Vettel back in front with Bahrain pole position

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel returned to a familiar position as he claimed pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

His final effort in Q3 put him at the head of the grid for tomorrow’s race. He will share the front row with Lewis Hamilton.

Their team mates will start behind them on row two as Nico Rosberg could only manage fifth.


Q1 produced a shock elimination as the rapidly-improving track conditions caught out several drivers.

A last-gasp effort by Heikki Kovalainen was enough for him to take Caterham into Q2 by 0.013s.

Just as much of a surprise as that was the identity of the driver he knocked out: Michael Schumacher.

Mercedes, along with McLaren and Lotus, elected not to send their drivers out for a second run. In Schumacher’s case, a problem with his DRS prevented him from going out to set another time. They paid the price as Kovalainen produced a superb lap.

For the third race weekend in a row, Jean-Eric Vergne also missed the cut for Q2. Worse, he was seen driving through a red light as he returned to the pits as marshals attempted to direct him into the weighbridge, and is likely to face a penalty.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18Michael SchumacherMercedes1’34.865
19Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’35.014
20Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’35.823
21Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’37.683
22Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’37.883
23Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’37.905
24Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’38.314


Once again the closely-matched midfield produced another exciting Q2. With the track improving late in the session, and the changing wind keeping the teams guessing.

Romain Grosjean produced a superb late effort to secure his place in the final ten. But team mate Raikkonen missed the cut by a tenth of a second.

That came due to a last-gasp improvement by Fernando Alonso, who once again managed to get the Ferrari into Q3.

Meanwhile Daniel Ricciardo took the Toro Rosso into Q3, despite his team mate going out in the the first session.

Several teams got just one driver into Q3, including Force India and Sauber. Maldonado did not set a time after a KERS problem.

At the front, Lewis Hamilton pipped Nico Rosberg for the fastest time by a hundredth of a second.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’33.789
12Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’33.806
13Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’33.807
14Felipe MassaFerrari1’33.912
15Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’34.017
16Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’36.132
17Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault


McLaren and Red Bull were the only teams to set times at the beginning of Q3. Hamilton set the early pace followed by Button, Webber and Vettel.

Alonso also left the pits on a set of used softs but elected not to set a time.

Nico Rosberg elected to do a single run and may have regretted it when he made a mistake at the final corner. That left him fifth on the grid.

As they flashed across the line, Webber was first to take provisional pole position, but Vettel snatched it off him moments later by two-tenths of a second. Hamilton split their pair of them for second place as Button fell to fourth.

Ricciardo claimed sixth for Toro Rosso, with Grosjean and Perez the only drivers to set times. Di Resta joined Alonso in not setting a time, and the pair will share the fifth row of the grid.

Top ten in Q3

1Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’32.422
2Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’32.520
3Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’32.637
4Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’32.711
5Nico RosbergMercedes1’32.821
6Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’32.912
7Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’33.008
8Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’33.394
9Fernando AlonsoFerrari
10Paul di RestaForce India

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    96 comments on “Vettel back in front with Bahrain pole position”

    1. Red Bull seem to have re-discovered their qualifying speed, and if they’re as competitive in the race as they’ve been in the last few races then Red Bull are in for a big points haul.
      Mercedes were very disappointing in qualifying, I was expecting a Mercedes front row or at least a 2nd row

      1. Mercedes bombed Schumacher’s strategy, while Rosberg made too many small mistakes in his final lap. I too think they had the potential to be at least on the 2nd row.

    2. It’ll be exciting to see if RB can keep up the pace tomorrow.

      1. Judging from their pace in the last 3 races, I think they’ll not disappoint. My worry is whether Lewis can keep Weber and Jenson behind him.

    3. Ricciardo did an impressive job. It isn’t track evolution already when he beat Grosjean and Perez.

      1. I totally agree, I think Ricciardo’s performance here is a story unto itself. I’ve got high hopes for the fellow Perthite.

      2. soundscape (@)
        22nd April 2012, 12:25

        Question for my fellow Australian viewers:
        Does anybody know why ONE HD aren’t showing the race until tomorrow night? Or is that just a misprint? Very frustrating.

        1. soundscape (@)
          23rd April 2012, 0:30

          Disregard last. Network aired the race on their non-HD network (reason is a mystery to me). Caught the race live, crisis averted!

    4. This season is incredible! Every track a different team is the quickest- Hope it continues throughout the season. Lewis Hamilton WC 2012!

    5. Return of the dreaded finger!
      Was a great lap though, both Red Bull drivers looked quick and only a speedy Hamilton could split them.
      Was slighty (rather) annoyed at Brundle and Croft’s constant lavish praise of a stationary Di Resta, while Ricciardo quietly just slotted his STR into sixth position with a fantastic lap. In fact he was brilliant all of qualifying.

