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Rosberg Beats Hamilton To Bahrain Pole
Posted By:   |  05 Apr 2014   |  5:48 pm GMT  |  383 comments

Nico Rosberg headed Lewis Hamilton to give Mercedes its first front-row lock out of 2014 by dominating qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, eclipsing the remainder of the field by 0.9s. Daniel Ricciardo came closest to the Mercedes pair but will drop to 13th for tomorrow’s race due the penalty received in Malaysia for an unsafe release.

On the weekend of his 150th Grand Prix start, it was Rosberg’s fifth career pole, the German equalling the tally of his 1982 World Championship winning father, Keke.

After establishing a comfortable margin throughout the weekend, qualifying saw little change as the duo completed the first phase of qualifying without using a set of the soft option tyres before showing their true pace in Q2.

Rosberg’s benchmark time was a tenth of a second faster than Hamilton could manage, with the rest of the field 0.8s adrift, and it set up a fascinating in-team battle between the two childhood friends.

As the final 12-minute session began Rosberg was once again able to hold the provisional bragging rights, setting a time of 1:33.185 to hold a 0.3s margin over Hamilton. When the cars emerged for their second effort, a slow first sector by Rosberg all but ended his chances and the pressure was now on Hamilton to maintain his 100 per cent pole record of 2014.

However, entering the Michael Schumacher turn, Hamilton suffered a huge lock-up. The mistake put an end to his pole attempt at the earliest point and thus Rosberg took his second consecutive pole at the Sakhir circuit.

The third place start had a number of challengers, with the Williams, Force India and Ferrari pairs joining Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo as contenders for best of the rest. Ricciardo, after setting the third quickest time in Q2 was able to hold his position, starting in the top three for the second time this year and leading Vettel, who was unable to reach the top-10 shootout, in the team-qualifying battle.

The Australian will take a 10-place grid penalty tomorrow for his botched pit-stop last time out in Malaysia and will therefore hand the second row to Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez.

Bottas, enjoying a dry qualifying session for the first time this year, was able to make the most of his Mercedes-powered machine to take the second highest start of his career.

Perez has had a difficult start to his Force India career, due in part to Nico Hulkenberg’s impressive form. However, Perez was the quicker man today, taking fourth place with Hulkenberg only managing 12th.

It was a similar story at Ferrari, where Kimi Raikkonen has laboured in the shadow of Fernando Alonso in the first two races of the season but today he was able to take sixth place, fifth with Ricciardo’s penalty, whilst Alonso could only manage 10th, to become ninth. He said afterwards that he was losing power as the session went on. He set his fastest speed trap time in Q1, which was only 16th fastest, albeit only 1km/h slower than Raikkonen.

But unlike the Finn who improved by 6/10ths from Q2 to Q3, Alonso was 2/10ths slower. This will be a disappointment for Ferrari; they had a quick car in similar conditions on Friday night.

Raikkonen will be joined on the third row by Jenson Button, the McLaren driver celebrating his 250th Grand Prix start by getting within 0.15s of third placed Bottas.

Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Qualifying

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m33.185s
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m33.464s +0.279s
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m34.051s +0.866s
4. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m34.247s +1.062s
5. Sergio Perez Force India 1m34.346s +1.161s
6. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m34.368s +1.183s
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1m34.387s +1.202s
8. Felipe Massa Williams 1m34.511s +1.326s
9. Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1m34.712s +1.527s
10. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m34.992s +1.807s
11. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m34.985s +1.277s
12. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m35.116s +1.408s
13. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1m35.145s +1.437s
14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m35.286s +1.578s
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m35.891s +2.183s
16. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m35.908s +2.200s
17. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1m36.663s +1.789s
18. Adrian Sutil Sauber 1m36.840s +1.966s
19. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1m37.085s +2.211s
20. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m37.310s +2.436s
21. Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1m37.875s +3.001s
22. Max Chilton Marussia 1m37.913s +3.039s

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Awesome win, medium tires beating Rosberg on soft?


The first two corners should be fun. There might be some bowling going on.


