Bahrain Grand Prix 2013: Nico Rosberg grabs second career pole
Bahrain Grand Prix 2013: Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg claims team's second straight pole ahead of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel
It was a tale of two drivers for Mercedes in Bahrain as Nico Rosberg took only the second pole of his career, while Lewis Hamilton suffered mechanical problems.
The German was impressive throughout qualifying set an unbeatable Q3 time of 1:32.330, yet Hamilton will start in ninth after changing his gearbox due to a tyre fault in practice.
Rosberg finished ahead of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
“I really want to kickstart my season,” said Rosberg. “It has been a rough ride in the first three races.”
The day started slowly as the big contenders stayed inside for the opening nine minutes in Q1, leaving the two Saubers – out almost immediately – to post times on the empty Sakhir racetrack.
Merecedes’ Rosberg set the early pace with 1:33.364 despite complaining about a foreign object in his car but was soon pipped by Alonso, who managed 1:32.878.
Yet the story of Q1 was the continued absence of the Red Bulls and Hamilton, while Mark Webber only set a lap-time with four minutes remaining – Vettel two minutes later.
However, the triple world champion posted a competitive time of 1:33.327 to move up to second in Q1 – Webber took ninth.
And Hamilton left it even later, posting a time of 1.33.498 with only a minute remaining to book his place in Q2.
In Q2, Force India’s Paul Di Resta took a surprise lead with a time of 1:33.335, over a tenth of a second faster than nearest competitor and eventual leader Vettel.
But Q2’s drama was far from over as Rosberg sprang an impressive 1:32.867and Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen saved themselves from elimination at the death.
Rosberg set his stall out early in Q3 with a leading time of 1:32.543, but with two minutes left all ten cars made it to the track for a grandstand conclusion.
The remaining drivers – including both Force Indias – found it hard to reach Rosberg’s marker, with Vettel unable to match his compatriot and finishing second.
Alonso took third spot and Hamilton will look back on a day well-salvaged having placed fourth – docked down to ninth after his gearbox change.
Bahrain Grand Prix 2013: Qualifying times
1. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 32.330s
2. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 33.584s
3. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 32.667s
4. Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 32.762s*
5. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 33.078s*
6. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 33.207s
7. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes 1m 33.235s
8. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 33.405s
9. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Lotus-Renault 1m 33.246s
10. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes no time Q3
11. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault 1m 33.762s
12. Sergio Perez Mexico McLaren-Mercedes 1m 33.914s
13. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 33.974s
14. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Sauber-Ferrari 1m 33.976s
15. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Renault 1m 34.105s
16. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 34.284s
17. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Renault 1m 34.425s
18. Esteban Gutierrez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari 1m 34.730s*
19. Charles Pic France Caterham-Renault 1m 35.283s
20. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Cosworth 1m 36.178s
22. Giedo van der Garde Holland Caterham-Renault 1m 36.304s
22. Max Chilton Britain Marussia-Cosworth 1m 36.476s