      1. Was slighty (rather) annoyed at Brundle and Croft’s constant lavish praise of a stationary Di Resta, while Ricciardo quietly just slotted his STR into sixth position with a fantastic lap.

        di Resta sits in a stationary car more brilliantly than any other driver on the grid! It’s like poetry.

        1. @aka_robyn You could say it was almost poetry (not) in motion!?!

    6. Ugh.

      And this season had such potential too ;)

      Seriously though hoping beyond hell we get a competitive 2012 race rather than a return to the 2011 boredom.

      1. Mclaren is still faster in race trim I’m sure.

      2. Three different race winners in 3 races so far.. and it looks like it could be 4 different race winners in the 1st four races.

        This season is nothing like 2011

        1. Think he means in terms of the race being another 2011 case of Vettel getting pole then having an easy stroll to 1st in the race.

          1. like Nico did in China?

      3. Vettel gets one pole and the season is suddenly boring? Grow up. Vettel winning the race would be a great result for the championship, as many different winners as possible and a close title battle between as many different drivers would be great.

        1. +1 The finger boy is back yessss

        2. Well said @tommyb89. Vettel winning tomorrow will just be better for the Sport & hopefully will not reduce the spectacle we have witnessed in the first 3 races. because we still have 3 more potential-likely race winners in Lewis, Mark & Schumi, possibly even Kimi if Lotus can keep up with the front-runners in the development race.

    7. Fair play to Vettel. He was under a lot of pressure because Webber looked like he was going to outqualify him again, and then he just pulls it out of the bag. Still fancy Hamilton for the win though.

      I was even quite pleased for Vettel until he showed his finger to the camera, yes Sebastian it is still the most infuriating gesture of all time.

    8. Bring the Vettel hate. The tears of LH fans are delicious and will fuel Seb to another world championship.

      1. You know there are other drivers, not just Lewis…

      2. Errrhm, okay. I’m not crying, so I’m not sure what you’re drinking.

      3. Well, I guess it’s nice that you consider Hamilton a serious threat. But let’s pump the breaks a little bit, champ. As far as I know, no LH fans are shedding any tears.

        1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
          21st April 2012, 19:19

          not yet

          1. Not yet, tomorrow they will

            1. Yeah, will see about that

    9. I don’t quite understand why everyone dislikes Vettel. He’s a great driver and has the ability to put a car on pole, so you should respect him.
      I do concede though that the brandishing of the finger can be annoying.

      1. I agree that he should be admired. Regardless of what we say of his and Lewis’ personalities, they should be admired for their natural gifts.

        Vettel got his success so young and just seems to be in the right place at the right time. This is contrary to how most others live their lives so I guess people might want to attach “gold spoon” and “favored” labels to him. I think he’ll grow on folks though. Maybe he needs a couple of years of struggle in F1 before he is better appreciated.

        1. Yeah. What Asif said. I mean, Fangio had dominant cars for 4 years in a row – even when he moved, the dominant shoe had moved to that team! But people don’t say that about him any more.

          1. Same about hamilton to an extent

          2. With the ever so slight difference that Fangio was 40 when he won his first championship.

            1. Age shouldn’t matter. The point raised is that Fangio dominated F1 for the majority of his career.

          3. As a massive fan of both the hate between Hamilton and Vettel fans always makes me laugh.

            People fail to see how similar the two drivers are. Both very successfully very early on, both extremely quick, both prone to the mistakes/incidents and both terrible at losing.

            It’s always funny to see opposing fans comment on why they dislike the driver whilst explaining the characteristics of the one they like.

        2. Right because Lewis Hamilton didn’t enter Formula 1 in a top tier team contending for the championship but Vettel did, right?

    10. Got to say I felt good for Vettel. I hated his dominance last year, but it’s not as irritating when it seems like a challenge for him, like he’s really had to battle.

      I’d have loved Hamilton to have a perfect weekend, but I don’t begrudge Vettel his pole at all.

    11. What a close qualy!!!
      Red Bull sure does look strong but with their inferior top speed and worse tyre management I still think McLaren will come out on to. Mercedes was disappointing and for this race they have lost their straight-line speed superiority which could penalize them in the race. Ricciardo was very impressive and so was Grosjean. Williams don’t seem to be as strong as in the previous races but they always disappoint in qualy, especially Bruno Senna, but they come back strong in the race.
      Q3 saw a driver from each team except for the bottom 3 and Williams which shows just how close it is out there!
      My driver of the day is definitely Kovalainen!!! Great effort!