Just like last week when people were claiming Rossberg’s confidence was destroyed by LH, a lot of poster’s are digging Alonso’s grave because he was outqulified by Kimi. Do you honestly think Kimi wasn’t going to win a pole all year?

Whether he had a bad lap or trouble with the car doesn’t matter, points aren’t earned qualifying but on Sunday.

Alonso isn’t a great qualifier we all know that? His peers regard him as one of if not the best but what do they know?


Mark struggled using the counter-intuitive blown diffuser concept, which Seb adapted to, hence why he struggled throughout the slower corners and in particular tracks like Bahrain, Abu Dhabi etc. That’s why he was also handy at tracks like Silverstone, Malaysia etc.

It’s also why he was very competitive in early-mid 2010 (exhaust blowing was a big thing then)and early 2012 (the ban of off throttle blowing hurt RB’s rear end grip).


Massive Hamilton fan but I didn’t believe the hype when he blew Rosberg away last week! There’s nothing to chose between them speed wise, Rosberg has still got to be favourite for the title if the car stays this dominant throughout the season.


It’s interesting that we never see “Hamilton BEATS Rosberg” headlines in the British media, when Lewis has done so.

Interesting indeed James. ……


There is something very-very-very wrong with you….sorry to say it….

Everything must always go your way, right?


So what happen, slipped up ?




I think someone is making his first attempt at irony 😉



The BBC have his pole lap up,

He never uses 8th gear or as far as I could see more than 13,000 RPM

16 seconds in he hits 325KM/H /200MPH in 7th gear with 11,500 RPM showing. (With DRS open)

I know these engines don’t need to run at their maximum revs, and the maximum power is limited by fuel flow. (I’m still getting my head round the MGU on the turbo, which can be a brake, and effectively a supercharger, the need to limit fuel flow is from a desire to prevent insane levels of turbo boost being used for short periods – I think they can explode the same about of fuel at 10K RPM as they can at 15K but at 15K there is more loss to friction in the engine).

I wonder what speed they can manage on a low downforce circuit. They must expect to use 8th gear *somewhere* this year. I seem to remember DC getting over 350K at the old Hockenheim with the help of a slipstream.


Wait ’til Monza 😉


Well, Ferrari is not confirming that Alonso was losing power. To be honest they are not talking about any technical problems on Alonso’s car on they website.

“As for the Spaniard, he looked on the pace in the first two session, but did not get the most out of the car in the final part and had to settle for tenth place with aq 1.34.992.”

– See more at:

Neither Pat Fry was mentionig any technical problems on Alonso’s car on his quote after quali.

German Samurai

Alonso fluffed qualifying.

Haven’t you guys noticed he’s not a flash qualifier after all this time.

Blew it last year too in Bahrain locking his left tyre going into turn 10 in his final qualifying lap.

22 poles out of 220 races is not a good return for a guy who has had great cars throughout his career.


I notticed it too, but you don’t need them to confirm anything. The times are there to watch, right from his firs lap in Q2. It is not just the odd lap, it was three laps with a considerable deep of his times! Alonso said they didn’t know what it was. Probably the team is protecting something or are not sure what the problem was.


Webber is/was a better driver than Rosberg and beaten every team mate up til Seb, Ricciardo has the same problem Webber had and that’s average race pace and lack of true consistency but when they’re on it over 1 lap they’re both as fast as anyone, sure Redbull overall had the fastest car last year but nowhere near the dominance of this Mercedes, Renault still seems to be scratching their heads and the Merc domination will continue until at least mid season by which point the titles would be sealed and Merc might even have the advantage the whole season which will make this season like 1988 all over again.


rosberg wins when his car is capable of winning. webber stood by and watched vettel win 9 races in a row and he did not a thing about it. al he did was complain that vettel didn’t gift him one.


Average race pace?? he’s had 2 races in a half decent car, finished in 2nd on one occasion and was running a comfortable 4th in the other.

His disadvantage the past 2 seasons is he put the Torro Rosso high up on the grid where it didn’t belong on many occasions so when it came to the race the far better race cars he qualified higher then were able to pass making it look like he wasn’t as good a racer. Nothing to do with his ability, but the car simply wasn’t good enough.


