seconds). The end result means Rosberg in P5 with M. Schumacher in seventh behind Mark Webber’s Red Bull.

What about the current world champion? Well, the new McLaren driver had a scare in Q2 when his first attempt was only the eleventh quickest time (not good enough to make into the top-ten shootout). Jenson improved slightly on his second run and just squeezed in – edging out his old Brawn GP colleague Rubens Barrichello – which eventually became eighth in Q3. Although Rubens will have the last laugh, as the Williams driver will start the Bahrain race with a fresh set of Bridgestone compared to Jenson’s used tyres.

Barrichello takes eleventh, with Force India’s Tonio Liuzzi between the Brazilian and Williams team-mate Nico Hulkenberg – who was the highest qualifying rookie as Renault’s Vitaly Petrov took P17 behind the Saubers (Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi) and Sebastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso.

As for the new teams, it was unlikely to see Lotus, Virgin Racing and Hispania making pass Q1 due to a lack of preparation.

In the defence of Virgin Racing, Timo Glock did a solid job in taking P19, just one place behind the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari. The Lotus of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen took P20 and P21 respectively with newcomer Lucas di Grassi in P22 for Virgin.

As for the HRT team, Indian driver Karun Chandhon treated the qualifying session as a shakedown test due to hydraulic problems with the new car. With limited mileage, it was not a surprise to see Chandhon running ten seconds off the pace but at least he completed seven laps and was within 1.7 seconds to team-mate Bruno Senna, who had the extra time to drive the car during Friday’s practice sessions. The race will be a different matter as reliability will be a key issue.

Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix is going to be fascinating. Can Vettel translate this pole position into race victory? The race pace seems good though there might be an issue with tyre wear. As for the Ferraris, their performance has been excellent, lapping consistently and the F10 is handling well. Will we see Massa taking the chequered flag or a dream victory for Alonso? What about the Mercedes-powered cars? Can Rosberg and Hamilton spring a surprise? All this plus no refuelling will make the opening race of the 2010 Formula One season that bit more special.

Qualifying results, Bahrain:

1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1:54.101
2.  Massa          Ferrari                1:54.242
3.  Alonso         Ferrari                1:54.608
4.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:55.217
5.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1:55.241
6.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1:55.284
7.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1:55.524
8.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:55.672
9.  Kubica         Renault                1:55.885
10.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:56.309
11.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:55.330
12.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes   1:55.653
13.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth      1:55.857
14.  de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari         1:56.237
15.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:56.265
16.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1:56.270
17.  Petrov         Renault                1:56.619
18.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:57.071
19.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1:59.728
20.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth         1:59.852
21.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth         2:00.313
22.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth        2:00.587
23.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth           2:03.240
24.  Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth           2:04.904

6 thoughts to “Vettel takes pole position in Bahrain”

  1. The top three drivers views on the qualifying. Taken from

    Sebastian Vettel admitted that he was surprised to be on pole position for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix but said that he was delighted to have the pace of his new Red Bull RB6 proven in the first qualifying session of the year.

    The 2010 world championship runner-up just edged Ferrari rivals Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso to pole, by 0.141s and said afterwards that he was delighted with the performance.

    “A big surprise!” said Vettel. “In winter testing no one really knew where he was. It was clear there were four teams were pretty strong, but close to each other.

    “To be honest yesterday was a tough day for us, we had not as much running as we hoped for. Another long night, especially mechanics with not much sleep and a lot of long faces, but they were keen this morning to keep pushing.

    “I knew we had a great car, but obviously first of all we had to get it together.

    “Qualifying went pretty smoothly,” he added. “I am very, very happy to be on pole, the boys didn’t get much sleep in the last month, a lot of testing in a short amount of time and to come here, where everybody shows how strong they are, and come out on top is a nice feeling.”

    Vettel added that qualifying was not necessarily a marker for race performance and revealed that he remained uncertain who would have the strongest car in the grand prix.

    “I think we all don’t know what is going to be happen tomorrow yet, it could be very exciting, it could be very boring,” he said. “That is what I hope for! We want a calm race, all of us here would like to be where we start, it is a difficult situation to be in.

    “The first part of the race will be crucial but there is no secret that you need to take care of tyres. All of us don’t know what to expect tomorrow.”

    Felipe Massa was delighted with his performance on his return to competitive action after qualifying in second place for the Bahrain grand Prix.

    The Ferrari driver had not taken part in any official sessions since his crash at last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, where he was sidelined for the rest of the year.

