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Australian Grand Prix
Rosberg Makes It Two out of Two For Mercedes, But Alonso lies in wait
Posted By:   |  20 Apr 2013   |  3:24 pm GMT  |  175 comments

Nico Rosberg made it two Mercedes pole positions in as many weeks as he produced a sensational final lap to take the spoils in Bahrain, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

It was the second pole position of his career and means that Mercedes and Red Bull have both taken half the pole positions this season. But the race could be a different story.

After being off the ultimate pace throughout the weekend’s practice sessions Rosberg showed his speed from the outset of qualifying, although he only topped the times in Q3. And after coming close already this year he was able to save his best for two medium-tyre runs in the top ten shoot out to take the second pole position of his career.

“The first few races have been difficult, I hope I can kick start my season here,” said the German. “It’s going to be a very, very tough race, especially rear tyre degradation and wear, this track is quite severe for that. I’m not sure if we have what it takes to win the race tomorrow.”

However, Mercedes’ single lap pace today does not mean that they are the favourites for tomorrow’s race win, as the Mercedes is overheating its rear tyres on long runs and with Red Bull also tougher on tyres than Ferrari there is a question mark over what Vettel might be able to do starting on the front row. It will be worth watching out for the quality of their getaway from the line tomorrow as well as Mark Webber said in a TV interview this evening that he thinks some of the others may have moved ahead of Red Bull in perfecting their starts. One of them is clearly Ferrari and so, for a variety of reasons, it is Alonso who once again finds himself in a strong position, despite making a mistake on his final run in Q3. He aborted the lap and saved a lap on the tyres.

Ferrari has approached this weekend methodically with lots of work in Friday practice on both tyre compounds and lots of data. Felipe Massa went for the hard tyre in Q3 and with grid penalties applied to Webber (for China collision) and Hamilton (for a gearbox change) Massa starts fourth with a totally different strategy from the rest.

Alonso was at the sharp end for the duration of qualifying but chose to abort his final flying lap when he saw that he would be unable to beat the times of Rosberg and Vettel ahead, so he saved a lap on his medium tyres. Ferrari will be hoping for a reconstruction of how last weekend’s Grand Prix win panned out, and with Kimi Raikkonen only managing ninth place he has little threat of a car that is good to its tyres nearby. Raikkonen was many people’s favourite for this weekend after stunning pace on the long runs, but he missed his chance in qualifying; if he had matched his Q2 time in Q3 he would be starting fifth tomorrow and in with a chance. As it is he’ll have his work cut out from 8th, especially as the Force India cars will be hard to pass.

Raikkonen moves up to eighth after the fourth placed Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton had to undergo a late gearbox change following suspension damage in FP3 and consequently received that five-place gear box penalty, which means he starts 9th.

Amongst a number of excellent drives the Force India pairing of Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil stood out. They have had the pace to fight for the top ten all weekend and after the penalties they will see themselves beginning in fifth and sixth place, with Di Resta coming out on top.

Closing out the top ten is Jenson Button, better than expected in many ways for McLaren. They were unable to match the teams ahead, but seemed satisfied with making it at least one car in the shoot out. Team mate Sergio Perez was 12th.

It was another difficult session for the Williams team as their two drivers posted identical times to the nearest 1/1000th in Q1. The fact that the two were so close indicates that they are dragging the maximum out of the FW35, but that maximum could only see them qualify 15th with Bottas and 17th with Maldonado. There are no quick fixes in the pipeline for the team, only hard yards ahead, it seems.

The battle between Caterham and Marussia swung in the former’s favour with Charles Pic coming out on top of the quartet. His team mate, Giedo van der Garde, was behind the Marussia of Jules Bianchi but ahead of Max Chilton. Pic has an extensive range of upgrades on his car and it’s made a significant difference, as he was well clear of the Marussias today.

The race will be about strategy and keeping the rear tyres cool. Lotus and Ferrari are the strongest on long runs with Force India also competitive. Alonso looks the favourite, but Vettel will make it as hard as he can. The battle for the podium will be fascinating with a number of contenders.

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.330s
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m32.584s + 0.254s
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m32.667s + 0.337s
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m32.762s + 0.432s (will start 9th)
5. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m33.078s + 0.748s (will start 7th)
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m33.207s + 0.877s (will start 4th)
7. Paul di Resta Force India 1m33.235s + 0.905s (will start 5th)
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m33.246s + 0.916s (will start 6th)
9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m33.327s + 0.997s (will start 8th)
10. Jenson Button McLaren

11. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m33.762s + 1.016s
12. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m33.914s + 1.168s
13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m33.974s + 1.228s
14. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m33.976s + 1.230s
15. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m34.105s + 1.359s
16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m34.284s + 1.538s

17. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m34.425s + 1.547s
18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m34.730s + 1.852s
19. Charles Pic Caterham 1m35.283s + 2.405s
20. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m36.178s + 3.300s
21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m36.304s + 3.426s
22. Max Chilton Marussia 1m36.476s + 3.598s

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The Mercs have been haunted by reliability issues and have eaten tires in hot conditions ever since. I think there is little hope for more. I’d be surprised if Rosberg wins this race, not unpleasantly though.


great pole lap by rosberg. shame hamilton couldn’t join him on the front row with his unfair penalty compounding his problems. i don’t understand why he has been punished with a 5 place grid penalty because pirelli provided them with faulty tyres which failed and triggered the suspension failure culminating in a damage to the gearbox. surely mercedes could’ve put a firmer case to the fia.

all said and done, it’s up to hamilton to turn all that around now with an exciting drive to the chequered flag..

no rain no safety car no dirty tricks just a fast race ahead with a bit of sand on track.

coulthard should ask his mate jake to seek me and pay his royalties.

