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Vettel takes ‘surprise’ first pole of season as Rosberg slips up
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Apr 2012   |  4:12 pm GMT  |  162 comments

Sebastian Vettel claimed his first pole position of 2012 in Bahrain today as he made the most of two runs in the final part of qualifying to beat Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber in an eventful session. It was a day for not making any mistakes, particularly front wheel lock ups under braking and for getting the perfect lap as the soft tyres were only good for one lap.

Vettel is the third different pole sitter in four races. It was his 31st career pole position. Red Bull has led just one racing lap in the first three Grands Prix of the season. At the same stage last year the team had led 127. Tomorrow in the race, Vettel and Webber have the chance to redress the numbers a little and given that they’ve enjoyed a race pace advantage in the first three events, there’s every reason to think they’ll take the honours tomorrow.

“It feels great and I completely owe this one to the team,” said Vettel. “It wasn’t an easy start to the season for us and there was a lot of expectation, but I think more than anything it was about what we expected from ourselves and we didn’t match it. We’ve been working extremely hard on the car, trimming here and there and finding the right way to go forward. The boys haven’t had much sleep the last few races!”

Vettel used a set of scrubbed option tyres to set a banker lap early on in the final phase of qualifying and at this point Hamilton and McLaren team mate Jenson Button occupied the front-row of the grid after using a new set of the soft compound tyre for their first run. During the second round of laps it was a case of leaving it as late as possible, due to the sandy conditions that make Sakhir an ever-evolving circuit. It looked as if Red Bull could have had a clean sweep of the front-row, until Hamilton knocked Webber back to third with a very late lap. But Webber took some satisfaction from seeing Vettel taking his set-up, as he told Australian Network 10 TV this evening.

Button, who’s been outpaced by his team mate all weekend, was unable to beat his first flying lap and ended the session in fourth place.

McLaren had earlier taken a huge risk, by not going out at the end of Q1 as many cars improved and they only just made the cut.

Behind the Red Bull and McLarens was the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg. Last week’s Grand Prix winner was unable to convert his practice pace into consecutive pole positions as he did just one run in the shoot-out and made a mistake with a small lock-up in the middle sector. However, Rosberg will be relatively pleased as he has a new set of soft tyres for what promises to be a race all about tyre life. Michael Schumacher had a problem with his rear-wing during the first part of qualifying which restricted him to just one run and left him down in 18th after a late charge from Heikki Kovalainen. After Pastor Maldonado takes his grid penalty for a forced gearbox change, this will move Schumacher up to 17th.

Daniel Ricciardo had a very strong session throughout, taking sixth position on the grid, the best for Toro Rosso since Jaime Alguersuari in Spa last year. The young Australian had shown good pace from the outset as he claimed second position in the first phase on qualifying. He will line up ahead of Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez. Grosjean put in a very good lap to reach the final shoot-out, however he was unable to find a significant amount of time in the final session to get in amongst the three top teams, as the Lotus was a little disappointing on the soft tyre.

The sister Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen will begin the race in eleventh after setting his flying lap too early in the second phase of qualifying and missing out on the track at its optimum condition at the end of the stint. Completing the top ten are Fernando Alonso and Paul Di Resta, neither of whom set a flying lap during the final session and will therefore have an extra set of options available for tomorrow and free choice of what tyre to start on.

Lining up behind Raikkonen is Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Hulkenberg who could not match the pace of their team mates. They start ahead of Felipe Massa, another victim of setting a flying lap too early. The Ferrari driver had looked like he was going to progress to the shoot-out, however late laps from those behind soon pushed him down the order to fourteenth place.

Bruno Senna is next up, just 0.3 seconds behind eleventh placed Raikkonen. Senna will share the eighth row of the grid with Heikki Kovalainen who put in a stunning lap that was just less than a second faster then team mate Vitaly Petrov. The two Caterham cars sandwich Schumacher and Vergne following Pastor Maldonado’s five place grid-penalty for a gearbox change which drops him back to twenty-second.

Behind Petrov is Charles Pic, the Marussia rookie out-qualifying Timo Glock for the first time. Glock will also start behind Pedro de la Rosa, who once again was the faster of the two HRT cars; Narain Karthikeyan bringing up the rear of the grid.

