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Bahrain 2013 - Qualifying highlights - The fight for pole position sees a few surprises at Sakhir

Published by Christine

Sutil leaves the pits in China
Credit: James Moy

There was a lot of pressure on the qualifying session in Bahrain to restore our faith in Saturday action, after slow starts in China. With the sun beating down on the Bahrain International Circuit, and the wind slightly higher than expected, the action began with a slightly slow start to Q1, but it ramped up as the hour unfolded. The teams behaved themselves, and all ten cars made an appearance in the final session - if not all setting a time.

The shootout for pole position was exciting and unexpected, and you can relive the proceedings with this handy minute-by-minute Factbyte Factbox coverage.

As it happened: Bahrain 2013 - Qualifying

  • 11:30

    Hello and welcome to the Factbyte Factbox, it's almost time for qualifying in Bahrain!

  • 11:31

    Qualifying hasn't started yet and we already have three penalties affecting three drivers. Webber has a three place drop from China, and Gutiérrez a five place drop.

  • 11:31

    Lewis Hamilton has also incurred a five place drop from changing the gearbox, after a bit of a bumpy ride in final practice this morning.

  • 11:32

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: Lewis' gearbox will be changed before qualifying following the incident in P3... Lewis will incur a five-place grid penalty as a result

  • 11:33

    Hard and medium tyresLest we forget, Pirelli have brought the hard (orange) and medium (white) compounds to Bahrain. We were meant to be seeing the soft tyre, but they've adapted their plans and gone one step harder.

  • 11:34

    Last week, we saw an unusual qualifying with each and every session getting off to a slow start, and drivers opting to save rubber rather than set times in the final ten minutes. We'll be hoping for a bit more action today!

  • 11:34

    You can make your prediction on that, and who will take pole position right here:

  • 11:36
    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1F Massa1:34.487
    Free Practice 2K Räikkönen1:34.154
    Free Practice 3F Alonso1:33.247
  • 11:38

    QuoteChristian Horner: "The tyres are challenging, I think it's thermal degradation more than anything. You get to a point, then you get to this drop off. The tyre is trying to manage the tyre, it's the rear this weekend that is the critical tyre, that you're trying to look after.

    "I think this track, of all the tracks we go to, has the lowest delta for an overtake, therefore making it the easiest track to overtake on. With two DRS zones, grid position is not as valuable as it is somewhere like Monaco... Qualifying, obviously it's better to start in as clean air as you can, but there's not the premium on qualifying there was a year or two ago."

  • 11:39
    2013 Pole Positions
    1Sebastian Vettel2
    2Lewis Hamilton1
  • 11:45

    Force India have shown a bit of extra pace this weekend, Paul di Resta managed to finish fifth in both FP1 and 2, whilst the pair finished 7th and 8th in final practice today.

  • 11:48

    Pole position last year was Sebastian Vettel, in his Red Bull, with a 1:32.422.

  • 11:51

    We're at the point in the season where pie charts come into play. This one is most interesting at the moment - will it be evened up today?

    Qualifying Battle
    FerrariQualified Ahead
    F Massa2
    F Alonso1
  • 11:57



    Wind speed4.8mps
  • 11:57

    Qualifying just a few minutes away now, make your final predictions before the polls close!

  • 11:59

    Fernando Alonso is looking a little nervous in the garage, knees a twitching, running his hands across his mouth.

  • 11:59

    Team radioTeam radio to Giedo van der Garde: "Wind conditions similar to yesterday, which is head wind on the main straight... The wind intensity is a bit higher than this morning."

  • 12:00

    With the polls closed, 45% say Kimi Räikkönen for pole position. 60% believe everyone will set a lap time in the final ten minutes of qualifying.

  • 12:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 12:02

    A nice, predictably quiet start to the session, who will head out of their garage first?

  • 12:02

    Valtteri Bottas climbs into his car ahead of qualifying, via @WilliamsF1Team

  • 12:03

    Vettel isn't in his car yet, chatting to an engineer with one ear listening to the conversation, the other firmly with headphones on.

  • 12:04

    It's the Sauber drivers that break the silence, Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez heading out for an exploratory lap of the track.

  • 12:05

    The Toro Rosso boys join the fun, and Giedo van der Garde also emerges from the Caterham garage.

