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Qualifying highlights - Bahrain 2014 - Williams surge forwards as Mercedes dominate in the desert

Published by Christine

Bottas exits the pits in Bahrain
Credit: Glenn Dunbar/Williams F1

Many of the drivers have pointed to how difficult the sessions were on Saturday in Bahrain, as the practices were completed in the heat of daytime, and the grid was decided in the night race conditions. With differing temperatures, setups were hard, but we saw drivers really pushing their cars hard as they looked to get the best start position on Sunday.

It was all about Mercedes, as always, but even within that team there was a great fight for pole position. Behind them, the inter-team battles started to heat up, particularly at Ferrari and Williams, who had all four drivers in the top ten.

If you missed any of the qualifying action or want a reminder of one specific part, relive the sessions in Bahrain with this Factbyte Factbox replay.

As it happened: Bahrain 2014 - Qualifying

Event Highlights

  • Nico Rosberg takes pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo.
  • Valtteri Bottas takes an effective third on the grid after Ricciardo's ten place drop.
  • Sebastian Vettel misses out on the top ten after just one lap in the second session.
  • Pastor Maldonado and Adrian Sutil drop out in Q1, with the stewards interested in Sutil for impeding.
  • 15:30

    Hello you fabulous fact fiends, how have you been? It's only been a short few days since we were here discussing the Malaysian Grand Prix, and it's time already to turn our attention back to Formula One.

  • 15:30

    This weekend, the paddock are in Bahrain, faced with a dusty track and the change from a day event to a night race.

  • 15:31

    So far in the free practice sessions, Lewis Hamilton has led the way, dominating all three sessions with the fastest time.

  • 15:31

    In final practice, just a couple of hours ago, Sebastian Vettel spun off track and ended up in the gravel, whilst Sergio Pérez surprised with the third fastest time for Force India.

  • 15:32

    Daniel Ricciardo is facing a ten place grid penalty on top of wherever he qualifies today, after an unsafe release during the Malaysian Grand Prix. That puts his weekend on a bit of a downer before it starts, but it also gives us the chance to relish a fightback through the field tomorrow.

  • 15:34

    Williams have also shown good pace again this weekend. Where they have experienced some bad luck with the conditions or with being knocked out of races by other drivers, the team are hoping that Bahrain can be a representative race. Hopefully they won't need to use team orders either, but before all that, they'll want to get the best out of qualifying.

  • 15:35
    Factbyte Factbox image

    The tyres on offer this weekend are the medium (white sidewalls) and soft (yellow sidewalls), the same as in Australia. So far this weekend, we have seen the softer compound occasionally faster than the harder, and we've also spotted Fernando Alonso leaving his pit box with a mixture of both! (He was quickly recalled to the garage.)

  • 15:39

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: Stunning golden sunset as the lights flicker on here @BAH_Int_Circuit: just 20mins until the quali showdown begins...

  • 15:40

    Not only has Hamilton led all three sessions here in Bahrain this weekend, he's also scooped both the available pole positions this year. Will he add a third to his tally today, as the first Pole Trophy season continues?

  • 15:43

    We saw a couple of drivers catching some big air during practice, as they hit the kerbs and found all four wheels off the ground. Both Kimi Räikkönen and Pastor Maldonado sustained damage to the cars after their respective incidents, and the FIA have modified the kerbing at Turn 4 to hopefully stop it happening again.

  • 15:47

    Nico Rosberg was given a reprimand after the second practice session with the reason given: The driver slowed unnecessarily and recklessly in front of car 11 (Pérez) between Turns 13 and 14. It's his first reprimand of the season, but doesn't come with a penalty for this weekend.

  • 15:49

    Last year's pole position was set by Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, and for comparison, the time was 1:32.330.

  • 15:53
    Braking Analysis
    End of start/finish straight, turn 1
    (forecast data from Brembo)
    Initial speed319km/h
    Final speed60km/h
    Stopping distance137m
    Braking time2.89s
    Maximum deceleration5.0g
    Maximum pedal load119kg
    Braking power1940kw
  • 15:56

    Weather icon

    Wind speed4.7mps
  • 15:57

    Technically the sun is still setting over the track, but the floodlighting is on and I say that's a good enough reason to break out the moon graphic.

  • 15:58

    Fernando Alonso is making the final preparations in the garage, tucking his earpieces securely in before the helmet goes on. Meanwhile, Jenson Button is already suited and booted, sitting in the car and getting in the zone.