[Additional reporting: Matt Meadows]
BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX, Sakhir Circuit, Qualifying
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m32.422s
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m32.520s + 0.098
3. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m32.637s + 0.215
4. Jenson Button McLaren 1m32.711s + 0.289
5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.821s + 0.399
6. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m32.912s + 0.490
7. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m33.008s + 0.586
8. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m33.394s + 0.972
9. Fernando Alonso Ferrari No time
10. Paul di Resta Force India No time
11. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m33.789s + 1.367
12. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m33.806s + 1.384
13. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m33.807s + 1.385
14. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m33.912s + 1.490
15. Bruno Senna Williams 1m34.017s + 1.595
16. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m36.132s + 3.710
17. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m34.865s + 2.443
18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m35.014s + 2.592
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m35.823s + 3.401
20. Charles Pic Marussia 1m37.683s + 5.261
21. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m37.883s + 5.461
22. Pastor Maldonado Williams No time
23. Timo Glock Marussia 1m37.905s + 5.483
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m38.314s + 5.892

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I do wonder. What if the double drs of merc allows them to pass other cars while others have difficulties. What if also the faster car is not leading lap 1 whoever that migh turn out to be (Bulls or Macs). Then a train would emerge behind the leader. And I think that this would allow Rosberg to win the race if his car has also a comparable pace, which most likely is true?

Then again his tyres r pretty worn out used in both q2 &q3 so he would have to pit early. But he will come out with new softs and with the double drs he might not have a problem coming back…

Just a possible scenario.


Well here we are four hours from the race… I am still in awe of Schumachers bad luck, perhaps it’s time to call it a day this season… Before his car blows up!

Fingers crossed he’ll rocket up the front today, to balance out all the misfortunes he’s encountered in 2012 & 2011 for that matter.

I call it




Boring but, I’m not crossing my fingers for an exciting race today.


Webber should copy Vettel’s start preparation, given his car set up was borrowed by SV. If Webber’s engineer has been a factor in all those buggered up the starts, he should be diced and set on fire.


Do you guys not get Channel Ten in HD? There did seem to be a big advertising campaign about how F1 is on Ten now not One for the race, but to be honest I can’t really see how it makes any difference, would have thought most people who have One anyway.

JackFlash (Aust)

No. Channel Ten choose SD broadcast standard DVB-TV (it’s their workhorse SD entertainment channel). Conversely, the Ten Network has channel OneHD broadcast at HD DVB-TV standard -where the sport should be shown. No problems receiving the channel 10, but you can’t make HD out of SD transmission.

If Channel 10 decide to up the brodcast to HD for the F1 timeslot on Channel 10, then some of the angst would be alleviated (not all) – But of course delaying the Ch10 broadcast by 2 hours in West Australia for primetime avoidance(not live at all) is pretty crappy for them. This for WA is not a broadcast defintion issue as much as a ‘not live’ issue (despite Live F1 being the Channels mantra). JF


I had no idea of that! I almost never watch Channel Ten anyway so I didn’t realise that they didn’t broadcast in HD when they changed to digital. It does seem a strange decision to change from One to Ten with F1 seeing as One is their sports channel, at least at the weekends. I am in Sydney so I’m lucky with the timing, but I would be might pissed with it if I lived in WA.


I don’t think Rosberg’s mistake cost him anything, the car just didn’t have the pace of the Red Bulls.


Hi James,

Firstly, thanks for the coverage for the weekend.

I am very surprised with the way the FIA manages signalling for the weighbridge (case in point, Jean Eric Vergne).

I am not sure if there is a radio message sent to the driver before he enters the pits. If not, I think it is grossly unfair to expect a driver to spot a nearly camouflaged FIA official at roughly than 100 kms/ph, with nothing but the official’s finger pointing the driver to go to the weighbridge area.

Could we suggest the FIA to use better devices to help overcome this problem?




There is also a red light signaling driver to stop for weighbridge entrance.


Agreed. As high tech as F1 is, there are just some things that are still so primative.

* Some official point in the direction where you are suppose to go for weigh in.

* No track-cleaning trucks (at all events).

* No proper drainage at all tracks (eg Brazil with streams of water flowing from one side of the track to the other side)

It’s not as if F1 doesn’t make enough money.


This is the case in all racing. Up to the driver to spot the official, not the official to make himself visible to the driver.


As tyres seem to be the most critical factor it would be good for broadcasters to give us punters the following information:

Qualifying tyre (which they do) with laps used, number of primes available (laps used/new) and number of options available (laps used/new).