  • 12:06

    Hülkenberg crosses the line to start a flying lap, just as the Caterham exits the pit lane.

  • 12:07

    Hülkenberg finishes off his lap with that extended run down to the finish line, it's a 1:34.409 for the first time of the session. Gutiérrez follows behind about half a second slower.

  • 12:08

    As Vergne crosses the line to shave a tenth off Hulk's time, the rest of the field pour out of the pit lane to start their own qualifying campaign.

  • 12:09

    Now just the Red Bull and McLaren duo are left in the garage, along with Hamilton and Alonso.

  • 12:10

    Team radioTeam radio from Giedo van der Garde: "There's something in the cockpit, something moving between my legs, not very nice."

  • 12:10

    Nico Rosberg heads straight up to P1, lowering the times to 1:33.364. Grosjean crosses the line a tenth down for P2.

  • 12:11

    Replays show Kimi Räikkönen locking up into the first corner, and missing the apex completely. That's one lap ruined!

  • 12:11

    The Ferrari drivers have left the garage, whilst Vettel, Webber and Hamilton remain indoors.

  • 12:12

    Grosejan heads out for his first Q1 run, via @Lotus_F1Team

  • 12:12

    The McLaren drivers have headed out for their first laps, but they've opted to put on the medium tyres already - not much confidence of pace in this session!

  • 12:13

    Paul di Resta having a bit of a shout on the radio, unhappy with the communication from the pit wall. "It's not good enough," he storms.

  • 12:14

    Hamilton and Webber have both headed out, Lewis on the hard tyre, Mark on the mediums. Vettel finally appears, and he also has the medium compound bolted to the car.

  • 12:15

    Fernando Alonso has dropped the times to the 1:32s, jumping ahead of Nico Rosberg. Di Resta, despite his complaints, has slipped into fourth.

  • 12:16

    Button's first time puts him in eighth, just ahead of teammate Sergio Pérez. Webber crosses the line for seventh.

  • 12:17

    Team radioTeam radio from Jenson Button: "Little too much understeer in the car."

  • 12:18

    Hamilton's first lap time is a 1:51.104, which is 18 seconds off the pace. I'm thinking there was a problem in there somewhere.

  • 12:18

    So, with all drivers having set a time, the drop zone features Ricciardo, Pic, Bianchi, Chilton, Van der Garde, and Hamilton. Assuming Hamilton improves, it's Maldonado who is in trouble.

  • 12:19

    Hamilton's second lap sees him up to fifth place, and it is the Williams who is shoved into the drop zone.

  • 12:19

    He improves one place, to push down Esteban Gutiérrez.

  • 12:20

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 12:21

    Daniel Ricciardo improves to 12th, which means both Maldonado AND Gutiérrez are out.

  • 12:22
    Qualifying Position
    17P MaldonadoWilliams
    18E GutiérrezSauber
    19C PicCaterham
    20J BianchiMarussia
    21G van der GardeCaterham
    22M ChiltonMarussia
  • 12:23

    Really good lap from Pic, he beat the highly-rated Bianchi and his own teammate by a second.

  • 12:24

    Here's a visual representation of the backmarker qualifying position:

    Gap Analysis
  • 12:25

    TweetTweet from @Marussia_F1Team: P20 BIA & P22 CHI is how we end another tough day for us at this particular circuit

  • 12:26

    Gutiérrez's five place grid penalty means he will be last on the grid tomorrow.

  • 12:27

    Fernando Alonso was fastest in that first session, just ahead of Vettel and then Rosberg.

  • 12:28

    Williams note that both their drivers set exactly the same lap time, but as Valtteri Bottas set his time first, he got through to Q2, whilst his teammate did not.

  • 12:28

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 12:28

    The world feed shows fire extinguisher foam covering Jules Bianchi's car, we don't know exactly what's happened but I would guess... a fire.

  • 12:29

    The Red Bull drivers are out early in this session, both Webber and Vettel out on the medium compounds.

  • 12:29

    Nico Hülkenberg and Jean-Éric Vergne both join the circuit, also on used mediums.

  • 12:32

    More drivers heading out of the garage, now we have just three waiting for the opportune moment - Grosjean and the two Mercedes.

  • 12:32

    Webber's first time of the session a 1:33.907, but he's immediately beaten by Sebastian Vettel, who chops nearly half a second off the time.