Anthony Alonso :-)

hmm quite a few bashing alonso here, forget the driver for a minute but historicaly ferrari have allways concentrated on race pace setup over quali/race comprimise. put together the ferrari start sequence – its a winner and a much easier drive through the race for them.

think vettel will find it tough out there and i expect Kimi to grab Podium too if he gets a sniff at it – Hes hungry.



Is this a new strategy from Pirelli, the randomly disintegrating tyre. Building a defect into some of the tyres in order to spice up the show. Seriously is this a sign of a problem with the tyres, what was the reason for the failure?


Nice to see Mercedes proving all the so-called experts wrong. Rosberg needs to hold that lead and force the following drivers to wear out their tires trying to pass him.

Bring Back Murray

The BBC were saying that a 3 stop strategy is only a few seconds slower than a 2 stop. In otherwords maybe Merc could take the 3 stop and push a lot harder with the tyres in this race than the first two.


How is it Mark starts 7th, if he had a three place grid penalty. He qualified 5th, so wouldn’t that put him back to 8th position on the grid?


No worries. I worked it out. Lewis qualified 4th, ahead of Mark, so he gains a place. Odd how they work it out … effectively he’s oonly dropped two places.


Loved Massa’s ploy, qualifying on the hards knowing that two of the drivers ahead of him would be taking penalties. Clever stuff.

tyres, tyres, tyres

James, it took Button almost 3 years to beat Hamilton to pole position in the same car. Rosberg did it in 4 races. In a crazy way he might harm MercedesGP longterm plans by taking pole position(s) like today because this could be the kickstart of something, if he can keep this up, which would undermine Hamiltons reputation as one of, if not the fastest driver over a single lap. Its the last myth that Mercedes management as well as Hamiltons fans could cling on to till now. He isnt gonna beat Schumis 7 championships as was predicted back in 2007 after all, amongst other things, so being the fastest is the last marketing ploy. If Rosberg destroys this myth this year Mercedes will have the problem of how to fully exploit Hamiltons bigger global marketability compared to Rosbergs !

Can they actually allow this scenario to happen with the all important all new formula F1 in 2014 around the corner which Hamilton is supposed to spearhead thanks to the superior Mercedes engine ? Right now i know its not a concern because they will rely on Hamilton to outpace Rosberg again from Spain onwards. But what happens with Hamilton if Rosberg REALLY is faster “big question mark”

Bring Back Murray

The difference in pace was suprising wasn’t it. Lets see after the next two or three races whether this was a one off or not. More than likely Hamilton won’t stand for it and put another marker down himself in the next qualifying session. I also think Hamilton will be strong in the race – looks like they could take a 3 stops and really push during this race.

At any rate, Brawn must be loving the competition between his drivers at the moment!

As an aside, my wife has arranged a bloody party this afternoon. I hope I can sneak out and still catch the race!


You’ve formed a lot of conclusions there over one qualifying session. And you’ve created this “being the fastest is the last marketing ploy”. Where’s your source on that one?

If you think Hamilton’s going to beat Rosberg in quali and race at each event, you need to think again. Likewise if you think Rosberg is about to start demolishing Hamilton till season’s end, that’s wrong too. There’s a many world class drivers in this field.


Rosberg out qualifies Hamilton and all this drivel starts. During the season there will be many times when Rosberg will be quicker especially as Lewis gets used to the set up of his new team. Most people realise Nico is a very quick driver, who would give any top driver a run for their money, and get fed up with the cliche rubbish said about Hamilton.


It is ridiculous, isn’t it? Does anyone think that Brawn or any team principal take one occurence, and extrapolate it to a for-the-rest-of-time conclusion as some of the posters on these boards do? It’s head-shaking stuff.


James just wondering about mark webber tyre strategy , from what I could work out he still has 1 new set mediums and 3 new sets hards.


He saved an extra set of hards, he will do most of the race on new hards once he gets off the medium at end of first stint.


Well let’s see no bashing today.

First of all bravo bravo to Nico for finally pulling it off in Q3. Not sure if the team decided to run a different setup strategy than LH or what but that was a very nice drive.

On to Mr Brawn, who I have said before the more I see the more I like and he and his team have really shown something this year. Bravo as Well.

Next we have Seb and Webber, Webber’s car seems to have some oversteer issues. Seb’s car is fast and probably will handle the tires the best of the top 3 on this track with these tires. Especially since it appears they saved tires so they can have all new tires for the race. Sutil said Force India and 2 other teams had this advantage and in the end I should prove too much for Ferrari.

Alonso and Massa, well I liked Massa’s strategy with LH and MW having penalites he knew he would move up. The car itself seems unstable with Alonso spinning in P3 and losing traction a few times in Qualifying including ruining he last lap. The US broadcast guys thought Massa might end up taking a penalty for Blocking.

Force India came with a ton of updates and thought they would have a strong weekend, it looks like that will be the case as they have both quicker cars and seem to be pretty kind to the Tires.

Sir Frank Williams has always been an impressive person, self made and a fine businessman. It is too bad that he finds himself saddled with the likes of Pastor Maldonado.

Lotus, what do you say Kimi lost pace, Grosjean is just trying to not hit anyone. They need a 1 stop to have a chance.

For those of you that don’t know a small town not far from me; West, TX; had a major industrial disaster this week and of course I am sure you guys are all aware of the Boston Marathon Bombing case. Please have kind thoughts and if you are faithful kind prayers as well for those killed and injured in a tough week for my country.


Got to give some credit to Jenson, he put that dog of a car in the top 10, probably wont get a podium but if and this is a big Mclaren IF, all goes okay he might get a point or 2.