    12. What a season so far! Tomorrow we’ll likely a 4th team taking a win this season in the 4th race. Great improvement over 2011. I just hope that Red Bull does not become dominant from here.

      1. @f1asif I can’t see any team dominating at the moment.

        1. @andrewtanner very true Andrew. However, I am just very scared of what Adrian Newey can do. I think it might be the hair :).

          I hope you’re right and the season continues this way!

    13. hamilton has new set of mediums (or softs?) from not doing a second run in Q1. could help him in the race.

      1. I think he has 2 new sets of mediums and 1 new set of softs. He was able to use the set of softs from Q2 for his first Q3 run.

        I was surprised that he had such a small gain on the brand new tires used in his final run. He was faster than the RB cars in the first sector throughout so he probably lost some time there. Otherwise, he could have been on pole.

        1. Ivan Vinitskyy
          21st April 2012, 14:55

          His second sector was slower than his first Q3 run so I guess a mistake somewhere.

      2. @sato113, @f1asif
        I think he has 2 new mediums, as he was using new softs on both runs in Q3.
        I am not 100% sure about it, but Jenson made both on new sets, as they showed it on McLaren pitwall, but kinda makes sense. Why do you want a new set of softs when you will use the medium in the race? Unless they do a 4stopper but its highly unlikely.

        1. The top 5 all used a set of used softs in their first runs in Q3, so they all have a new set of these for the race. Button though set his fastest time on the used set because he abandoned his second run so he might be vulnerable to rosberg at the start!

    14. Raikkonen done by a bad decision from lotus again. But hes done only 6 laps, so more tyre choices for the race tomorrow?

      1. Maybe starting on the mediums, and taking the lead as the leaders pit very early, making a stop for the mediums slightly before the leaders’ second stops, and then taking on softs for a final sprint up the field for the last 10 laps…

    15. Another quite mixed up grid. Schumacher doesn’t seem to be having much luck as of late which is a shame. Mercedes need both drivers to score well considering they only have 26 points, including a race win.

      That said, Schumacher usually makes good starts and I’ll try my best to focus in on him at the back as well as the guys at the front. The extra life in his tyres will help tomorrow I imagie.

      I, like many, expected that Ricciardo would have the initial edge over Vergne but perhaps not by so much in qualifying. Ricciardo usually managed to beat his team mate significantly at HRT last year so I guess this is just a continuation of that.

      Disappointed that Rosberg couldn’t stick it on at least the second row of the grid but the car does look good based on practice.

      Well done to Vettel. Just saw his pole lap and it was pretty much faultless aside from looking like he missed the apex of the hairpin in sector 2.

      1. Schumacher doesn’t seem to be having much luck as of late

        I’d say he’s not having any luck! Gearbox problem in Australia, sent into a spin by Grosjean in Malaysia and then the pit error in China, and now DRS problems in qualifying. It’s a shame, he’s driving much better than the two previous years, but he’s not having any luck right now.

        1. matthewf1 (@)
          21st April 2012, 16:00

          Hopefully he’s had his bad luck for the weekend on Saturday rather than Sunday this time, and he can get a good result tomorrow

          1. @matthewf1 I hope so. It would be good to see him score a point at least!

    16. Did FOM deliberately never show Force India in their coverage? They didn’t show anything of Di Resta nor Hulkenburg. Why? Because of Hulk’s yesterday comments? Because they pulled out of FP2?
      It’d be hilarious if a Force India won tomorrow. Bernie will probably force the Bahrain directors to erase the entire race off tape and create a graphical race of a Mac/RB/Merc winning. :P

      1. I don’t think there is a conspiracy here. We haven’t seen much of Force India at all this year. Other than Hulkenberg’s retirement in Melbourne, I can’t recall any other instance where I’ve seen one of them.

    17. Ricciardo……. And 8 manufactures in the top 10, loving it!

    18. Andy G (@toothpickbandit)
      21st April 2012, 13:47

      I think Button might be in trouble with his tyres.

      Ted was saying that the strategy is likely to be opt, opt, pri, pri.

      With this in mind, redbull and mclaren decided to use the spare set of options for q2 and the first stint of q3, knowing that they wouldnt be used in the race, and using a new set of options for their fastest time to start the race on.

      Vettel, Hamilton and Webber achieved this, however Button botched his last attempt, meaning he now has to start the race on doubly used softs. I wouldnt be surprised to see him pit a couple of laps before the front 3 tomorrow.

