In the first full dry qualifying of the year it was Nico Rosberg who took pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Rosberg is the first driver other than team-mate Lewis Hamilton to top a qualifying session in 2014. Although Hamilton will be starting on the front row with Nico to complete a Mercedes front row lock out.
Throughout the three practice sessions it was always a Mercedes setting the pace and was very much predictable that one of their drivers would secure pole position, providing there were no unforeseen circumstances.
In Q1 it was Nico Hulkenberg setting the early pace with a 1:36:883. Over at Red Bull their cars were both hitting 8th gear due to the team running shorter gear ratios for the race in a bid to find some extra speed.
Once all teams had set their initial Q1 times on the medium tyres it was the Mercedes sitting at the top of the time sheets and chose not to run the soft tyres in Q1. Elsewhere it was Grosjean who set the 1st timed lap on the soft tyres but his time was not good enough to beat Hulkenberg, Alonso and Ricciardo.
Over at Williams, they chose to leave it late before coming onto track in Q1 after little running all weekend. But this did not stop Bottas who, on first timed lap with the soft tyres, went 0.3 seconds clear of Hamilton to go top of the time sheets for the time being. As time ticked on, and just 2 minuets remaining, Hulkenberg, Massa and Perez all topped the Mercedes by using their soft tyres. For Vergne, he had a sparky moment in the final sector due to a lot of contact between the floor of his Toro Rosso and the track.
Come the final moments of Q1, all but the Mercedes came out to try to improve on their earlier times and for Grosjean it paid off as he was able to force team-mate Maldonado into the bottom 6 by just 0.009 of a second. This was fortunate for Grosjean as he and Sutil had a close moment in final sector as the chequered flag approached. This incident will be investigated by FIA as Grosjean was on his hot lap when Sutil was cruising. As Grosjean started going around Sutil on the run down to the final corner, Grosjean was forced onto edge of track by Sutil.
Q1 result: HUL, BOT, PER, MAS, RAI, ALO, MAG, HAM, KVY, ROS, VET, BUT, VER, RIC, GUT, GRO
[OUT: MALDONADO, SUTIL, KOBAYASHI, BIANCHI, ERICSSON, CHILTON]
Now into Q2, the cars trickled out of the pits, straight out on the soft compound tyres. After the first few lap times were put on the board it was Räikkönen who went quickest, 0.7s clear of Hulkenberg. But this order did not stay for long as the Mercedes continued to set the pace. Leaving a 0.7 second gap between 2nd place and 3rd. With 5 minuets remaining, all cars bar Button (who was on his way back) sat in pits before Vettel headed out for his timed run with an open track, followed by Bottas. When Sebastien set his first timed lap it was only good enough to be 8th fastest, 1.2seconds behind Rosberg. Even worse for Vettel he was instantly pushed down to 10th place by the Williams’ of Bottas and Massa. Now bordering on the drop zone and no laps remaining it was a waiting game for the German as he could do no more to secure a Q3 spot, which was eventually snapped away from him by the Force India of Perez. After his free practice 3 and Q1 pace, the Force India I would have expected to make Q3 the most would have been the Force India of Hulkenberg but that was not the case as he was also knocked out in Q2.
Q1 result: ROS, HAM, RIC, BUT, ALO, PER, BOT, MAS, MAG, RAI
[OUT: VET, HUL, KVY, VER, GUT, GRO]
Moving on to the top 10 shoot out in Q3 Bottas set the early top time in his Williams, but it was only a matter of time before a Mercedes put itself miles clear at the front. This time, with his first timed lap, Rosberg went 1.062 seconds clear of the time set by Bottas.
Early, fast times were not to be seen from everyone in this session as terrible first timed laps for Magnussen, whose time left him 2.1 seconds behind, and Alonso, whose time left him 2.5 seconds behind Rosberg.
Hoping to close up to his team-mate for his third consecutive pole position, Hamilton was only able to go 2nd. With a time only good enough to be 0.27seconds behind his team-mate, Nico Rosberg. In the early stages it was Räikkönen as the only driver not to set a lap time but his first time was able to put him 5th place.
In his second bid for pole, Hamilton locked up his front tyre. Meaning he could not improve and take pole away from the German across the garage. When Rosberg became aware of this information he opted not to push anymore. Which was no threat to his pole as Bottas was unable to improve on his earlier time and Ricciardo was only able to get 3rd place
Q3 result: ROS, HAM, RIC, BOT, PER RAI, BUT, MAS, MAG, ALO
Despite getting third place in qualifying, Ricciardo will start behind team-mate, Vettel, due to his 10 place grid penalty. Which was awarded to him back in the Malaysian Grand Prix. As for Jenson Button, he will be starting his 250th grand prix from 6th place. Meaning this will be your 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix grid:
- Nico Rosberg
- Lewis Hamilton
- Valtteri Bottas
- Sergio Perez
- Kimi Räikkönen
- Jenson Button
- Felipe Massa
- Kevin Magnussen
- Fernando Alonso
- Sebastian Vettel
- Nico Hulkenberg
- Daniil Kvyat
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Jean-Eric Vergne
- Esteban Gutierrez
- Romain Grosjean
- Pastor Maldonado
- Adrian Sutil
- Kamui Kobayashi
- Jules Bianchi
- Marcus Ericsson
- Max Chilton
Now you know the grid, vote here for your favourite to take the win in the Bahrain Grand Prix.