Should do, no reason why he wouldn’t.

Pretty sad state of affairs though when we’re already saying ‘a big McLaren if’ 🙁


that i do agree


Is Alonso a Q3 choker? He should have had the speed today to at least beat Vettel…


Better to start p3 in bahrain, clean side….so it is ok for him i think


Oh lord. He made a small mistake, that’s all.


Alonso knew he could beat Vettel but he feels more confortable starting in the clean zone. So for him it is better P3 than P2 or P5 than P4 and so on. It may or may not work, in Malasya didn´t but in China he won.


Alonso was pushing hard in Q3, but he made two mistakes and flat spotted his tyre in the process.

He was definitely going for pole but could’t put it together despite having the quickest package.


The way you spin this is very funny so he intentionally qualified third?

Theres nothing we wont hear about Alonso had that been Vettel am sure all forms of adjective would have been used.

The Ferrari is the fastest so far and he cant qualify it well simple.


For heaven´s sake!!! He wanted the pole of course!!! But when he saw he couldn´t get it done he aborted the lap to stay in P3 and save tyres at the same time. He has said many times he feels more confortable starting the race from the clean side of the track. why? I don´t know. Ask him


This is a complex race, and complex to set up for.

I believe we have a variety of strategic approaches going.

The weirdest outcome was the drop of Lotus-Raikkonen; but we’ve seen this team dedicated to approaches that do not seem intuitive at the beginning…

That said, go Nico, go!

Start could be interesting with the front six personalities/complex relationships, etc…

Without mishap, I expect an Alonso-Vettel battle to the first pit stop, then total question marks.

As usual, I’m for the under-dogs, Massa, Webber, Rosberg, and the best driver, Kimi; I wouldn;t mind a Di Resta podium, a long time in coming.


Three things will decide the outcome of the race tomorrow;

1). The start of the race.

2). Tyre management of the leading drivers.

3). Team strategy;

Having mentioned those three crucial points, ultimately the race will be in my opinion between Alonso and Vettel. Based on the lap times of the long runs in the three practices and the management of tyres, you have to day that Alonso have the edge óver Vettel.

I will be looking closely what Massa will be doing. He could spoil the outcome of the race for Alonso. It will be interesting what Strategists of the Ferrari team will come up with, if Massa really will be a threat to Alonso.

Having said that, nothing is certain until the leading driver finishing first.

I can’t wait for the race.


Looks like Alonso will win :(…no threat from Massa..he is on hard tyres his race is going to get screwed up in the end.


LOL but thatts been the norm anyways


HeHe. What a rookie does. My apologies for this intentional typo.


Stop, please. You should apply yourself what JA said to another poster above: “Stop bashing drivers”!

Maybe then you could contribute substantially to the discussions ​​here instead of leaking your hatred repeatedly, always the same mantra, time after time. What a bore. And if you cannot give up doing it, do what a rockie does: watch and learn.


How did this pass through the moderator are we not allowed to state opinions any more?

Why the personal attack?


Ferrari seems to be doing a lot better with the hard tyres for some reason. So I don´t see why Massa should have serious problem with pace. Then if Alonso, Vettel or whoever have better pace or strategy that´s another thing. We will find out tomorrow

Bring Back Murray

They seem to be using Massa as the Guinea pig don’t they to see how the hard tyres perform in preperation for Alonso.


I think it’s a good move in another aspect that no one has mentioned: pit stop planning.

Massa lost out badly in Australia & China when Ferrari had to make their second & first stops respectively. This way they don’t have to stack drivers or leave one out for a lap longer than they need.

Frankly, with Webber and Hamilton being penalised I am surprised more drivers didn’t try it – especially Force India.


Massa’s driving style seems to eats his tyres faster. In China, he started well but ended up in 6th. Whilst Vettel started 9 th and just missed out on a podium.

By starting on the hard compound which Massa prefers, Massa may be able to avoid getting Stuck behind a train and finish higher than 6th.

I predict Massa will finish no lower than 4th on this strategy, which may be why Ferrari chose to strategy.


Maybe you could elaborate out of gibberish, please do.

I don;t see why Massa is dismissed as a threat to Alonso, neither why he might get ‘screwed up’ at the end, if he starts on hard tires; actually, I suspect it might be good for Massa to get the hard tires stint out of the way at the beginning, then advance the remainder of the stints on mediums.


My guess is he will lose more position and time on hard tyres (slower ones) than he will gain when he is on medium tyres. As by the time he switches to medium tyres he will have Nico and Force India immediately ahead of him which will make it difficult for him to pass and as he said himself he is not comfortable on medium tyres.

If he would have decided to start on medium tyres then he could have kept Force India at bay and probably overtake Nico in first stint. I think it was his decision to do Q3 on hard tyre.


Massa is 4th on hards and ferrari are very strong on them. Unless alonso gets clear of massa early on, massa should fight for the win.


If Hamilton finishes ahead of Nico in the race – I would not be surprised…

Qualifying is not as important, with the fake racing these days.


Well obviously its not ‘fake’ racing, car and tyre management has always been part of motor racing and even this season its no coincidence all the world champions are dominating, but Nico is done well to get pole, his race pace is as good if not better than Hamilton’s, just couldn’t show it at Oz and China because the car broke down but the pace is there and I would be surprised if Hamilton beats Nico tomorrow unless something happens to Nico e.g. car contact and damage and mechanical faults, expect Rosberg in the top 4.


Some re-evaluation of opinion is in order, methinks.

Tornillo Amarillo

True. By the way, a circuit in the dessert, with sand on theface… are the palms made of plastic?


Is it just me or does that sound like a Gorillaz song?

Tornillo Amarillo



I would be! They’re in the same car! It’s not like Lewis saved an extra set of tires, etc.


