Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying: Mercedes v Ferrari in the desert duel

Lewis Hamilton out on track, Charlie Wright, Kettle Mag
Written by F1_Charlie

Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position after putting in a faultless performance under the lights. Hamilton will share the front row alongside the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel who managed to split the Mercedes pair. Nico Rosberg will start third and shares the second row with the sister Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

Jenson Button will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid, his car having stopped on the run to Turn 4. Button has stopped on track three times this weekend, the cause of the problem has not yet been found, much to the frustration of Ron Dennis in the McLaren garage.

Whilst Mercedes and Ferrari opted to run with the slower prime tyre, Nico Hulkenberg’s time of a 1:35.796s on the options forced Vettel, Rosberg, Raikkonen and Hamilton to follow suit to book their place in Q2. The front runners were told to use the soft tyres in Q1 with caution as they will also have to be used in the race tomorrow.

Raikkonen on the option tyres managed to beat Vettel comfortably, Rosberg’s next lap not good enough to dethrone Raikkonen until Hamilton crossed the line with blistering pace and ended Q1 the fastest.

Pastor Maldonado struggled with an engine problem in Q1, failing to make the cut into Q2 alongside Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and the Marussia’s of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi. 

No driver seemed to be in a rush to get going in Q2, Sergio Perez being the first car to venture out onto the 3.4 mile circuit. Verstappen on his first lap complained of a lack of power as Renault woes continued.

Almost as soon as Rosberg set the time that sent him to the top, his effort was obliterated as team-mate Hamilton laid down the marker to book his place in the top-ten shootout, over one second faster than last year’s Q2 time by a second. Felipe Massa split Hamilton and Rosberg in second place.

Raikkonen once again beat team-mate Vettel. Raikkonen’s Q2 effort was good enough for 2nd place whilst Vettel was 4th. Vettel felt as if his car was not accelerating as fast as it should and called for the team to check the telemetry. Nico Hulkenberg managed to sneak his way into Q3 at the end of the session, his first Q3 appearance since Hungary last year.

In a flurry of late activity Carlos Sainz was the last car over the line and rounded out the top ten, half a second faster than team-mate Verstappen. Joining Verstappen in the drop zone were Fernando Alonso, Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr and Sergio Perez. 

Vettel was the first car out in the final ten minutes with a time of 1:34.522s, team-mate Raikkonen only managing second place after his first run. Ricciardo on new options at the time shot to the top and, whilst Rosberg’s time was narrowly shy of the Red Bull’s 1:33.850s, Hamilton went fastest on used options, and although slower than the time he set in Q2, it was clear that there was more to come after the defending champion’s first effort.

On the final runs in Q3 Ferrari looked to be in with a shout as Vettel and Rakkonen bettered Hamilton’s first effort. Rosberg also beat Hamilton’s initial time, but was still slower than Vettel. In the end it was Hamilton that put in a blistering time to take pole position to take his tally to four this season.

Below are the qualifying results ahead of tomorrow’s race:

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes 1:32.571s
2Sebastian VettelFerrari 1:32.982s
3Nico RosbergMercedes 1:33.129s
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari 1:33.227s
5Valtteri BottasWilliams Mercedes 1:33.381s
6Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes 1:33.744s
7Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Renault 1:33.832s
8Nico HulkenbergForce India Mercedes 1:34.450s
9Carlos SainzSTR Renault 1:34.462s
10Romain GrosjeanLotus Mercedes 1:34.484s
11Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes 1:34.704s
12Felipe NasrSauber Ferrari 1:34.737s
13Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari 1:35.034s
14Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda 1:35.039s
15Max VerstappenSTR Renault 1:35.103s
16Pastor MaldonadoLotus Mercedes 1:35.677s
17Daniil KvyatSTR Renault 1:35.800s
18Will StevensMarussia Ferrari 1:38.713s
19Roberto MerhiMarussia Ferrari 1:39.722s
20Jenson ButtonMcLaren Honda No Time Set