Nico Rosberg gave Mercedes their second pole position in a row in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
He will share the front row of the grid with Sebastian Vettel.
Most of the front-running teams opted for hard tyres in Q1 with the significant exception of Red Bull. But even using the medium tyres Vettel wasn’t quick enough to beat Alonso.
The Ferrari driver’s 1’32.878 was almost half a second faster than anyone else managed. Vettel took second ahead of six more drivers on hard tyres, led by Nico Rosberg.
Romain Grosjean was fourth-fastest while team mate Kimi Raikkonen went off at the first corner.
Daniel Ricciardo was in the drop zone with seconds remaining but produced a quicker lap to jump up to 12th. That knocked Pastor Maldonado out – the Williams driver had set the same time as his team mate to within a thousandth of a second, but Valtteri Bottas did his first so stayed ahead to progress to Q2.
Also eliminated were Esteban Gutierrez, who will start last after his penalty, and the Caterham and Marussia pair.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
|21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1’36.304|
Four drivers set quick enough times with their first run to ensure passage to Q2. They included the two Mercedes drivers, with Rosberg decisively quickest, and Alonso.
The fourth was Paul di Resta, who demonstrated Force India’s pace by getting through to Q3. He was later joined by his team mate.
Grosjean attempted to get through to Q3 with a single late effort but a mistake at turn 11 left him vulnerable and a delighted Jenson Button took advantage to get into Q3.
The other McLaren of Sergio Perez failed to get through, as did the two Toro Rossos and the remaining Sauber and Williams of Nico Hulkenberg and Bottas.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
|13||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’33.974|
|16||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’34.284|
Rosberg replicated his earlier pace at the beginning of Q3 and led the times again, with Alonso a tenth of a second behind him. Hamilton took up third with Di Resta behind.
All ten drivers returned to the track for a final run and all set a time bar Button: with Webber and Hamilton setting times good enough for the top five, and the McLaren unlikely to beat Raikkonen’s Lotus, he elected not to set a time.
Alonso also aborted his last run as he wasn’t on course to improve. Vettel had beaten his time but neither of them could do anything about Rosberg, who made a further improvement on his time to secure Mercedes’ second pole position in a row.
Massa was the only driver to choose the hard tyres for his qualifying run and took sixth, though Webber and Hamilton’s penalties will promote him to fourth alongside his team mate.
Top ten in Q3
|2||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’32.584|
|5||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1’33.078|
|7||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1’33.235|
|8||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1’33.246|
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