- Bahrain Grand Prix - Qualifying
Rosberg makes it back-to-back poles for MercedesChris Medland April 20, 2013
Nico Rosberg secured pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix as Mercedes made it back-to-back poles.
While the fight appeared to be between Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, Rosberg's first flying lap in Q3 was enough to secure him pole although he then subsequently lowered it to a 1:32.330. Vettel was second, less than 0.1s ahead of Alonso as the latter aborted his final lap.
Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest but a gearbox change after a tyre delamination in FP3 means he receives a five-place grid penalty and will start in ninth place. Mark Webber was fifth but similarly has a grid penalty which drops him back to seventh. As a result, Felipe Massa moves up to fourth and set his best time on the hard tyre.
The Force India's of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil were seventh and eighth quickest ahead of the disappointing Raikkonen and Jenson Button - who didn't set a time in the McLaren.
Romain Grosjean had one run to make it in to Q3 but was ironically knocked out in 11th place by a late lap from his team-mate Raikkonen. Button also got a late lap in to get through as Sergio Perez locked up at Turn 8 and dropped out in 12th ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Jean-Eric Vergne.
In Q1 the Red Bull pair opted to go straight out on the medium tyre as did the McLarens, but Alonso was comfortably quickest by almost half a second. Pastor Maldonado made an error on his lap to drop out in 17th; he actually set the exact same time as team-mate Valtteri Bottas but Bottas went through to Q2 by virtue of having set his time first.
Esteban Gutierrez's struggles continued as he dropped out in 18th place, but will start last with a five-place grid penalty hanging over him. Also dropping out were the usual suspects, with Caterham showing improved pace as Charles Pic beat Jules Bianchi and Giedo van der Garde beat Max Chilton.
Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1