There seems to be a fairly prevalent negative opinion of the tires.

For me, it is confusing, since we really do have the best spectacle in years.

Yes, it is more complicated for the casual observer, and requires a bit more ‘paying attention’ to what is going on; yet the race action is better than it’s ever been (in the modern era since the 1980s).


Overtaking was a buzz until the arrival of excess aero, low mechanical grip and under powered engines… DRS overtakes are about as exciting as watching paint dry.

They may as well get the driver in front, to park in the hard shoulder.

The tires are so soft that drivers are never pushing more then 60%… they have to drive slow, or to team guidelines, so they do not wear out too early…

If that doesn’t add up to fake racing, then I don’t know what well.

Some people like a real boxing match, while some people will find American Wrestling to their liking…

Why don’t we all just admit it is fake now, and treat it as such? It’s cheap entertainment.


Okay Ron, your comment merits further discussion.

I agree about the contrivances.

You present it as having become fake; when did that happen?

If it is ‘fake’, did you think it was ‘fake’ with the Williams active suspension?

So just when did it become ‘fake’?

I’m not necessarily disputing the claim, just trying to figure out your line in the sand, for ‘fake’.

My point: if it is fake now, it’s been been fake for a while, and since it’s been fake, right now is the best spectacle of it?

I look forward to the courtesy of reading your reply.


It may be early to write someone off but max chilton isn’t good enough for f1. Alonso Hamilton kubica kimi Etc all proved instantly how good they were and chilton is not showing anything. Money talks. Get him out and get kobayashi, senna or Heikki in.

Bring Back Murray

McLaren could sign him


Tend to agree, but you said it yourself: Money talks


Once again it is all about saving those wafer thin tires that have less durability and a shorter lifespan than a condom. This is no longer racing but all about managing tires- even in qualifying!

Congrats to Pirelli for generating publicity, but of the wrong kind!

Seeing all the marbles off line “showcasing a consumer product” to generate sales is extremely environmentally unfriendly and counter productive. If I were Pirelli, I’d get out of F1, because the current tires requested by FIA do nothing but detract my product in the eyes of the average consumer who only hears about tire degradation and management and sees spent rubber balls off the racing line.

As for qualifying : congrats to Nico- great pace, i only wish you had a whiff of a chance in the race.

Also thanks to James and the crew for their usual great insight!


how many q3 runs did lewis do? would make sense to do one & keep more tyres for the race as no chance of pole with the penalty & all but did he do one or two?


1, I bet he finishes ahead of Nico tomorrow.


He did two, though I’m not sure he set a time on the second. The FOM feed showed a chequered flag for him, though his time didn’t improve. Alonso bailed out of his 2nd run.


I would keep a very careful eye on the Force Indias tomorrow. I was watching their times in practice this morning, and they were very, very quick even with a few laps into a run. Both drivers seem to be on form and very motivated, and they could cause Red Bull or Mercedes some real problems tomorrow if those two teams suffer big tire deg. We could see di Resta or Sutil on the podium, if things turn out right. Force India are really showing some good pace to start the year and have made a big investment recently. I think Hulkenburg may be regretting the move to Sauber a little.

Looking like a Ferrari win tomorrow. Watch out for Massa’s strategy; it could surprise some people tomorrow.


I said here many times, and will say it again… Alonso that some think is the better driver out there, has how many poles? Have the best car by far (“I’m not pushing”! Remember?), together with lotus, and cannot put together a flying lap. That’s why LH smashed him in his rookie year, and Alonso had to stop Lewis at the pit stop to not have another pole on his back.

I don’t know if James has some driver he supports, but he clearly likes KH and FA. And did not talk about the big mistakes about these both drivers. Everyweek he says here that Ferrari, lotus, Kimi, Alonso, etc. when Alonso was pole? When Kimi was pole? Alonso and Kimi both crashed in this season already, and Mercedes has two poles! And no weekend I read him talking that Mercedes can be a good car. I think you will need to review your theory James…

Go H.A.M. tomorrow!

Alberto Martínez

“Alonso has the best car by far”.

So then “the reborn Massa” in the same car would have outqualified again “the slow Alonso” and taken pole. However this weekend their best times were:

Massa Hard -> 1:33:207 // Medium -> 1:33:358

Alonso Hard -> 1:32:878 // Medium -> 1:32:667

The F138 could be a great balanced car (as is the Lotus) but its one-lap pace is not the class of the field for sure.


I have to agree with Marcelo, too much glorifying Alonso, it’s getting a big annoying


Marcelo I think you’re theories are wrong, Hamilton never ‘smashed’ Alonso in 2007 it was quite even and Hamilton had Mclaren’s support. I do agree Ferrari is the fastest race car now and Alonso on 1 lap is not as fast as Vettel and maybe Rosberg but he is similar in 1 lap pace to Hamilton and Webber so its not exactly slow, I doubt Hamilton will be able to be on the podium tomorrow and you discredit Kimi too much, he beat Hamilton last time out with a broken front wing and also Alonso’s race pace is matched only by Vettel on this grid, Hamilton is struggling to keep Rosberg at bay worry about that first.


Well said he chocked under pressure very clear to see but we still keep hearing he would be good in the race due to the pirellis.

Back to bridgestone years where a driver can do 20 qualy laps he would be no where like he was in 2010 if not for redbull reliability.


Alonso won 2 championships without Pirelli tyres


LOL!!! You´re hilarious. So driving style,talent, budget, mechanic and aero play no role at all in a race. It is all due to tyres


Thats due to the michelins Ferrari was disadvantaged and Kimi kept breaking down.