Hi James,

I am a big fan of Ferrari and especially Fernando i would like to hear from you want actually Ferrari is lagging and how then can or can they now really get on top of their issues. I know that they are missing the straight line speed so how can they improve. and i have heard that Ferrari was worked hard on the aero package this year so do the Ferrari has improved their downforce level of the car or its still the same. What about the traction coming out off the corner`s. had they improved ? overall i would like to know in which areas the car has improved and still lagging behind. and can anyone challenge the Mercs. i only see the Redbull having that potential but still it will take sometime.


With all due respect if James could answer all of it the he must immediately get job at SF sorting out Scuderia and making us all proud of team that we support. I am afraid this season is over.


Ferrari is not far from red bull one lap pace, with a similqr performance of the engine. So the main problem is clearly the engine! Amazing that when they finaly have a decent chassis they are let down by the engine. It is a nightmare for Ferrari!


Why is ricciardo having a penalty this weekend? Once he already had a penalty last weekend? So he is taking 2 penalty for the unsafe release?


It is ridiculous, what those regulations are meant for. It was teams fault so they should pay the fine and that is. It wasn’t drivers error. So crazy.


I don’t agree with it, but that’s what they’re doing now:

Automatic drive through followed by automatic grid drop – no questions, no arguments.


Let’s hope kimi converts this qualifying result in a podium finish, that is if he’s not taken out by wheel to wheel racing.


They were very closely matched, but Mark could never seem to get comfortable with changes like the Pirelli’s and blown exhausts.

And sorry for rehashing it, but Mark still did beat him on Top Gear in equal machinery 😉


vettel won 13 races and webber was upset with vettel because he refuse to gift him a win. if that is not thrashing, i don’t know what is.


Did I mention Mark beat Vettel on Top Gear?


Yes 2013 was a thrashing, no argument, even if Mark did find himself racing on three wheels once or twice.


Great quali by Nico- obviously every driver finds form at certain tracks they like. Fantastic effort by Ricciardo probably best in Sat. 6/10 improvement from q2 to q1 for Raikkonen- but he was fighting the car the whole lap he cant do that on Sund.

I really hope there is no incidents at the first turn on Sunday- there are many lead drivers out of position and a couple on the ascendancy ( Bottas Perez).

Fernando wont stay 9th even for 1 corner, Seb will make a move. Dan isnt usually very good at starts (last week excepted) – expect him to get swallowed up- maybe even by Kimi- the ferrari start system is brilliant.

If there are no dramas I think Hamilton will win with a


James, there was a tweet shared by @LorenzoDL83 mentioning the following radio conversation from Alonso at some point in the weekend so far probably on Friday not sure.

“The only thing I want to know is this. where is the savior of the country(Raikkonen), what advantage I have over him?”

Do you think this really happened? Can you confirm on that?


James, what is with the fresh reports of Alonso going to Woking and Mclaren tweeting a photo of Ron-Alonso in 2007?

Any credibility to that story?


McLaren tweeted a photo of Ron and Alo in Bahrain from 2007

I don’t think Alo wants to work with him again even if Ron can imagine it


Yeah, he might change his mind if Mclaren can convince him that Ron would not be a part of day to day running or if Ross, by some miracle, joins Woking.


Or if they can convince him they can give him a championship winning car, because let’s face it – Ferrari have failed to deliver.


I like the grid line up for Bahrain especially when the top guys are not really at the front except Lewis and Nico.

Such a pity for Ric, but my respect for him grows with each race, let’s see how far he can claw back from 13th.

Well at least we’re having a good fight between Lewis and Nico then the rest. Look forward to the race tonight.


The difference with Ricciardo is, is that he is enjoying himself. All the other blokes (mercs exempt) are scrapping away and don’t have a good feel about the car. Dan has never been in a Top Shelf team, he can see the positives, and not focusing on negatives. I expect a blistering start, probably make up 2-3 places on first lap with an aggressive race strategy to bring him home 4th or 5th whilst battling tyre issues in the last 5 laps or so.


