Bahrain GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
When it counted
Lewis Hamilton had been quickest in the three Free Practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix, but when it counted in qualifying his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg grabbed the pole while Hamilton made a driving error on his last lap.
The ambient temperature at the start of the qualifying session was 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 84degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Centigrade.)
Esteban Gutierrez got things rolling in his Sauber, and he set the first benchmark time of 1:38.521. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) soon beat that with a 1:36.883.
7 minutes into the session, Daniel Ricciardo set the new benchmark after turning a 1:36.676 in his Red Bull.
8 minutes into the session, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg went out hunting in their Mercedes and bagged the top spots with times of 1:35.323 and 1:35.439 respectively.
They were on the medium compound tires, but now other drivers were switching over to the softs. Gutierrez, on softs, leaped up to third.
With 6 minutes remaining in the session, the Williams teammates Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa had yet to go out. Then with 5 minutes remaining in the session, they headed out on the soft tires.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, Bottas grabbed P1 with a 1:34.394, but Hulkenberg beat that with a 1:34.934. Only Hamilton and Rosberg, safe in fifth and sixth, were not on the track.
The top six at the end of Q1 were: Hulkenberg, Bottas, Sergio Perez (Sauber), Massa and Ferrari teammates Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Pastor Maldonado (Lotus), Adrian Sutil (Sauber), Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham), Jules Bianchi (Marussia), Marcus Ericsson (Caterham) and Max Chilton (Marussia.)
The 15 minute session began with no takers until, with 13 minutes remaining, Hulkenberg steered his Force India out of pit lane.
Nobody except the Williams boys were gambling with the medium compound tires and all were on the softs.
With 9 minutes remaining in the session, Hulkenberg clocked a 1:35.682, but Raikkonen set a 1:34.925 and then Hamilton set a 1:33.872.
With 7 minutes remaining in the session, Rosberg took P1 with a 1:33.708 while Daniel Ricciardo was third in his Red Bull with a 1:34.592.
With 5 minutes remaining in the session, Red Bull‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√ë‚àö¬•s Sebastian Vettel headed out for his first lap. With 3 minutes remaining, Romain Grosjean did the same in his Lotus.
With 1 minute remaining in the session, Vettel grabbed ninth. Massa, on softs, slotted into eighth. But other drivers pushed Vettel down to 11th and so he missed the cut to getting into Q1.
The top six at the end of Q2 were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Jenson Button (McLaren), Alonso and Perez.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Vettel, Hulkenberg, Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso), Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso), Gutierrez and Grosjean. Bottas, Massa, Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) and Raikkonen rounded out the top 10.
Wherever Ricciardo ended up in Q3, he would lose 10 grid places as his penalty for the team giving him an unsafe release from the pit box in Malaysia.
Bottas was first out.
With 7 minutes remaining in the 12-minute session, with everybody but Raikkonen on the track, Bottas posted a 1:34.247. All were on the soft tires.
With 6 minutes remaining in the session, Rosberg took first with a 1:33.185 while Hamilton was second with a 1:33.464.
With 4 minutes remaining in the session, only Button was on track and he was heading for the pits.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, Raikkonen left the pits. Others soon joined him.
With 1 minute remaining in the session, everybody was out there. The top five were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Bottas, Perez and Massa.
Hamilton went off on his final run, which guaranteed that Rosberg kept the pole with Hamilton second. Ricciardo jumped up to third, Bottas was fourth, Perez fifth, Raikkonen sixth, Button seventh, Massa eighth, Magnussen ninth and Alonso 10th.