You ‘d probably hear more of FA even when he’s not on pole cos he probably has the best race car right now and if ever a driver could threaten from anywhere outside pole, that driver is Alonso.


Uh? If you think you know all there is to know about F1 then maybe you should fill an application for a job at the BBC or Sky. This is the James Allen blog. He has been working as F1 journalist for many years. You can desagree with his comments and his point of view. I desagree with his comments many times. However I don´t think I can come here and ask him to say beautiful words about my favourite driver or team. It is not James Allen´s job to make me happy.


Your comment seems strange.

Both Kimi and Alonso have won one third of the races this season.

It is true that the added complexity of the tire management makes it much more difficult to tell who has advantage, even AFTER qualifying, but I like the difficulty of predicting the outcome, even half way through the race.

Hamilton is a great driver, and we have a season in which this great variability of multiple make-or-break factors seems to favour the best driver in the long run.

Now that we have several teams in a top tier, with at least one top tier driver, we cn enjoy and watch the cream rise to the top, race by race.


I think you have to read more of JA then. JA was saying that Mercedes were getting it together, starting from over the winter.

Alonso has the best car, but “by far”? Those sorts of words mean something to me, but it seems they mean something else to others. The F138 ain’t no RB6 or RB7, which were clearly dominant cars.

I am a HAM supporter, but your post does a lot of harm to our collective group.


If you add together Alonso’s fastest times from each sector in qualifying you get 1m 32.663s, as opposed to 1m 32.667 which was his fastest lap in Q3.

He wasn’t able to improve the overall lap time in the second run, so didn’t take the pole, but it’s not like he left time on the table in the first Q3 run he did.


on the tv they reported that Alonso’s first run in Q3 was on used medium tyres – is that true?

Also, if it is, doesnt that put him on the back foot tomorrow as that was the fastest time, thus he starts on tyres that were used and then qualified on, so used at least 3 laps more than vettel and rosbergs…. wont this impact Alonso’s strategy – or at least put him on level pegging to the Merc and RB with tyre wear.


It was reported, I heard it too. But it is incorrect. F1 live timing data said he used new Options.

Which makes Alonso’s tyre usage:

1 x new Hard in Q1.

1 x new Medium in Q2.

2 x new Medium in Q3.

Really though, why would he go out on used Options in Q3 knowing he may have to start on them? Especially considering that would leave another set of the inferior (for race use) mediums unused in the garage for Sunday when they are unlikely to run 2 stints on Options?


Exactly what I thought. If he had completed his 2nd lap would that mean he could start on those tyres? even if the time set was not his fastest.


wow. someone telling James to review his theory? Well there is no theory to prove or speculate here.

James writes what has happened and corroborates that with proofs. Just like he did here.

I have to say James, you are not making Marcelo happy here with your reply (proof)


Rumors circulating that Ferrari had a first-hand earlier information about Pirelli tyres than any other team, except Lotus, is’t true?


I don’t think so.

But if they had, it wouldn’t have helped anyway. The interaction between a car’s characteristics, the track surface and the tyre faced with a specific driving style is something to be sorted out for each track, each driver and each car on its own and simply knowing the results Pirelli got from a 2010 Renault car cannot easily be translated to any other team/car/driver/track combination.

There are people who are suspecting conspiracies everywhere, most of them tend to ignore that things are not as simple as they’d have to be to make their conspiracy work.

Tornillo Amarillo

We will know it in 1,000 years Methusalem…


James do you now think Kimi has blown his chance to win? My pick for the race is Massa that hard tyre strategy of his is very interesting indeed.


massa for his first win since I forget when

oh , I forgot , he will have to ask alonso to pass him

the ferrari is easily the best car on this track …expect a 1-2


Ferrari are on the steady slow rise, and look particularly competitive on race pace and starts, but this is going to be a long race, and maybe a safety car at the first turn, adding delicious variability to the show.

As for the best car right now? It is so highly sensitive at the moment, that a five degree change in temperature might significantly affect the pecking order.

I’m with you on your hopes for Massa; go Massa, Go!

Don’t miss the start tomorrow.


massa to punt alonso, himself and 12 other cars tomorrow on the third lap.

Bring Back Murray

Good job Nico.

Any ideas on how Merc can translate their qualifying pace into race performance? Is this a fundamental issue with the car or something that can be tweaked with a couple of aero modifications? (James?)


No I don’t think just a few aero parts can sort this lack of race pace, it is a traditional Merc pattern to be faster in quali than race but its still mainly to do with tyre degredation if they can sort that out with setups like camber angles or the tyres change then they might improve their long runs and challenge for wins, not at the moment.

Bring Back Murray

It would be great if Merc could get on top of it by mid-season – giving Hamilton a real chance to have a go at things. I’ll stop short of saying that he could go for a WDC but at least challenging regulary for race wins.


What a confusing top-10 of the grid!!

Tornillo Amarillo

Yeah, you can argue that the favorite is P8…


Or is it P9?!

Too confusing….

Tornillo Amarillo

No, P8 in the grid (Raikonnen). He got P2 at the end in the race.


James, I value your blog/site so much, thanks for putting so much effort in it.


Alonso and Massa had great Race Starts All through Last year and this year. I would’nt be surprised if they are leading 1, 2 by the first corner. I even feel that Massa might Lead into the first corner instead of Alonso. Vettel has to really improvise his start to get ahead if he has to have any chance of winning. Eitherway whoever gets the first corner has the best chance of Victory. Although if it is Massa it will be handed over to Alonso.

My Bet …. The Race is all set for a Procession tomorrow !!!


I don’t see Massa getting the lead after the first corner, he’s 4th which makes it hard for him anyway even with the Ferrari start but then its the dirty side which is dusty as hell it will nutralise Massa’s start, and Vettel’s start will be comprimised too, its between Alonso and Rosberg for the early lead and Vettel will do well to come out 3rd.


