Bahrain GP 2018

APRIL 7, 2018

Qualifying Report - Quite Intense

Sebastian Vettel, Bahrain GP 2018
© RV Press

By Dan Knutson in Sakhir

"It was quite intense," Sebastian Vettel said after edging out Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen for the pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Vettel said he "tossed it away" with a mistake in his initial run in the final qualifying segment. But he redeemed himself to earn his 52nd career pole. "I'm feeling good now," Vettel said, "but tomorrow is a long, long race."

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Ferrari – Vettel and Raikkonen; Red Bull TAG Heuer – Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; Force India Mercedes – Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes –Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin; Renault – Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz; Toro Rosso Honda – Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly; Haas Ferrari – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; McLaren Renault – Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Sauber Ferrari – Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc.


Raikkonen topped the charts in FP2 and FP3. He'd get through to Q2, but five drivers would be out at the end of the18-minute Q1.

The ambient temperature at the start of qualifying was 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Centigrade).

Pirelli's slick compounds were the medium, soft and super soft.

After the first rounds of runs, Raikkonen was quickest followed by Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Magnussen.

Ericsson was 15th and on the bubble, with Grosjean 16th and Sainz 14th. Alonso was 17th.

Then it all went wrong for Verstappen who spun into the barriers at Turn 3 with five minutes remaining in the session. Out came the red flags.

He radioed in he was ok, but he was clearly upset with the accident as the "bleeps" he said over the radio.

After a five minute stop the session was restarted. It would be a busy time for the drivers around and below the bubble in the final minutes. Yet they waited to go out. Then, with just two minutes to go, all but the top six were in action.

At the end of the one-lap mad dash, the five drivers who were eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Grosjean, Ericsson, Sirotkin, Leclerc and Stroll.

The fastest 15 drivers who moved on to Q2 were: Raikkonen, Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Sainz, Gasly, Perez, Hulkenberg, Ocon, Hartley, Vandoorne and Alonso. The latter and Grosjean clocked identical laps of 1:30.530, but Alonso advanced because he set his time first.


Q2 ran for 15 minutes, and most drivers chose the super soft tires for the session.

But Hamilton, who had a five-place grid penalty and therefore needed a different strategy for the race, was on the softs. A driver must start the race on the tire he used to set his fastest time in Q2.

Vettel clocked a 1:28.341, which Raikkonen could not beat. He was third with Hamilton second, Ricciardo fourth, Bottas fifth and Gasly an impressive sixth.

Down in the drop zone, Ocon held 10th while Perez was 11th and Sainz ninth.

Both McLaren were out with three minutes to go in Q2. The track got busy. When the action stopped, the five drivers who were eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Hartley, Perez, Alonso, Vandoorne and Verstappen.

The fastest 10 drivers who moved on to Q3 were: Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Bottas, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Sainz and Ocon.


The drivers would basically get two attempts during the 12-minute session.

Vettel flew to a 1:28.196 but slid off in the final turn. Raikkonen beat him with a 1:28.101. Hamilton's 1:28.220 put him third.

Attempt one ended with the order being: Vettel, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo, Gasly, Sainz, Ocon, Hulkenberg and Magnussen. The last three had not made an initial run, preferring to save it all for the end.

The two Renaults were the first out for attempt two.

But it was Vettel who grabbed the pole right at the end with a time of 1:27.958. Raikkonen, who did not improve, was second ahead of Bottas and Hamilton. Ricciardo, Gasly, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Ocon and Sainz rounded out the top 10. But Hamilton would be demoted five places.