We can then better understand how a driver is going in terms of tyre use and pace and what strategy they may try and play out. Last week’s race was all too confusing at times. If anyone has this info, please share! Thanks


Funniest part of qualifying – hearing the BBC world feed, and getting to hear the unplanned broadcast of off camera commentary disussion. “I’m sexy and I know it…”



James, prob too late for answering this now, as the milks been spilt! But anyway, how disturbing for Webber would Di resta have been on the second last straight? It appeared MW was on a beautiful lap until then but had to stay very close to Di resta as he passed and from the onboard it looked just a little like it “threw” the momentum for breaking and cornering into the final corner. I’m thinking a tenth at least, so would have been extremely close to a RBR front row lock out. And secondly, what the heck was Di resta doing? He didn’t appear to be on a lap & he had to have known the big boys were coming, yet he stayed on the racing line on the straight and must have been travelling at least 100kph slower than MW as he passed. I thought it looked a bit dangerous and stupid of him, he should have pulled to the right of track at that speed.


Yes, a bit. He didn’t leave a big enough gap, as he said afterwards. I think Seb was faster today though


Maybe Di Resta was just trying to get some TV coverage for the team……


There seem to be quite a few “conspiracy theory” comments relating to the lack of coverage for Force India over qualifying.

I’d hate to think that Bernie and FOM would do this (not saying it couldn’t be the case), but there was also very limited coverage of Daniel Ricciardo in the Torro Rosso.

In saying this though, there qualifying coverage was mostly about the big teams as we didn’t really see too much of any of the guys from the smaller / slower teams doing their hot laps unless they were the last to run as was the case with Kovalainen’s run – and even then we didn’t see too much.

This season is turning out to be a cracker, with my money today on Vettel for the win with Webber coming in second and Lewis in third.

I hope there aren’t too many commercial breaks in the Network 10 coverage in Australia. The number and druation of breaks along with their timing has been shocking this year, and I can’t wait to be able to watch F1 commmercial free via a live stream on the net.


Don’t hold your breath – I tried the channel ten live F1 stream and it just cut to adverts when the TV did! Or do you know of another feed we can see in Australia?


Yeah, unfortunately the only one I know of is the Channel 10 one, unless you get use a proxy, but with the BBC no longer having the full rights who knows when we will get decent coverage.

I was talking more about F1 having a subscription based service to watch it online rather than through a TV partner.


James – will there be a race strategy report for bahrain?

I’ve heard this straight is the longest of the season, so the time give up on each pit stop will be the highest.

And tyre degredation seems to be the biggest issue here


This isn’t the longest straight of the season. Korea has the longest, Shanghai second longest. I don’t know where Bahrain ranks.

JackFlash (Aust)

He meant the Longest Pits on Pit Straight… I think. That is true – Bahrain Sakhir tack has the longest pit lane of all, if I recall correctly! JF


Yes there will be one


Is it me or Schum has been the king of DRS issues lately? They sure need to dress up their press releases a bit when “smelly things” happen and poor DRS takes the blame.

Unrelated, but must confess the smelly thing in Monaco 2004 was me fav, just watching Schu exiting the tunnel with 3 wheels instead of 4 was exciting. *jumping with joy*



You said that Vettel used Webbers settings for quail 3.

Was this his decision within the team, or did he not have a choice ?

Why would a driver give his team mate his settings to then get beaten to pole??

Same old story eh ??

Love to hear your comments.

BTW your comments are the best around!


Ok, just read the Daily Mail article by Chris Power from today. In it, he puts:

“… And Vettel did not cover himself in glory on Thursday by saying that it was time to get back to ‘the stuff that really matters, like tyre temperatures’ before describing the coverage of events in Bahrain as ‘hype’.”

Ok, I read the Thursday press conference, and it’s obvious that Vettel was saying the first bit about tyre temperatures firmly tongue-in-cheek. So I can see that Mr. Power’s twisting his words there. But I’d like to know where he said the coverage was “hype”? That is the BE party line, which I don’t and can’t agree with. Best for them to just say nothing. They all know they’ve been put in a bad situation by Bernie, but one loose comment could make things a lot worse.


JA, who’s the consensus best right now accelerating out of low-speed corners? That will be important on the back straight tomorrow.


All these “Oh no!” comments… What exactly is so disappointing about a season where we now have THREE DIFFERENT TEAMS fighting for pole? And where no one has any idea who might win or even be fast on any given day?

