Mercedes driver, Nico Rosberg will be the leading man after securing pole position ahead of the FIA Formula One 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix tomorrow.
”For the first time this season everything went perfectly today and that's a great feeling,” smiled Rosberg. “Pole position feels like a kick start for me and it's a great achievement from everyone in the team.”
The German impressed with his performance throughout the qualifying session and was rewarded with the ultimate prize in becoming the pole sitter for the race.
Rosberg admitted, “We still had some work to do after the practice sessions yesterday and the team had a busy night to turn it around. Thanks to them for the quickest car out there today. The race tomorrow is a different story and we're very aware of that. It will be difficult, especially with the rear tyres, and we know that other teams were stronger than us on the long runs on Friday.”
Rosberg has notched up the statistics for the team as they have now achieved their 200th front row start in the sport for the Mercedes powered car.
Rosberg’s fellow countryman, Sebastian Vettel failed to match his pace in the final seconds of Q3, but will still line up on the front row of the grid in a respectable second place for Red Bull.
Vettel said, “I’m not disappointed with that. Well done to Nico, it was a strong lap and it was all his today. When I crossed the line I saw I was second on the screen and didn’t know how much I was missing to pole as the lap was fine.”
The three time champion added, “We managed to save some tyres throughout qualifying and it will be about tyre degradation tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens. It’s good to start from the front.”
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso completes the trio of drivers in the most desirable grid slots following the highly competitive top 10 qualifying shootout. "It’s really good news that once again we managed to do well in qualifying, which is our Achilles Heel!" said the Spaniard.
Rosberg’s team mate, Lewis Hamilton already had his fair share of problems before qualifying began. The 2008 World Champion had severe left rear tyre wear towards the end of final practice and the team then chose to change the gearbox which resulted in a five place grid penalty. Hamilton initially qualified in fourth place but after taking the penalty in account it now means that he will start in ninth place.
“It wasn't the best of days for me but big congratulations to Nico. Back to back pole positions for the team is great and Nico did a really good job out there. I couldn't quite find the pace today and with losing five places from changing the gearbox, we've got a tough challenge ahead starting from ninth place,” said Hamilton.
Vettel’s team mate, Mark Webber is another of the usual front runners that faces a penalty but his was as a result of causing a collision with Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne during last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. Webber crossed the line at the end of Q3 in fifth place but will start from seventh place on the grid.
“I would have like to have got a bit more out of the car in that session and been a bit further up, but seventh with a penalty isn’t the end of the world,” said Webber. Alonso’s team mate, Felipe Massa appeared slightly off the pace of his closest rivals in qualifying after finishing in sixth place, but due to Webber and Hamilton serving their penalties the Brazilian driver will be promoted to fourth place.
In addition to the surprise pole sitter at the front of the field in the form of Rosberg, there was also a shake up through the rest of the top 10 with the appearance of both Force India drivers. Paul Di Resta was the first of the two as he qualified in seventh position. Due to the two penalties facing Webber and Hamilton, Di Resta will begin the Grand Prix from fifth place. The Scotsman will still be ahead of his team mate, Adrian Sutil though. The German ended Q3 in eighth place but will move up to sixth place for the race tomorrow and will accompany Di Resta on the third row of the grid.
Lotus Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen will be in between the two top 10 drivers in their penalty positions, as the former World Champion qualified in ninth place but will be in a Webber and Hamilton sandwich as he begins his race from eighth position.
Raikkonen commented: “It wasn’t the easiest qualifying session after a weekend which hasn’t been the easiest so far either. Yesterday it was difficult at times to find the balance with the car and I found that again today. This morning it felt good and we didn’t do too bad in free practice, but we didn’t quite get it right this afternoon. My lap wasn’t great, but it’s a long race so we’ll just have to see what we can do tomorrow.”
McLaren’s Jenson Button was one of the few drivers who qualified in the top 10 not affected by the two penalties which have caused a shakeup in the grid. The Englishman will line up in the 10th and final point scoring position as the Grand Prix gets the green light tomorrow.
Today’s qualifying session may have only been just to decide the starting line-up for the grid, but it certainly did not disappoint in terms of competitiveness that was delivered in the closing stages of Q3. If the action seen at this point in the race weekend is anything to go by, it is likely that the main event will have even higher levels of expectation tomorrow.
Not only are some drivers out of their usual places, but there are also the midfield runners in the mix who could cause a few problems for those like Webber, Hamilton, Button and Raikkonen who will be aiming for the front of the field.
Rosberg is one man though who is already there on his own merit and he will not be likely to give up his first place without a fight. Rosberg does have Vettel to contend with first of all though and he is one driver in particular that is used to leading from the front and will undoubtedly be keen to get back on top.