  • 16:00

    A handful of anniversaries being celebrated this weekend. Jenson Button's 250th Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg and Toro Rosso's 150th, whilst it's the tenth running of the Bahrain race itself.

  • 16:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 16:00
    Kamui in qualifying
    Credit: Twitter/CaterhamF1

    @CaterhamF1: Kamui Kobayashi is ready to go

  • 16:01

    Esteban Gutiérrez exits the pit lane and heads out on track, the Sauber driver the first to venture out but soon joined by Sergio Pérez in the Force India.

  • 16:02

    Six drivers are out early, with Romain Grosjean on the softer compound and the rest on the mediums. It's early days to be opting for the softer tyre, unless that really is the preferred compound this weekend.

  • 16:03

    Gutiérrez crosses the line to start his first lap time of the session, he navigates the first sector and on through the winding second sector.

  • 16:04

    A handful more drivers have exited the pit lane, doubling the number of cars on track. Those feeling slightly more secure and/or lazy include Mercedes, Williams and McLaren.

  • 16:05

    It's a 1:38.521 for Gutiérrez who is immediately knocked off the top spot by Sergio Pérez. Vergne splits the pair as the first benchmarks start to pour in.

  • 16:05

    Nico Hülkenberg tops all of them with a 1:36.883, and Grosjean and Kvyat settle in behind the Force India on the timesheets.

  • 16:06

    Daniel Ricciardo heads out for his first attempt and has to navigate some slower cars as he starts his flying lap.

  • 16:07

    With just over 11 minutes left of the session, most drivers have been out on track at least once, whilst the two Williams drivers continue to wait it out.

  • 16:07

    Replays show Marcus Ericsson with a huge lock-up into the first corner, tyre smoke pouring from the rubber as he continues on his way.

  • 16:08

    Ricciardo pops up in P1 with a 1:36.6, and Fernando Alonso is just a tenth of a second behind him in second.

  • 16:08

    Front runners Hamilton and Rosberg are both on their first laps of the session, and both looking very strong.

  • 16:09

    Rosberg is briefly in P1 before Hamilton crosses the line behind him and nabs the top spot with a 1:35.323.

  • 16:11

    Still no sign of Williams, so they both remain in the drop zone for now. Also struggling, Chilton, Gutiérrez, Maldonado, and Ericsson.

  • 16:11

    The track is falling quiet now, as the first batch of laps are complete and drivers return to the garage for a change of tyre, and perhaps a pep talk.

  • 16:12

    It's clear the times are dropping as the track continues to clear up, as Gutiérrez improves to P3, although still a second off the times of those Mercedes pair.

  • 16:13

    Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finally break cover and head out for the first time this session. Soft tyres on both the cars, as they have a quiet track alongside just Pérez, Hülkenberg and Button.

  • 16:14

    Rob Smedley watches on from the Williams pit wall as the duo cross the line to start their first laps. It's his first weekend with the team, and he's got quite the beard on him.

  • 16:14

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: Time to take those soft tyres out of their blankets - the Hulk & Checo take to the track in this order for one last run in Q1

  • 16:16

    Bottas jumps up to P1 with his first lap time of the day, immediately dropped by Nico Hülkenberg. Pérez and Massa move up to third and fourth respectively.

  • 16:16

    The drop zone now features Räikkönen, Bianchi, Vergne, Chilton, Maldonado and Ericsson.

  • 16:16

    Kimi Räikkönen needs to get a wriggle on.

  • 16:17

    All drivers are out on track now barring the Mercedes pair.

  • 16:17
    Grosjean in the garage

    @Lotus_F1Team: Grosjean poised and waiting for the next assault

  • 16:17

    Kevin Magnussen got called to the weigh bridge a couple of minutes ago, so the mechanics had to scrabble to get him turned around in time to head back out for another lap.

  • 16:18

    Räikkönen improves up to fifth place, with Daniil Kvyat also jumping up to seventh. Kevin Magnussen drops into the bottom six.

  • 16:18

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 16:19

    Bianchi crosses the line for 16th place, he won't keep it but impressive time for the Marussia driver.

  • 16:19

    Magnussen hauls himself out of trouble by improving to seventh place. Bianchi back in the drop zone again.

  • 16:20

    Grosjean squeezes out of the drop zone by taking 16th place by a minuscule amount and dropping his own teammate into the bottom six. Oops! Replays show the Frenchman had to wind his way past a Sauber during the session, losing a tenth or two along the way.