Silly me, I like racing MORE when there are more people with a chance at winning. Even guys with a penchant for giving us ‘the finger’!


“But Webber took some satisfaction from seeing Vettel taking his set-up”

I didn’t see that interview, but I assume your being sarcastic? He didn’t seem too impressed at all in the post quali interviews.


You’ll see it on Network 10 today, I did the interview

JackFlash (Aust)

..but in SD on Ch Ten (not OneHD sports), and on two hour delay if in West Aust. Boo-Hiss Ten-Aust.


and viewers in the UK thought that they had it bad. At least if they wanted to get SKY they could, no choice here


Firstly, what a fantastic effort from Dan Ricciardo. Now that is something to stand up about. Under 3/10’s away from an interview spot! That will keep his boss, Mr Marko happy.

It was obvious that the later you left your run the more the track was coming to the car. Vettel and Hamilton made the most of that position. Vettel should be satisfied but I wouldn’t get carried away with his change of fortune yet however the rear of the RB looked pretty awesome in the S2. And he used Webbers setup again…

Where was Newey? In the factory working out issues and ready for Mugello?

Why didn’t Alonso do a run? Maybe he will be a dark horse again tomorrow?

Did I miss something or did Force India miss out on some TV coverage? Slap on the wrist, I hope not?


Congrats to Vettel.

Nice to see u back Vettel’s finger.

Hope we will be able to see you again on Sunday.

😀 Good Luck!

Tornillo Amarillo

I feel Hamilton is the favorite tomorrow, when nobody expect it. He and the McLaren are always there in the front this year and it is not the same for RBR or Mercedes, but they also need a bit of good luck and no mistakes.


Question about qualifying set up vis a vis Lewis/Jenson. We’ve had 3 race weekends so far with Lewis seemingly finding the “right” set up for speed thus outperforming Jenson on 2 of the 3 Fridays ( I believe). For instance Jenson struggled finding the right set up until the actual qualifying this past weekend. Is lewis better at unlocking the speed in the car or Jenson just experiments more until the last minute? Any insights?? I believe the pattern is true BTW for most of last years’s races

UPDATE**…make that #3…JA, I’m starting a clock on this:)


Based on the P3 and Qualifying data on, it seems that Lewis is running less wing than Jenson. Either than or Lewis got extremely lucky with the wind.

That could be a result of Jenson wanting to nail the rear end down more as James alluded to. If this is the case, then Jenson might have traded off qualifying speed for tyre wear in the race. But if Lewis can manage the rear tyre wear, the extra wing level would just give Jenson worse wear.




Braking is important, I think here and they go a different way on that with different materials

Also the McLaren seems a bit loose at the back this weekend and Hamilton deals better with that than Button


Their time in the speed trap is at the high-end, which hasn’t been the case in the previous GP’s. Just guessing that they’ve taken off some downforce for this weekend, figuring that coming thru traffic will play a significant part tomorrow. Who knows if they’re right? We’ll see.

Vettel's Finger

I’m back people!


Hahaha nice one mate, very funny


And it’s GREAT to have you back.


Which finger are you? Index or middle?


Oh and there was I much preferring the big green cucumber!


This is just too brilliant.


Haha. Love it. His showing of the finger seemed short lived compared to the past. Maybe he’s waiting for a race victory 😉


It is VERY tight in F1 qualifying right now … I don’t think it’s ever been this tight.

Vettel and RBR look to be in a good position, b/c their long-run pace looked to be the best of the field. If RBR win tomorrow, it will be the 7th time that four different constructors have won the first four races of an F1 season (1959, 1962, 1967, 1970, 1972, and 1983). 1983 had 5 different constructors winning the first 5 races even.


That’s what I thought. Pole to 15th is covered by only slightly over 1.5 seconds!!! I can remember races when pole to second place was 1.5 seconds!!


I need to say that I would love to see Vettel of P1 for several more races….it was much more interesting to see Red Bull a bit behind Merc and McLaren.Hopefully in Barcelona 4-6 teams will be fighting for podiums: McLaren, Ferrari, Merc, Red Bull, Lotus and Sauber


Not to be harking back to what was mentioned earlier on by other contributors… but it was sooo shockingly petty and unprofessional of FOM not to show the Force India cars today. You would expect a professional body to rise above that sort of thing.

They’re acting like schoolgirls who had been stood-up at the dance and were now getting their own back. Very mature. Really set a high standard with that one.

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