    But Massa showed on Saturday he had not lost any of his competitive edge, finishing only behind Sebastian Vettel and ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso.

    “First of all, congratulations to Sebastian who did a great job for first race of the season,” said Massa. “It is nice to be back racing and competitive in the right direction. I feel happy to be back after such a difficult time.

    “I was watching races on TV but it’s more exciting to be in the car. I am in a good direction, testing, driving go-karts, so it’s great to be back for racing.

    “If you look what happened to us, it is a good start for us. I feel very positive to start in second and third, it feels great. For sure Red Bull and some teams are strong, so the race will be difficult but I am happy here to be fighting for top.”

    The Brazilian, who finished just over a tenth behind Vettel, said he was confident his car will also be strong in the race tomorrow.

    “I think we did a good job yesterday to prepare for a long distance,” he added. “We used both tyres and swapped tyres on the long runs. I think we are in the right direction so let’s see how we are going to be in the race tomorrow.

    “There are many things that will happen in the race, let’s wait and see but I am really optimistic.”

    Fernando Alonso was happy to confirm Ferrari has a very competitive car after qualifying in third position for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

    Alonso, in his first race with Ferrari, was quickest in the first qualifying segment but then had to settle for a place outside the front row, behind Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Felipe Massa.

    The two-time champion was still delighted with Ferrari’s form.

    “I am very happy obviously,” said Alonso. “At is the first race, there are many things to answer in the first race with a long winter with a big difference in fuel loads, in all the tests and yesterday in practice, you never know what the competitors are running.

    “We were excited about the first qualifying of the season, so now to have both drivers in the top three means we have a very competitive car. We thought so, but you need to confirm and it has been great, a great day and I think it is some kind of nice feeling to realise that we are in the fight because you never know until qualifying.”

    The Spaniard is now looking forward to score solid points in the race.

    “You never now how you will start the new championship with a big change in the regulations this, and for me also changing teams,” he added. “For me everything has been great and it is a very good start. Now we were in equal conditions, qualifying with no fuel showed the potential of the cars, so it showed we have a good car.

    “It is very important to start scoring points from the first race.”

    Alonso said Ferrari was not planning a fixed strategy for Sunday, as he feels being flexible will be key to winning races this year.

    He added: “I don’t know what the strategy will be, you need to be flexible, clever enough to understand the race, understand the situation, make pitstops wherever is necessary. This will not be determined or planned, we will be very flexible.”

  2. The McLaren drivers verdict after the qualifying session at the Sakhir International Circuit. Courtesy from

    Lewis Hamilton declared himself ‘overwhelmed’ with fourth position on the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix after admitting that McLaren does not have the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari.

    The 2008 world champion could only manage a lap 1.1s slower than Sebastian Vettel’s Q3 pole time, and admitted that the MP4-25 lacks downforce in comparison to its rivals.

    “I was actually surprised with that result,” Hamilton told the BBC. “We generally don’t have the same pace as the Red Bulls and the Ferraris so I was really surprised when I came through.

    “I saw that I was P4 but I didn’t know that there was loads of people behind me. I am absolutely overwhelmed with that position, I think that’s great for us, a great starting point and I hope tomorrow we can just either keep that position or take one more tomorrow.”

    Hamilton added that he was pleased to be in a position to score points and to have a more competitive car than he had for the beginning of the 2009 season.

    Despite this he said that the team needed to improve the car in the coming weeks to catch its rivals: “I think it is downforce. We are generally quite weak in the middle sector [at Bahrain], I think we lose almost a second there.

    “We have got a lot of downforce to find, but I know the guys back at the factory are pushing very hard, and this is much better position to start from than we did last year so I can only be grateful and just keep working with the guys to push us forward.”

    Jenson Button admitted he was surprised to be lining up eighth on the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix after revealing that his car ‘felt wrong’ during Q3.

    The world champion just scraped through Q2 into the top ten shoot-out, but then posted a time of 1m55.672s – 1.5s off pole and 0.4s slower than McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton – on his final run.

    “It was getting better every run I did and I was getting more comfortable with the car,” Button told the BBC. “I really struggled with the fronts locking this afternoon – very different to this morning.

    “Through quali it was getting better and better and then in the last run something was a bit wrong. Something felt wrong, so we are going to have a look at the car now and see what that is. I’m surprised I was eighth actually because it was struggling around the last lap.”

    Button also added that he was surprised by the sheer pace of the Vettel’s Red Bull and the Ferraris that occupy the three spots in front of Hamilton on the grid.