@Tealeaf, In the Hindsight, I must admit I was totally wrong about my predictions 🙂


The good news for Mercedes is the pole, the bad news is reliability. I hope Nico can win if not the race at least some points.

I guess Massa is planning a similar strategy like the one Vettel and Button planed in China. If the hard tyres are better for him it was the right thing to do.We´ll see…

Force India seems strong however there is always something with them during the race. And the hard effort in Saturdays ends up being nothing on Sundays.

Interesting battles with Alonso and Vettel upfront and Lewis and Kimi battling between themselves and trying to climb positions at the same time


Good pole for Nico. It’s a shame it likely won’t count for much in the race. Looks like Alonso’s race to lose. We’ll see how far Kimi can come up.

Hard luck for Lewis, seeing as it was the tire fault that caused the gearbox failure. 5 grid spots look hefty, considering Webber’s penalty for screwing up Vergne’s race in China. I think 7th would be the best result possible for him.


By rule cars are not supossed to be touched on Saturdays. Changing a gearbox it is a change. The idea is to avoid some kind of adavantage among cars. I think it is different when a car is involved in an accident and it needs to be repaired. On Friday however they can make all the changes they want


I know I’m kind of banging my head against the wall here, but surely there should be a better way to handle gearbox and engine failures than to penalise the drivers?

Alexander Supertramp

Very draconian. But at least it’s the same for anyone, so that’s some sort of justice :D.


Never Never liked that gearbox penalties, really ridiculous. Agree the team should be fined, not the driver!


Yep a fine for the team was my first thought when I thought about it, but it wouldn’t work as Wanja just pointed out.

Possibly a points penalty for the team?


How would you fine a team? Some teams will happily accept a substantial fine, if they can take a pole position or race win. After all they’re spending some ten millions for finding a tenth of a second on the track.


When fernando is that close to the front already before the start it is hard not to think he is going to win. He is the best starter on the grid and other than kimi the next best on the tyres on Sundays so surely he has to start favourite for ye win. Also he is 8kms faster down the straights than vettel so if he has to overtake that will help. Fernando 1st Sebastian 2nd and anyone of 5 or 6 drivers for 3rd.


James, the official FIA website have Kimi starting p7. Who is right?


Penalties are applied in the order their are given.

Webber takes his penalty first, so drops to P8. Raikkonen stays behind him.

But Hamilton then takes his penalty and drops from 4th to 9th, which moves Webber up to 7th and Raikkonen up to 7th, as I see it


So you mean Webber up to 7th and Kimi up to 8th?


Agreed James. By my calculations it doesn’t matter which penalty is applied first, Webber is still seventh and Kimi still eighth. Sky got this wrong too, not sure why.

Tornillo Amarillo

Raikkonen 8th maybe?


Looking forward to seeing this one. Interesting to see a German front row and a Ferrari 2nd row with a Force India 3rd row. I like Alonso for this one but nothing would surprise me.


Well, I sure didn’t see that coming.

Good job by Rosberg for producing a perfect performance all weekend (at what was his debut track back in 2006), this is just what he needed to keep his morale against Lewis in check.

Yeah, the Mercedes is looking like a great qualifying car and remarkably, it’s just the 11th pole in the team’s history.

Not everyday do you hear Vettel say the other guy was faster so this creates an interesting scenario where he may not head first into the first bend and interestingly, Vettel has won roughly 3 races having not started from pole (one of those, it was due to the race leader retiring >>> Singapore 2012)

Now apart from Kimi, Alonso too didn’t perform to his maximum for not only did he flat spot his tyres but now, he’s racing a teammate who is on a better strategy as the Ferrari was better on the hard tyres.

It’s a shame about Lewis’ penalty but amazingly, he still qualifies in Q3. If I recall correctly, the last time Lewis begun in Q2 or lower was in the 2009 season.

Yes great effort by the Force India boys and it appears Di Resta wants to stamp his authority in the team early however, it’s worth remembering in the second half of seasons, that’s were he has lost out.

Jenson did well to make it to Q3 too and his celebration was quite amusing.

Last but not least, it’s sad that Maldonado has a poor car. It seems he can’t work a poor car and that’s why Rubens out performed him in 2011.


With the exception of 2004 (DNF) And 2009 (poor car), Kimi has finished on the podium in the Bahrain races he has participated in i.e. The iceman holds the record for most podium finishes >>> 5 in total.


Alonso didn’t flat spot the tyres that he’ll be starting on. He abandoned the lap on which he had that big lock-up. Apart from his starting set which did one lap in Q3, he’ll have 1 scrubbed set of Mediums from Q2, 2 new sets of Hards, 1 scrubbed set of Hards from Q1, and that flat-spotted Medium set.


Vettel won 6 races having not started from pole, not 3. As for winning races due to the race leader retiring, all top drivers have plenty of such wins, and Alonso probably most of all.


Alonso also got one because his teammate stuck his car into the wall deliberatly remember…


Exactly Alonso stole wins from Vettel at Bahrain 2010, Korea 2010 and Valencia 2012. But Seb will win this championship.


Qualifying is going to cost Kimi this season, should be starting much higher.

Hope Vettel can make a fight of it but fear Alonso will have the edge right from the lights as he’s starting on the clean side.

Looking forward to see what Hamilton can do from the 5th row, Rosberg needs to beat him tomorrow if he wants to establish himself as a contender for the title.


Great article, James, thank you.

Only Alonso wasn’t “unable” to beat the times of Rosberg and Vettel — he failed to do it, making obvious mistakes on his final lap. It should have been an easy pole for him. Disappointed.