      1. “Button botched his last attempt, meaning he now has to start the race on doubly used softs”

        Like Hamilton in China.
        Depending on traffic, it might not matter.

        1. Andy G (@toothpickbandit)
          21st April 2012, 14:56

          Thing is in China they used all 3 option tyres in the race so it didnt matter.

          But here it is suggested that only 2 will be used, putting Button at a disadvantage as he must use the most worn softs, and the others wont have to.

      2. @toothpickbandit,

        With this in mind, redbull and mclaren decided to use the spare set of options for q2 and the first stint of q3

        Where did you get this information from? I’m reading these types of comments now and then, but I don’t really believe them. Ok, we heard Vettel over the radio, but I think we saw Jenson go out on new softs for his first try in Q3, and I think that’s the standard way of operating for these teams: one set of softs in Q2, and both remaining new sets of softs for Q3.

        I think the only drivers in the top 10 with new options left are Vettel and Rosberg (with Vettel and Webber having only one new set of mediums left as they used two in Q1).

        1. I think the only drivers in the top 10 with new options left are Vettel and Rosberg

          Ah, not Vettel, of course, because he did an outlap at the end of Q2 on his second set of soft tyres, and used those for his first Q2 run.

    19. Fernando, Fernando, Fernando… what are you planning to do tomorrow? What tyres are you using? Are we missing someone or something here? I will keep one eye on the race and another on Fernando. :)

    20. They should’ve let Rosberg set the first time. Rosberg bottles it under pressure again. He does that a lot, Rosberg. Quick when the pressure is off, but not otherwise. Clouting the kerb? Locking up into every next hairpin? On-throttle wheelspin? Come on… that’s amateurish for someone with over 100GPs.

      1. I’ve always considered him to be massively overrated…he’s good….

        1. I consider him overrated if people consider him to be someone who can really get the maximum out of a car. I feel he’s a “par player.” If the car is “5th quickest,” he’ll get 5th. He won’t get better. But my point is – he bottles a lot under pressure.

    21. Also – while again some people will say, “not the finger again!” but like I said in a previous comment on this site –



      1. Oh, and even a non-winner, too! :P


      2. +100500
        We all know that it’s not really the finger that some people hate, it’s two WDCs, 21 wins and 31 poles.

        1. Nope, it’s the very deliberate way he brandishes it at the camera, and the specific way he does always does it.

    22. It looks like we are in for an epic season… no one has a dominant car. I foresee the championship going to the wire. Vettel did a great job though. it certainly didn’t think he was going to be on pole. Got to admire Hamilton’s consistency this year. Great effort from him

    23. I have decided that I am not going to watch tomorrow’s race. Watching qualifying was always going to be something of a a litmus test for me, to see how comfortable I would be with watching the event. As it turns out, I am not comfortable.

      I have long maintained my belief that the only reason why a race should be cancelled is because of concerns over the safety of the teams, drivers, media and spectators, and that if a country is at a point where people are hurling fire bombs at police – and where police are sending tear gas back with equal fervour – then that country is not safe for Formula 1.

      It is difficult to quantify my exact feelings on the subject, but after watching qualifying I felt a sense of general unease, one that I have not felt since last year’s Malaysian MotoGP race. It was immediately obvious at the time that Marco Simoncelli’s accident was a bad one, but as the minutes ticked by and he was taken to the medical centre, there was an ominous feeling of foreboding that was unfortunately confirmed when it was announced that Simoncelli had died of his injuries. I had a similar feeling today, of anxious anticipation. I found the atmosphere around the circuit to be disquieting, as if I was waiting on the edge of my seat for something horrible to happen.

      Before anybody pounces on this and misrepresents it as me suddenly giving way to moral outrage, please don’t. I still believe that sport and politics should remain separate, and that it is not the place of Formula 1 or myself to go making political or ethical statements. That is for the international diplomatic community to do, and that is where I will cast my faith. If the situation in Bahrain is to be resolved, it will not be resolved by cancelling the Grand Prix, but through political and economic sanctions. That, I believe, is the safest, best, and most effective way forwards for all involved.

      This does not mean that I feel the race should go ahead regardless; quite the contrary. Three thousand (or more) people are needlessly risking their lives for the sake of something that is ultimately inconsequential.

      1. “This does not mean that I feel the race should go ahead regardless; quite the contrary. Three thousand (or more) people are needlessly risking their lives for the sake of something that is ultimately inconsequential.”

        I think that it how quite a few of us feel.
        There’s plenty of room to disagree on the politics of the thing – and, whether or not I agree with it, I respect your position – but what is offensive is the FIA and others pretending that safety isn’t an issue.