    “Lewis is up in fourth which is not such a bad position, but when you look at the difference in lap time to P1 it’s massive – over one second – so it’s a big surprise.

    “I think Red Bull are very, very fast and even the Ferraris couldn’t stay with them in qualifying.

    “My first run in Q2, I was in traffic and the second one was a bit better so. It was getting better and better every lap so I was reasonably happy but yeah, at the end it wasn’t so good and something just feels a little bit wrong so we need to look at that.”

  3. And what about the famous Senna name making a re-appearance in Formula One since the late, great Ayrton Senna? Read on for Bruno’s first impression and why finishing the race will feel like a ‘podium’. Article taken from

    Bruno Senna says finishing Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix will feel like a podium after qualifying 23rd for his Formula 1 debut with the Hispania Racing Team.

    The Brazilian, like his team-mate Karun Chandhok, had no opportunity to test prior to this weekend, and Senna admitted that getting to Bahrain and competing through the weekend was a major achievement in itself.

    “Obviously you can’t expect much performance from us,” the former GP2 Series race-winner told the BBC. “We had a car that went through some big changes in terms of balance. The car was very hard to drive in qualifying.

    “But at the end of the day we managed to do all practice sessions and that is a big victory for us. It will be like being on the podium if we can manage to finis the race tomorrow with both cars in one piece.”

    Chandhok, who failed to get any practice time at all prior to qualifying thanks to a multitude of ‘new car’ dramas, was delighted to have just got some track time having completed seven laps in Q1.

    “We got out and it was a massive panic,” said the Indian, who will start from the back of the grid. “To be honest I don’t even know what lap time I have done. It was just installation laps.

    “The team was on the radio asking if things were okay, checking if all the gears went up and down. So I think the lap time was respectable, but there are so many things we can improve in the car.

    “I am not even comfortable in the seat, my bum is off the bottom of the car so that’s the first thing I need to adjust. But these were all things we should have done in Silverstone two months ago.”

  4. As for the new teams making the Formula One grid this season, Virgin Racing posted the best qualifying performance thanks to Timo Glock. Read about the German’s view in full below. Taken from

    Timo Glock was elated with the performance of his Virgin Racing team after the German qualified as the best of the newcomers.

    “It’s great to be the best of the new teams here today and I’m very happy with what we have achieved,” said Glock after qualifying in 19th position ahead of the two Lotus drivers.

    “This is a team result and a credit to everyone who has worked so hard in really difficult circumstances to get the best out of our first race package.

    “To also be just 2.7 seconds away from teams with many more years of experience is even better. We have a big mountain to climb but we go into our debut race having achieved our first target and I think this will give us the momentum we need to keep on pushing.

    “It just goes to show we are going in the right direction and all we have to do is focus on overcoming the hurdles we were bound to come across along the way.”

    Team-mate Lucas di Grassi qualified in 22nd, ahead of the HRT drivers, but nearly a second behind Glock.

    The Brazilian, whose weekend has been blighted by problems, was still happy to have managed to take part in his first F1 qualifying.

    “First of all I’d like to say a big thanks to the team,” said di Grassi. “They have put in so much effort to make this team and today happen for us. For us to be here with a healthy car is fantastic.

    “For me it was still the very beginning, I only did three laps in the session this morning due to the issues we had. I’m quite happy to have done my first qualifying in F1. I know there are a lot of opportunities for us and plenty of scope for improvement.”

  5. Mercedes GP drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher will start the Bahrain Grand Prix from fifth and seventh respectively. For Nico, he has consistently out-performed his experienced team-mate all weekend. As for Michael, he really needs to step up his game if the German wants to compete with the young charges. Read the Autosport stories below:

    Nico Rosberg admitted that he came away from Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying disappointed not to have taken pole position after showing strong pace throughout free practice.

    The German Mercedes driver was fastest of all in Friday and in the mix during qualifying simulation runs on Saturday morning.

    But Rosberg revealed that in Q3 he did not have the pace to match Sebastian Vettel’s pole-winning Red Bull and the Ferraris after lining up fifth on the grid.

    “I am disappointed for two reasons,” Rosberg told the BBC. “I was actually hoping for pole position to be honest, I was convinced that I could do it today. But we were missing a little bit of pace to do that. And then I should have been fourth I think. But it was so difficult out there with the tyres over-heating.

    “If you one oversteer you overheated the tyres and then the next couple of corners were just game over. It was really challenging.

    “I think tyres are going to be one of the main factors tomorrow. That’s why we all went on the option also, because it is just a better race tyre for the start and for the first couple of laps.”

