Formula One News » F1 2013: ‘Unbeatable’ Rosberg on pole in Bahrain Posted on 20/04/2013
Nico Rosberg delivered in qualifying on Saturday for the Bahrain Grand Prix, the fourth round in the 2013 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, and gave Mercedes its second pole position in as many races.
Rosberg, who had been third quickest in Q1 and second in Q2, opted for two runs in the top-ten shootout and both would have been good enough to ensure him of his second career pole. In the end his best time – a 1 minute 32.330 seconds – was 0.254 seconds up on his closest rival.
“For the first time this season everything went perfectly today and that’s a great feeling,” Rosberg said. “Pole position feels like a kick start for me and it’s a great achievement from everyone in the team. We still had some work to do after the practice sessions yesterday and the team had a busy night to turn it around. Thanks to them for the quickest car out there today.”
“The race tomorrow is a different story,” Rosberg added, “and we’re very aware of that. It will be difficult, especially with the rear tyres, and we know that other teams were stronger than us on the long runs on Friday. It will be a big challenge to stay ahead but starting from the front will really help.”
Championship leader, Sebastian Vettel meanwhile will start alongside Rosberg, and the Red Bull #1 was quick to admit he was well and truly beaten by his fellow countryman.
“Well done to Nico, it was a strong lap and it was all his today. When I crossed the line I saw I was second on the screen and didn’t know how much I was missing to pole as the lap was fine. When I got told the gap to P1, it was clear that even with a perfect lap he was unbeatable today, but nevertheless I’m very happy,” Vettel stated.
“We managed to save some tyres throughout qualifying and it will be about tyre degradation tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens. It’s good to start from the front. I’m not disappointed with that.”
Fernando Alonso was next up in third in his Ferrari on a 1m 32.667s – only 0.083 seconds off Vettel: “It’s really good news that once again we managed to do well in qualifying, which is our Achilles Heel! This is now the third time this year that we end up in the top three and, even if usually Sunday goes better thanks to our race pace, I am really pleased to see our potential already maximized on Saturday,” said the Chinese GP winner.
“The data seen from Friday’s long runs means we can be optimistic about a race in which our main adversaries are represented by Vettel and the Red Bull in front and the Lotuses which might be behind us on the grid, but they will definitely be in the game.”
Behind, Lewis Hamilton was fourth in the second Mercedes, but will drop back to ninth as a result of a five-place penalty for a gearbox change following final practice.
Mark Webber was one spot back on the timesheets, but he also has a penalty – following that incident in China last Sunday with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne – and will slip down to seventh.
Felipe Massa, Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil are the chief beneficiaries of those penalties and all three gain two places. Massa, who qualified on the hard tyre in sixth, will now start fourth next to his Ferrari team-mate, Alonso, while di Resta and Sutil ensure Force India locks-out the third row in fifth and sixth respectively.
“We knew we were in good shape to challenge for Q3 today and we looked strong throughout all the sessions,” said di Resta. “As the tracked gripped up we didn’t quite have the speed we expected, but I’m still pretty happy with what we’ve achieved, especially as I will move up to fifth with the grid penalties.
“We’re in a great position for tomorrow; the car is strong and our long run performance yesterday gives us every reason to be hopeful of challenging for some good points.”
Further back, Lotus man Kimi Raikkonen was unable to reproduce the kind of form he showed in practice and could do no better than ninth. He will gain one spot though at the the expense of Hamilton. Jenson Button completed the top ten in his McLaren, although he opted not to set a time in Q3.
Romain Grosjean was the big scalp in Q2, although the Frenchman could at least console himself with the fact he only missed out by 0.06 seconds: “It’s obviously disappointing to miss out on Q3 but it’s just one of those things. There weren’t any issues with the car, we just tried to be a little too brave by doing just one run and unfortunately it didn’t pay off,” the Lotus driver admitted.
“On the positive side, we’ve found a lot of performance this weekend compared to the first three races and our pace on the prime tyres in Q1 looked very strong. We qualified in similar positions last year and came away with a double podium, so it’s still all to play for.”
Sergio Perez also went out in the second qualifying session and will start in P12 in his McLaren, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg, Williams man Valtteri Bottas and Vergne.
Of the rest, Pastor Maldonado went out in Q1, although remarkably he set exactly the same time as Bottas in the sister car. As he posted it after the Finn though, it was not enough to get him through. Esteban Gutierrez also succumbed in the first session, but the Sauber driver was another with a penalty hanging over his head after he crashed into the back of Sutil in China. He drops to last as a result.
Caterham’s Charles Pic took the ‘new’ team honours, ahead of Jules Bianchi’s Marussia and then their respective team-mates, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton, the latter slowest, but still around 3 seconds within the 107 percent cut-off.