  • 16:21

    The top three in that session were Nico Hülkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Pérez.

  • 16:22
    Out in Q1
    17P MaldonadoLotus
    18A SutilSauber
    19K KobayashiCaterham
    20J BianchiMarussia
    21M EricssonCaterham
    22M ChiltonMarussia
  • 16:23
    Qualifying Battle
    SauberQualified Ahead
    E Gutiérrez2
    A Sutil1
  • 16:24

    Race controlTurn 13 and 14 incident involving Adrian Sutil and Romain Grosjean will be investigated after the session.

  • 16:25

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 16:26

    Quiet start to this second session, as no one is in a particular hurry to get out and about on track. It's now properly dark, so the floodlighting is in full effect.

  • 16:26

    TweetTweet from @F1onNBCSports: Remember, whichever tire the drivers use in Q2 is what they will start the race on. First time we've had a dry qualifying in 2014

  • 16:27

    With a full two minutes of the session gone, finally Valtteri Bottas breaks the silence and heads out. He's joined by his Williams teammate and Nico Hülkenberg in the Force India.

  • 16:28

    Kimi Räikkönen also heads out on track, the Finn has been struggling so far in qualifying, the Ferrari looking a real handful this weekend.

  • 16:29

    Team radioTeam radio to Lewis Hamilton: "Just a reminder, this has the potential to be your race start tyre."

    Are they expecting his fastest lap to come out of this stint then?

  • 16:30

    QuotePastor Maldonado: "I think we have a difficult weekend, slightly better than the previous two races but still on performance we are miles away from where we want to be. We need to work harder, I think that's the limit of the car at the moment. As you see, both of the times from Romain and me, they are very close. There is no more to do especially in qualifying. For the race, is slightly better so hopefully tomorrow is going to be another day."

  • 16:30

    Tomorrow will definitely be another day, Pastor.

  • 16:31

    We've got 14 drivers out on track now, with just Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean waiting in the garage.

  • 16:32

    With times gradually filtering in, it's no surprise to see Hamilton at the top, with a 1:33.872. Nico Rosberg tops his teammate with a 1:33.7. Ricciardo currently sits third just ahead of Alonso.

  • 16:35

    Most of the drivers return to the pit lane for their mid-session stop. The drop zone currently features Pérez, Bottas, Vergne, Gutiérrez, Vettel and Grosjean - with the latter two not having been out yet.

  • 16:35

    Vettel heads out for his first attempt at a lap this session, soft tyres on the Red Bull. Bottas follows along soon after.

  • 16:36
    WIlliams' cars return to the pits
    Credit: Twitter/WilliamsRacing

    @WilliamsRacing: Both cars back in to change tyres for next run

  • 16:37

    The tyre blankets come off Grosjean's car, and he heads out for an attempt at a flying lap. They're likely not hopeful he'll get much further up the grid than his teammate, though.

  • 16:38

    With just less than three minutes remaining, the top six remain in the garage, and as the clock ticks down to two minutes, it's just the Mercedes duo who stay indoors.

  • 16:38

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: Both our boys remaining boxed: wheels off, feedback on...

  • 16:39

    Vettel moves into eighth with his first lap of the session, it's almost half a second off his teammate, with Ricciardo currently in third.

  • 16:40

    Bottas jumps up to 7th with Massa improving to 8th. The continuous improvement drops Vettel out of the top ten. Ricciardo pits from third.

  • 16:40

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 16:41

    Vettel pits! He's given up on his session after radio feedback to the team "the downshifts were really bad." Out of the top ten for the defending champion this weekend.

  • 16:41

    The top three in that session were Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo.

  • 16:42

    Grosjean does exactly the same as last week, getting through to Q2 where his teammate cannot, but still lining up next to him in 16th and 17th.

  • 16:43
    Out in Q2
    11S VettelRed Bull
    12N HülkenbergForce India
    13D KvyatToro Rosso
    14JE VergneToro Rosso
    15E GutiérrezSauber
    16R GrosjeanLotus
  • 16:44

    It's not a good week for the Toro Rosso drivers, but Kvyat has out-qualified his teammate for the first time this season.

  • 16:45

    A relatively poor session for Nico Hülkenberg too, given the pace the car has been showing, and the German's ability to drag good things out of it. Sergio Pérez in the sister Force India car, was up in sixth and gets to fight for a top ten position.