      2. Well I certainly didn’t see that coming.

        general feeling of unease

        I’d say that’s about right.

      3. Yes, this race makes me queasy, I’ll still watch it, much like I watched 45 minuites of moto GP paddock waiting for the inevitable news I didn’t want to hear.

    24. It’s amazing how close the field is in Q2. 15 cars in less than 1s, the top 10 that cut into Q3 separated by less than 0,5s! No wonder that a it is unpredictable!
      However Q3 was a bit of disapointment compared to Q2. I also have the impression that it is being like this so far in the season. For sure tyre management becomes more important in Q3 (with drivers opting not to set a time) and it makes a less intense session than Q2.
      Red Bull and McLaren locking the first 1 rows is a more usual sight, hope it is not a sight of things to come.

      1. It’s amazing how close the field is in Q2. 15 cars in less than 1s, the top 10 that cut into Q3 separated by less than 0,5s! No wonder that a it is unpredictable!

        Last week it was 3 tenths between 1st and 10th in Q2.

        1. Yes indeed. I did not mention it, but my comment about this Q2 was thinking of the season so far. It was VERY close last week but it has been in the races so far and the trend continues.
          And not just the TOP 10, but having 15 cars within 1s for 2 races in a row its really something.
          Q3 is not that unpredictable due to the 6 usual suspects, usually the only question is who joins them, although today there was 1 additional “victim”…

          1. I’m my last statement I meant to say “Q1 is not that unpredictable(…)”.
            About Q3 I am hoping that this year we might see the 10 guys really fighting for the pole, but that is probably wanting too much…

    25. Man this season is weird. Torro Rosso was nowhere last week, now they are only 0.5 secs of pole. Red Bull is supposedly slowest in straight line have pole in Bahrain. Mercedes was supposed to dominate quali at least, they have a driver eliminated in Q1.

    26. Hamilton has over 10kph on Vettel in a straight line, so Seb needs to bolt from the line or he’s going to be in trouble on lap 3.

      1. Vettel DID have a habit of pulling out a 1s gap last year so he could escape DRS but this year I just don’t know if he will be able to. Heck, the RBR is so slow in a straight line I doubt that escaping Hamilton’s DRS will help him that much!

      2. Depends on how they’ve geared up. Lewis could be geared up to maximise DRS top speed while Vettel is on the limiter half the straight. We don’t know how things will pan out in the race to be honest.

      3. My prediction: Either both Macs jump both RBs at the start or BUT jumps WEB and while HAM BUT WEB are fighting, VET will gain 3-4 seconds in the first 3 laps.

    27. Nice poll, great effort but … take that F’n1 finger somewhere perhaps not so sunny.

      1. It would fit great in the area behind Lulu’s shades.

    28. I’d love to see Vettel win tomorrow. Imagine this, 4 races with not only 4 different drivers, but also 4 different cars winning the races!!

    29. Grrr , someone snap that finger off, anyone would think he’s hoping for a career as a proctologist when F1 is done.

    30. did webber use the yellow tyres in q1? can someone help me?

      1. no footage, but i don’t think so. His and Vettel’s last gasp quick times came on a much improved track on the mediums.

        1. tnx very much. i have an argument in my country for this issue. i was right!

      2. No, WEB and VET on primes in Q1.

        One thing I don’t get,why do people, VET fans or not, care if other fans don’t like Vettel?
        What does it matter?
        I don’t hate any driver, just there are some I like to see win more.
        Bad timing did for Webber, he lost virtually all his time in S3 but still his best qualifying in Bahrain…bring on Sunday.

        1. One thing I don’t get,why do people, VET fans or not, care if other fans don’t like Vettel?
          What does it matter?

          It doesn’t matter. There are drivers I don’t particularly like, but I don’t go around harping on that fact in public forums. When people *do* choose to do that, however, it seems to me they are inviting argument.

    31. Just read on james allens website that vettel used webbers setup for q3! Is it me or would a little thankyou during the post quali interview be appropriate! It would IMO go along way with many fans that believe he is arrogant! Experience still counts for something!!

      1. First of all, no, I suspect it would go no distance with such fans. For instance, he said today that he “completely owe[d]” his pole position to his team for all their hard work on the car, and that’s made no difference in your opinion, has it?

        Second, are you sure that comment wasn’t about Vettel having to take on the exhaust configuration that was favored by Webber? I see nothing in Allen’s post about it being for Q3 only, and I can’t find the original source, so I’m just wondering.

      2. @brooksy007 – Some people look for any reason to whine about people like Vettel (or Hamilton for that matter).

    32. FINGER BOY !!

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