Lewis Hamilton has claimed his fourth pole position in four races after taking the top spot in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
It came down to the wire as the drivers pushed until the flag had fallen for pole position. But when it fell over the track, Lewis Hamilton stole pole from Vettel as the last man to cross the line.
Over the three practice sessions Raikkonen, Rosberg and Hamilton claimed one each. But in FP3, Hamilton only managed to claim the top spot by just seven hundredths of a second to Sebastian Vettel. Ferrari also showed strong race pace during FP2 which could make things close during tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
But since practice came to a close, the temperature dropped along with the sun to leave the track cooler and under floodlights. Then at 6pm in Bahrain, the green light came on and Q1 was underway.
The first driver to venture out onto the circuit and into the wind was Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari. The Finn was soon joined out on track by fellow Finn, Bottas as Kimi set about his banker timed lap.
However Raikkonen ruined his lap at turn one with a big lock up before running wide and missing the apex. In the end, Raikkonen pushed on and completed a 1:36.731 despite heavy vibrations, but his time was 1.6 seconds down on his best in FP3.
Raikkonen’s time was soon pushed down by both Williams drivers and then both Mercedes men, but with over 10 minutes to go there was plenty of time for Kimi to improve.
Jenson Button on the other hand was forced to sit out the final 10 minutes of Q1 after not even setting a time. JB had only just left the pits before pulling to the side of the track and was not able to post a single time before another early retirement for the man who was forced into limited running due to reliability issues in FP1 and FP2. Now Jenson will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the field.
Meanwhile, Alonso in the other McLaren was out on track with the soft tyres and moved up to P9 with his first flying lap. Other cars where now hitting the track with the soft tyres, including the early pace setting Mercedes of Rosberg after Nasr, Perez and Hulkenberg all split the Silver Arrows.
Sebastian Vettel also joined the action for his first qualifying run and instantly took P1 by seven tenths of a second with the option tyres. But the German’s time was not good enough to hold off his flying team mate as Kimi moved ahead by three tenths.
Yet even a 1:34.568 by Kimi found itself in third, six tenths down on the pace setters when Hamilton and Rosberg regained the top slots. As for the bottom slots, Merhi and Stevens sat over 5 seconds down on Hamilton, with Maldonado and Verstappen joining them and Button in the drop zone.
As the chequered flag began to loom, even the Williams duo who have not looked like competing with Ferrari and Mercedes managed to move into the top four with both cars knocking Vettel and Raikkonen down the order.
But when the flag fell, Will Stevens improved to finish 4.7 seconds down on Lewis. As for Maldonado, he edged out of the drop zone after moving up to 15th but Verstappen ensured his Q2 place at the expense of Pastor who suffered an engine issue.
In the end Maldonado was joined out in Q1 by Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, the two Marussia’s of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi along with the McLaren of Jenson Button.
Q1: Hamilton, Bottas, Rosberg, Massa, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Vettel, Grosjean, Alonso, Nasr, Sainz, Ericsson, Perez, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Kvyat, Stevens, Merhi, Button
After a few minutes break the 15 minutes of Q2 was kicked into action, but it was not for a few more minutes before any cars hit the track. One of the early runners, joining the two Force India’s on track, was Nico Rosberg as the German looked to set an early banker lap.
When Nico crossed the line to set his banker lap, he eclipsed both Force India’s by over a second. Over a second also being the distance Hamilton put between himself and Nico when he crossed the line to post a 1:32.669, compared to Rosberg’s 1:33.878.
Felipe Massa once again split the Mercedes cars with a 1:33.551 whilst Bottas tucked in two hundredths down on Rosberg.
Once the early runners returned to their garages, the order sat with Hamilton leading from Massa, Rosberg, Bottas, Grosjean, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Sainz, Hulkenberg and Perez. But as the track fell quiet, Vettel hit the circuit for his first run and managed to post a 1:33.623, only to be eclipsed by Raikkonen by one tenth.
As the chequered flag fell, Hulkenberg, Perez, Alonso Nasr and Ericsson sat in the drop zone but when Nasr set his first time he pushed Sainz down into 11th.
Hulkenberg moved into the top 10 and away from the drop zone momentarily, but the order at the bottom swapped with every second. Perez bounced in and out of the drop zone and looked like he had done enough with his last flyer. But as he sat on the cusp, Sainz snuck ahead to claim 10th.
Resulting in Perez being eliminated from qualifying alongside Nasr, Ericsson, Alonso and Verstappen.
Q2: Hamilton, Raikkonen, Massa, Vettel, Rosberg, Bottas, Grosjean, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Perez, Nasr, Ericsson, Alonso, Verstappen.
Moving on to the top 10 shoot-out, Vettel lead the field out of the pit lane along with team mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Despite Raikkonen coming across the line second, his time was only good enough to slot in one hundredth of a second behind Vettel’s banker 1:34.522.
But the two Ferrari’s were on used tyres so their time was easy for Ricciardo to beat of fresh softs and the Red Bull moved into P1 by seven tenths.
Ricciardo’s time was also four thousandths of a second faster than Rosberg could manage when the German set his first time. But Hamilton was able to eek out the most of his used tyres to take provisional pole by three tenths of a second.
Soon enough the track fell silent once more as the field returned to their garages with the order Hamilton leading from Ricciardo, Rosberg, Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen, Massa, Grosjean. Hulkenberg opted not to run early on in Q3 and instead carry out just the one run late on, whereas Sainz abandoned his early run.
Then with three minutes remaining, the track was once again a wash with rumbling engines as the 10 Formula One cars took to the track.
First to set a time in the final stages of qualifying was the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo. The Aussie improved on his best time but was unable to go ahead of Hamilton and remained second.
Vettel then attacked the line and took P1 by five tenths of a second. But Seb was knocked off P1 by Lewis Hamilton at the death of qualifying to take four pole positions in a row.
Rosberg and Raikkonen both were unable to improve enough to go ahead of Vettel and in the end had to settle for third and fourth.
Bottas finished the session just over a tenth down on Rosberg for fifth place with Massa three tenths down on his team mate. Felipe’s lap was also over one second slower than Lewis Hamilton’s pole time.
Lewis Hamilton’s pole position for the 2015 Bahrain Grand Prix is also his first pole in Bahrain and the first time he has secured four pole positions in a row during his Formula One career.
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