  • 12:34

    Kimi Räikkönen is wrestling his car around the track, the Lotus not looking at all comfortable on the Bahrain track. However, he manages to post the fourth fastest time.

  • 12:34

    Paul di Resta jumps up to first with an impressive 1:33.335.

  • 12:35

    Grosjean still has not left the garage, as the rest of the field set their times for the session. Alonso jumps up to P1, but it is close at the top.

  • 12:37

    Five minutes remaining, Romain finally leaves the garages, and the two Mercedes drivers get set to post their first times of the session.

  • 12:38

    Hamilton goes third fastest, as Rosberg follows behind and jumps up to P1 with a 1:32.867.

  • 12:39

    Mark Webber has gone out on a fresh set of medium tyres, hoping for some extra pace as he gradually drops down from sixth to eighth.

  • 12:40

    Grosjean's first time sees him seventh fastest, beating Räikkönen who is just emerging from the garage after a brief return.

  • 12:40

    At the top, Rosberg, Alonso, Di Resta and Hamilton are back in their garages and happy with their times.

  • 12:40

    Two minutes on the clock, and the fight is on to get into the top ten.

  • 12:41

    Mark Webber completes another flying lap, after hitting a couple of kerbs, and improves to second.

  • 12:42

    Button backs off around the final corner, trying to make some space to the car in front of him. He's off and on his final flying lap of the session.

  • 12:42

    The drop zone currently features Sutil, Button, Pérez, Hülkenberg, Bottas and Vergne.

  • 12:42

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 12:43

    Grosjean is in the pits, currently eighth, so if there are improvements below him, he could be pushed down into the danger zone.

  • 12:43

    Sutil improves to sixth fastest, Button and Räikkönen both improve - Jenson ninth, and Kimi up to fourth. That sees Romain out.

  • 12:45
    Qualifying Position
    11R GrosjeanLotus
    12S PérezMcLaren
    13D RicciardoToro Rosso
    14N HülkenbergSauber
    15V BottasWilliams
    16JE VergneToro Rosso
  • 12:46

    Fastest in that session, Vettel, Rosberg and then Webber.

  • 12:47
    Field Spread
    1stS Vettel1:32.746
    16thJE Vergne1:34.284
  • 12:49

    @Lotus_F1Team: Wheeling back @RGrosjean - whilst he was coming back from the bridge, he got bumped to P11.

  • 12:51

    Eric Boullier, team principal at Lotus, asked who he thinks will be on pole and he said between Alonso, Vettel and Räikkönen.

  • 12:51

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 12:51

    Cars head out early again for the final session, Alonso, Di Resta and both Mercedes drivers are out on the medium tyres.

  • 12:53

    QuoteRomain Grosjean: "Everybody got two runs in Q2, I got one. We wanted to be brave. That's it."

  • 12:54

    Paul di Resta crosses the line for the first flying lap, a 1:33.388 - he's immediately beaten by Rosberg, who is down into the 1:32s again.

  • 12:54

    Alonso slips into second, and Hamilton behind the Ferrari.

  • 12:56

    Sutil, having circled the track once on the hard tyres, has the orange sidewalls taken off his car without setting any time.

  • 12:56

    Four drivers have lap times, and it's that moment of quiet before the final shootout for pole. Many drivers leaving it for one attempt.

  • 12:57

    Webber breaks cover first for this final run of laps, three minutes left on the clock.

  • 12:58

    The rest of the top ten join the fun, except for Jenson Button. Felipe Massa has gone on the orange tyre.

  • 12:58

    Button joins the fun. Nine cars on medium tyres, Massa the only one to try the orange ones.

  • 12:59

    This is a positively busy session with all ten cars on track, China long since forgotten.

  • 13:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 13:00

    Webber will cross the line first, all eyes on the Red Bull as he makes his way round the final corner.

  • 13:00

    It's fourth fastest for the Australian, and he will have a three place drop from there too.

  • 13:01

    Räikkönen down in sixth, pushed down to seventh. Di Resta up to fifth, as Rosberg remains on pole position. Vettel can't beat it!

  • 13:02

    Alonso makes a mistake on his lap, and abandons the lap, heading into the pit lane. He is P3 anyway.