F1 cars being what they are these days depend on perfect set up for outright speed, and Hamilton knew he was up against it for pole because he was not as comfortable in the car during qualifying as he was in practice. His body language gave it away. I expect this is how it will go throughout the season seesawing between the two Mercedes drivers, but give Rosberg his due in that he worked hard at it to achieve the result. That being the case one would expect Rosberg to dominate in the race, but of course anything can happen. Good to see Williams up there, and Bottas is a force to be reckoned with as Massa is finding out. Excellent performance from Ricciardo, pity about the penalty as he deserves better.


You’ll get many different opinions on the quality of drivers. Even if you look at lower classes where the chassis are all the same, how a driver works with the race engineers makes a big difference to how well a driver goes.

Different drivers have different skills. Adrian Newey noted that Webber had exceptional sensitivity for downforce levels and this made him exceptionally good in fast corners, something Mark Hughes noted on a few occasions. He didn’t have as great a feel for the mechanical grip levels and this is a key area that Vettel was using to great effect with managing the Pirelli tyres.

Being a heavier driver he had a weight distribution and centre of gravity disadvantage even when the cars weighed the same amount. Stronger drivers have an advantage in being able to brake slightly later when the cars are stopping from more than 300 km/h, but with the current tyres that quickly wears them out, so the advantage is negated.

Being comfortable with a car is key to a driver getting close to the maximum possible out of a qualifying lap. The drivers are anticipating the grip levels and the wind effects. If your car is not predictable, such as how it down shifts then the cost of errors tends to be greater. We saw with Vettel in early 2012 that when the aerodynamic tunnels were not working properly that Webber’s greater aerodynamic feel would give him an edge in qualifying, but in the races Vettel was generally faster.

If you were to take Ricciardo – he was under contract with Red Bull anyway – but we didn’t see any talk about other teams wanting him. Yet Red Bull picked him over Kimi on performance grounds. Not many observers agreed with that. Terms were used such as “potential to grow”. But you look at it now and it doesn’t seem so silly an idea. You get comments about Kimi being the fastest in F1 at times. Now in a 2005 McLaren that suited his style he was quick. We now get comments about how Kimi has lost 0.2 from his prime. There’s no way an external observer can judge that. To spot 0.01 of a second in a corner is not possible, especially with different cars 5-10 years apart. Drivers can look smooth, but that isn’t always fast.

Trying to assess drivers analytically takes a lot of effort. Even the teams struggle with it, as McLaren’s lack of success with Perez showed. Whether we mark a driver up or a team mate down in our heads varies from person to person.

If you were to take the top drivers in F1 – especially those who all weigh about the same – Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Bottas, Massa, (I’m excluding Butotn and the Hulk do to weight), then on a high quality qualifying lap they are all going to do about the same time – within two tenths of the car’s potential. How often they do it marks out the ones we think of as really quick (Vettel and Hamilton generally at the moment). In a race stint the differences become much more apparent.

My $0.02 worth anyway.


Interesting and thoughtful post Martin


Great effort Daniel. Shame about the penalty


Are those the only two options?


Amazing that only three races in the teams are all running so much more reliably, even lotus!

James two questions;

Have you got a table of how the teams are getting through their allocation of power pack components?

Will you have time to do any podcasts this year? The ones from last year were brilliant – great information, analysis, interviews, contributors, the best informed F1 podcasts I”ve come across.


The Toro Rossos, Red Bulls are on second power unit, so is Kobayashi

Maybe one other I’d have to check

No plans to do podcasts as things stand.


You have to be kidding!!! If Mark was/is not much of a driver, Red Bull would have dropped him long ago, or not given him a drive in the first place. Porsche would not have grabbed him to head up their team, if they were not convinced he was the best man for the job. Contrary to the opinions of some boofheads, team principals are not stupid people.


Kimi came out with 2 bad races due to problems and now it’s Alonso’s turn to have problems. . It wasn’t as if Kimi was a slouch, and neither is Alonso. Don’t think the bashings should go any farther really, time will tell all

Sure hope that “the rest” pick up later on this year for the fight at the front or we’ll be watching the back of the pack for any sort excitement….unfortunately, it doesn’t look too promising now does it, Mercedes is cleaning house.

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