Scuderia McLaren

Alonso is not a good qualifier. His outright pace and the pressure of 1 lap is his weakness. He is not fast.


Not only is Alonso a weak qualifier, Kimi is as well. At least if you compare Kimi and Alonso to qualifying specialists like Vettel and Hamilton. Or Senna and Mansell.

Val from montreal

Yup, reality is kicking in !

Hamilton never got outqualified by his teamates at Bahrain up until now .[mod]


Which reality is that, then? 🙂

You see that’s the trouble with posts like yours – they can quickly come back and bite you on the behind.

They’re both quick drivers, but one is a multiple race winner and world champion and the other is Nico .


Yeah, that 3-1 qualifying record sure is proof things are falling apart.


Let’s keep this nonsense off this site please.


Please stop bashing drivers. It annoys the readers and takes valuable time to moderate – Mod






Where where you last week [mod] and so what if Rosberg outqualified Hamilton ?..[mod]


My feeling is that Nico Rosberg really pushed the Mercedes in Bahrain. – I hope he can manitain the position in the race, but I suspect this could be another win for Alonso in his fast starting Ferrari. It’s a bit tough on Hamilton when the tyres are responsible for damaging his gearbox. Ludicrous things anyway!


Good job by Nico, finally carries his Q2 advantage over Hamilton into Q3.

What are Marussia at??

Bianchi out qualifies Chilton by 0.8 Aus, 1.2 Mal and 0.7 China and also the Caterhams at every track. Marussia put Bianchi on the back foot at a new circuit by making him miss the first session.

The result is he is just 0.2 ahead of Max AON Chilton and way behind one of the Caterhams and further of the midfield than usual. I know they need the money from sticking someone else in the car for a session but do they need it this much??


You’re right I noticed what happened at Marussia this weekend and the end result is Bianchi losing running time and got out qualified by Pic, it was a mistake letting the rookie use Jules’s car on friday, if they really needed for commercial reasons to run a rookie they should have used Chilton’s car lets face it Jules have been out performing the car and also the Caterhams.


They also had two fuel vapour fires today on Bianchi’s car

Tornillo Amarillo

I talked about Rosberg could be quicker than Hamilton and finally is clear in this qualify in Bahrain. Hopefully Nico can be rewarded his hard job with a podium finish here or P4.

And hopefully Hamilton can get at least P5 finish to achieve consistency and valuables 10 points, but it will be hard with Force India in the mix. I really would like Paul Di Resta fighting also for a podium finish or P4 and ahead of his teammate, finally showing his potential to everybody.

My guess/bet:

P1 Vettel

P2 Alonso

P3 Di Resta – do you agree?


I agree Nico Rosberg is a very underrated driver, but the reality is that he is very fast. On the other hand I don’t think Lewis Hamilton is settled in the car yet with the car not being quite to his liking, but Nico is has had a number of years to settle in at Mercedes. Personally I think Nico and Lewis are very closely matched.

Alexander Supertramp

And this is Bahrein, definitely not Lewis’ favorite track! But Nico was FAST!


Di Resta in P3 is an interesting one – do you him doing a two stopper and others a three stop race?

A Ferrari starting third with first dibs on Rosberg’s slipstream versus a Red Bull on the dirty side of the grid, to me suggests Alonso is the better bet to be ahead of Vettel by the end of turn 2.

I suspect the Red Bull has too much downforce for its tyres to cope, so it will fall back, but not as much as Rosberg.

A car and tyre performance bet might be:





F/India and Di Resta rarely move forward in races. I’d be surprised if they make top 5.


“Serves me right for making sweeping statements!”

It certainly does 🙂

Well, I think including DNFs is pretty unfair, but if you do it makes it 24 to 19 for di Resta.

Since 2011, Sutil has gone forwards 11 times and backwards/retired 12 times (including 4 retirements) and Hulkenberg went 13-7 (including 3 retirements). So overall they went 48-38 since 2011. Not to shabby if you ask me 🙂


Well of all di Resta’s races that he’s finished (including today), he’s finished ahead of his grid position 24 times and either matched or fallen backwards 15 times. So 62% he’s moved forwards in the race. Hardly rare 🙂


Alright, calm down Stato! Serves me right for making sweeping statements! Where on earth did you get those stats from? Here’s a challenge for you then. What about Sutil and the Hulk? What about if you include DNFs – surely that can be counted as going backwards?

Go back to 2011 and let me know the results – want to know if I’m as wrong as you make me out to be!


In the two races he’s finished this year di Resta has finished ahead of his grid position.


I said rarely not never :-). Very surprised that they made 4th today. Definitely wouldn’t have done so if Alonso hadn’t spent most of his time in the pits! AND it was a 4th place won due to grid penalties for others. Mind you, all credit to them for taking the opportunity.


If Hamilton wants to be in the top 5 he had better hope some of the front runners run into trouble, if not then he is racing the 2 force indias, Webber, Kimi and Massa and maybe even Jenson if his tyres hold up, if could beat all them then he should be in the top 5, won’t be a easy afternoon if the race runs normal in the first 20laps.

Bring Back Murray

P1 Alonso

P2 Vettel

P3 Hamilton


P1 Alonso

P2 Massa

P3 Vettel


Looking forward to Massa to come on top with a totally different strategy.


Well done Nico, showed your pace when it mattered which is rare, normally a choker in Q3, but don’t count out Vettel for the win even though Alonso has the best car overall where the balance between out right speed and tyre preservation seems spot on, maybe Kimi can spring a surprise or Nico might make it more of a fight we’ll see.