  • 13:02

    The other penalty-taker, Lewis Hamilton, is fourth, but will drop five places.

  • 13:04
    Qualifying Position
    1N RosbergMercedes
    2S VettelRed Bull
    3F AlonsoFerrari
    4L HamiltonMcLaren
    5M WebberRed Bull
    6F MassaFerrari
    7P di RestaForce India
    8A SutilForce India
    9K RäikkönenLotus
    10J ButtonMcLaren
  • 13:04

    Button didn't set a time in the end, he abandoned his lap.

  • 13:05
    Gap Analysis
  • 13:06

    With the benefit of penalties, Paul di Resta moves up to fifth and Adrian Sutil sixth, which is a great position for the Force India.

  • 13:08

    QuoteRoss Brawn: "If I'm honest, we struggled a bit yesterday, and we didn't quite have things right. it's a bit cooler today, that will be a concern for tomorrow. It did build, we could see Nico gradually getting there. We had some car issues which didn't help, yesterday and today, but great job by Nico. Really great job.

    "It was tight, I think on that last run, Nico didn't push so hard in S1 and picked up a lot of time in S2, he put a great lap together."

  • 13:08

    Notably, Eric Boullier predicted earlier that pole would be fought by Vettel, Alonso or his own driver. No mention of the Mercedes, I think it was a surprise to everyone!

  • 13:10

    QuotePaul di Resta: "Starting where we are is obviously great, but we were looking quite rosy in the session and as the track's gripped up we've not got much performance... the car got quite difficult but we take where we are and our race performance yesterday was very strong in the long run.

    "I've been having some issues with radio this weekend... when they're telling you stuff and it's not working, it gets quite heated..."

  • 13:12
    Inter-Team Battle
    N Hülkenberg14th
    E Gutiérrez18th
  • 13:14

    The best way to outqualify your teammate finally is pole position!

    Qualifying Battle
    MercedesQualified Ahead
    L Hamilton3
    N Rosberg1
  • 13:17

    QuotePress Conference Quotes - Nico Rosberg: "It wasn't really clear before who was the quickest car, especially over one lap. I was close this morning already, so I was bit more happy than yesterday... Really, really happy. That's a fantastic result. For tomorrow, and of course tomorrow is going to be a tough race, with tyre degradation especially."

  • 13:18

    QuotePress Conference Quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "Definitely not disappointed. Congratulations to Nico, he put a very strong lap in, it was all his today. Initially when I crossed the line, I saw I didn't go first... I didn't know how much was missing because the lap was fine, you always find a little bit here and there, but when I got told the gap to P1, it was clear that even with a perfect lap he was unbeatable today. But nevertheless, very happy. We managed to save some tyres throughout qualifying... we'll see what happens, but it's good to start from the front."

  • 13:19

    QuotePress Conference Quotes - Fernando Alonso: "We tried to complete the second lap, until the last corner, I saw half a tenth, one tenth slower on the previous lap, so we decided to come in and save one lap on those tyres. Very happy with third place, normally in qualifying we're struggling a lot... this puts us in a strong position to start tomorrow's race with the leaders, and fight for the podium tomorrow."

  • 13:19

    QuotePress Conference Quotes - Nico Rosberg: "I really want to kick-start my season now, it's been a rough ride in the first three races... I'm okay for the race, tomorrow. For sure, competition is going to be tough, definitely. Difficult to say if we have enough pace to win the race tomorrow, but we're going to try and I look forward to starting first, definitely."

  • 13:21

    A great qualifying, nice to see another face on pole, and with all the chopping and changing for tomorrow's grid, it should set up a fascinating race.

  • 13:21

    The Force India boys have a great position to start from, whilst the drivers at Lotus find themselves with a bit of work to do tomorrow.

  • 13:22

    Jenson Button clearly didn't expect a huge amount of pace in the final qualifying session, but from tenth on the grid, he may be able to make progress tomorrow.

  • 13:23

    It will be interesting to see how Felipe Massa's strategy plays out, as he is the only driver in the top ten to start the race on the hard compound. If he can get through the first laps cleanly, he may make positive moves forward during the first stint.

  • 13:23

    Join me again tomorrow when we find out all that is going to occur during the Bahrain Grand Prix. It's going to be a good one!

All content in the series Bahrain 2013