    Rosberg still managed to outpace his seven-time world champion team-mate Michael Schumacher who admitted that he still had some work to do to recover his low-fuel lap pace.

    “It’s certainly a little bit different for me,” he said of the multi-session qualifying format that wasn’t in place when he last raced in F1. “I feel that the time I had available in order to get on to the little peak of what our car could be doing, I have not yet got that one. As you see Nico is a bit quicker than me.

    “But I am quite happy, we have steadily improved and we have worked quite well as a team which is what counts at the moment a lot more. It is a long race. We will see and the year is even longer.”

    Michael Schumacher says he still needs time before he finds his rhythm after qualifying in a discreet seventh position ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    The German, in his first qualifying session since he retired from the sport in 2006, finished two places behind Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and nearly 1.5 seconds off the pole position time.

    Schumacher admitted he is still not fully up to the pace.

    “There are several reasons to it, but one is pretty certainly that I have to get back into it,” Schumacher told reporters after qualifying.

    “I just need to get the rhythm, although slowly and progressively it has improved, but it’s challenging and that’s a good thing.

    “It’s just having the rhythm and having this fine-tuning and getting the car to your liking. Just make perfect use of what you have available.”

    He added: “I mentioned in my first test I feel like I just started in Formula 1. In Valencia during the first lap I was a bit shocked, but then I was straight back into it and felt very comfortable and it was exactly as it was in 1991 in a way.

    “And as well as in ’91, in my first qualifying I finished seventh, so here we are.”

    The seven-time champion said he had no special emotions ahead of his return to grand prix racing.

    “I’m still very focused without much of emotion, just paying attention to details. It might be different at night, but we’ll find out,” he said.

    Schumacher said he is aiming to score good points in tomorrow’s race, and admitted it will be hard to finish on the podium.

    “It’s not unrealistic, but it’s going to be tough.”

    And he believes the start of the race will be intense now that the cars are heavier because of the refuelling ban.

    “I think it’s going to be an interesting first corner. Because with these heavy cars, to sort of not have that much experience with them, it’s going to be interesting. I look forward to it.”

  6. Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix is going to be really interesting as for the first time after 16 years of refuelling pit-stops, the drivers must carry a heavy fuel load throughout the race and manage the tyres. Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner has even commented to that is will be a ‘fascinating journey into the unknown’. See the full news article below:

    Christian Horner, boss of the pole-winning Red Bull team, believes today’s Formula 1 season opener in Bahrain will be a ‘fascinating journey into the unknown’ – with no one in the pitlane really sure how the new rules will affect the race.

    After 16 seasons of mid-race refuelling, from today drivers will carry full fuel loads from the start, putting the strategic emphasis on the timing of tyre changes, which will be particularly critical at Sakhir as many have struggled with high tyre wear in practice.

    Sebastian Vettel put Red Bull on pole in yesterday’s qualifying session, but Horner said despite his team’s speed it is impossible to say how the race might unfold.

    “I think it is a little bit of a journey into the unknown,” he said. “For sure the best place to be starting is from the front, but strategies will be quite interesting as will the way the tyres behave with full tanks. It is going to be very interesting – so a fascinating race.

    “You don’t know what everybody else is going to do. At least when you had fuel, you knew people had to stop and by this time you already knew what their fuel weights were, and within a lap what lap they are going to stop on. Now, they can stop at any time during the race.”

    Horner reckons that Force India’s Adrian Sutil could gain a temporary advantage today as the only man who used the harder tyres in Q3 – and therefore the only driver in the top ten allowed to start the race on the more durable.

    “Theoretically Adrian Sutil should lead the race if he stays within 25 seconds of the leader,” said Horner.

    “Whether that is the best strategy overall we will see – but theoretically he should lead the race by going further on the prime. Where he drops out after his pitstop is impossible to predict. No one has a crystal ball.”

    He also denied suggestions that 2010 races will simply come down to whoever pits for fresh tyres first coming out on top.

    “There is no point in effectively under-cutting a driver but then running out of tyres at the end of the race,” Horner said.

    “You are just as susceptible to be overtaken at that point of the race – so you have just got to look after the tyres very carefully. And you rely very heavily on the drivers’ input into that.”

    Horner is confident that Red Bull will be able to manage its tyres successfully in the grand prix.

    “We have been doing a lot of work with set-up over the winter as well, and we feel we had a good run yesterday with the tyre and don’t believe our degradation is any higher than any other team,” he said.

    “For sure Ferrari look quite soft on their tyres, but they historically have done.”

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