Great lap by rosberg, think it will be tough in the race , but merc really need to sort out ther reliability, to have 3 major faults and were only in the fourth race is really poor, if merc can keep up the pace for the next few months, this is really going to hurt lewis or nico when the opportunity for a win presents itself, alonso for the win..


I once heard it said that It’s easier to make a fast car reliable than a reliable car fast. I hope that Merc stay fast and get reliable. More teams at the top, the better.


Do you think Hulkenburg regrets his move now? He might become the next Nick Heidfeld…


In hindsight staying with FI might have been better, but it was a still a good decision at the time.

He’s doing a good job with Sauber – outperforming the car and most certainly outperforming Gutierrez – so I still think the future looks bright for him 🙂


No, for one thing he doesn´t have too much of a team mate.That´s always an advantage. He had lead races last year in Brazil and this season as well. In China he gave Vettel a hard time early in the race So he is showing his potential despite of the car. Big teams are keeping an eye on him. Later in the season if Sauber has some upgrades he might end up in the podium


Comparing Brazil to this year is a bit much, he hasn’t led a race on merit this year. And I wasn’t really questioning his talent as much as his career direction; unless he makes a move to one of the top 4/5 in the next one or two seasons (by then he’ll be 27/8) I fear he could be a nearly man.


Well I think it is a big merit to spend many laps ahead of Vettel. And about his career direction it is not only up to him. Unfortunately talent is not enough to move up. Drivers need sponsors. I wish Bianchi could be in a more competitive team also. But it is not up to me


I always think this: Hulkenberg, Sutil and Di Resta are all evenly matched, but many people seem to see this differently.

And the likes of Quick Nick and Bruno Senna normally showed really good race pace (and race craft) if not qualifying pace.


I really miss Bruno this year. He was steadily developing as a really good racecrafter…

Hope he will climb up to LMP1s and had a win on Le Mans sooner or later.

Glyn Taylor-Williams

Senna should have kept the seat, and thrown Maldonado out. It was a bit unfair as Senna was always on the back foot giving up valuable practice sessions to Bottas.


Maldonado really has gone AWOL this year, hard to believe he was a race winner and consistent Q3 driver last year.


Hi James,

Do you think Alonso could have taken pole today?




Possibly; he was fastest in FP3 and Q1. Thought Vettel might do it, to be honest. He probably should have done.

It was a very good lap by Rosberg


I’m a bit curious why those with a grid penalty didn’t set a time on the harder tyre. HAM for example would only have been one place back from where he will start tomorrow but would be on the more durable tyre….. Is it because he could not make the final stint work on the softer tyre or am I missing something?


ahh, of course, thank chaps. For some crazy reason I was thinking he could not be any lower than tenth!


I reckon the team thought there was more mileage in preserving the tyres for the race.


Because the harder tyre is slower. Your statement that Hamilton would only have been one place further back would be true only if he qualified P5. Don’t forget, the penalty can still put him out of the top ten.


Hi Wayne,

Before the start of Q3, we pretty much knew Button was out of contention in the slowest car with no soft tyres. So for Hamilton to run tyres he’s guaranteed ninth. Could he be certain of doing better? There was no way of knowing Massa would have run the hard tyres. Raikkonen would have been expected to do better. The team then needs to guess what times Force India might do. If you get it wrong, Hamilton is P9 and starting 14th.

The other question to consider is whether going Hard – Hard – Hard – Medium is any quicker than starting on the mediums. The track at the end may be better at the end, but the stint length may not be catastrophically short, unlike the soft tyres were in China. If you run off strategy to most of the grid you lose time being passed and passing people at different stages. If you run on the popular strategy you risk running in dirty air if your race pace is quicker than those around you.

Starting on the hards might get early race glory, but we haven’t seen it gain drivers much time overall. What has worked is saving a stop, but that doesn’t appear to be an option for Mercedes.




If he got pole he would have been 5th, better than 9th…


Well the thing to bear in mind is that Mercedes did a lot of work Saturday morning to bring the car back into it’s performance envelope for this race and it appears that they’ve done it. Mercedes problem though is going to be tyre degradation unless they’ve done something to lessen it. That all said it was a cracking lap from Nico Rosberg and thoroughly deserved pole.


Why Redbull wasn’t fast enough Alonso bottled under pressure but you seemed to dismiss that.


Yeah I agree he bottled it. He made two mistakes on that final qualifying lap. I don’t know why people keep saying “small” mistakes. Does he have to crash for a mistake to be not considered “small”.

He had the fastest car today, so it must be very disappointing for him since he can’t blame the team this year.


No understanding of alonso if you think that. Couldn’t see him bottling anything. He’s just s very intelligent racer and knows which battles to choose. I’m not an FA or Feerari fan…


Alonso did not bottle it

He made a mistake ripped his front left on the earlier corner and lost too much time

Could have made 2nd

But thought to stay third on the clean side

That’s called thinking not being scared

Great to see Rosberg on pole

Want. To see more of the same


He ‘bottled’ under pressure? Really? Alonso is a two time world champion and the most rounded driver on the grid by many accounts. He has one of the coolest heads in f1 and looks odds on for another race win. Yes he made a mistake and could have taken P1, but to say he ‘bottled’ it is harsh.


I do agree Redbull wasn’t fast enough and Seb did a good job to be on the front row but I also agree it wasn’t the best quali session by Vettel’s high standards but better job than Webber thats for sure. Alonso did mess the lap up at the end but lets be honest the Ferrari is the best allround package at the moment, fast on all tracks 1 lap or race pace, and for sure they have the best chance of winning tomorrow, I think the top 3 did a good job and its nicely poised.


‘Bottled under pressure’ is a big of a strong term; it was just a small mistake. P3 is much better than p2 here so he should be strong.

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