  • 16:48

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 16:49

    Nobody is waiting at the end of the pit lane this time. Compared to the queues we've seen at the last two venues, this is a reasonably relaxed qualifying so far.

  • 16:50

    The two Williams drivers are the first out on track, followed swiftly by Sergio Pérez.

  • 16:51

    Team radioTeam radio to Bottas: "Track clear, got a nice new set of options now. One time." Pérez also received a similar message. One timed lap apiece.

  • 16:52

    All drivers bar Kimi Räikkönen have left the garage and are working on putting a lap together.

  • 16:53

    QuoteSebastian Vettel: "The final run, for some reason, it was a bit more difficult. The rears were locking up. We've been playing around with this for quite a while. Still not where we want to be. I don't want to blame it on that. There was a little more in the car I couldn't get to. Not happy with today, but maybe with the extra set and tyres and maybe in the race things will calm down, it will help us a bit."

  • 16:53

    Bottas sets the first time of the session, a 1:34.247.

  • 16:54

    Massa crosses the line for a time behind his teammate, and then Pérez splits the two.

  • 16:54

    Nico Rosberg takes P1 with a 1:33.1, but Hamilton is close behind.

  • 16:54

    Lewis Hamilton can't do it, he crosses the line for second, almost three tenths down on Nico.

  • 16:55

    Meanwhile, Ricciardo's first lap is down in sixth, with Fernando Alonso in eighth. Kimi Räikkönen hasn't shown his face yet.

  • 16:57

    Deputy team principal Claire Williams stands just outside the garage, arms folded, watching the mechanics with a beady eye. There's an air of menacing "I'm allllways watching" about that Claire.

  • 16:57

    Kimi Räikkönen finally heads out from the garage for his first and only run.

  • 16:58

    It's the final opportunity for the fight for pole. Realistically the fight is only between Rosberg and Hamilton, but Nico has the edge at the moment. Can Lewis get the place back?

  • 16:59

    All ten cars are out on track, all on soft tyres, and all with the aim to go as fast as possible. Brilliant.

  • 17:00

    Kimi was looking a bit better on this lap but he locks up going into turn ten which will cost him.

  • 17:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 17:00

    Rosberg also locks up with a smattering of tyre smoke trailing behind the car.

  • 17:01

    Hamilton has made a mistake on his lap too, so Rosberg pits knowing he won't be beaten.

  • 17:01

    Räikkönen's lap is good enough for sixth place, with Alonso down in ninth.

  • 17:02

    Magnussen finishes the final lap of the session, dropping Alonso down to tenth. Button in the other McLaren was ahead in seventh.

  • 17:03

    StopwatchPole position for Nico Rosberg with a time of 1:33.185.

  • 17:04
    Q3 results
    1N RosbergMercedes
    2L HamiltonMercedes
    3D RicciardoRed Bull
    4V BottasWilliams
    5S PérezForce India
    6K RäikkönenFerrari
    7J ButtonMcLaren
    8F MassaWilliams
    9K MagnussenMcLaren
    10F AlonsoFerrari
  • 17:05

    Let's not forget that Daniel Ricciardo will take a ten place grid drop, promoting those behind him up a place. Bottas effectively starts third.

  • 17:06
    Gap Analysis
  • 17:08

    TweetTweet from @allanmcnish: Wow, an exciting qualifying, tomorrow's battle will be tense, Force India and Williams will be looking for that last podium place.

  • 17:09

    Replays of Hamilton's mistake show his lock up sent him right off track and spending several seconds recovering. It's not a surprise that both the Mercedes gave up their flying laps based on that.

  • 17:11
    Qualifying Battle
    Red BullQualified Ahead
    D Ricciardo2
    S Vettel1
  • 17:19

    QuotePress conference quotes - Nico Rosberg: "Just worked well through the weekend, finding my way, progressing, working my way round some issues. the challenge this weekend is that the practice sessions were in such hot conditions mainly, it’s very difficult, you have to guess what the car’s going to be like in the evening. Got my laps together, I’m very happy, it’s great to start from pole."

  • 17:20

    QuotePress conference quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "You can’t always get it right. Congratulations to Nico, he’s done a great job this weekend… For us, I think, I made a mistake on my last lap. Generally I'm happy, I’m really proud of the team for us to keep moving forward and progressing as we are."

  • 17:20

    QuotePress conference quotes - Daniel Ricciardo: "Really pleased with the performance, I think at the moment it’s the best anyone else can do besides the two guys alongside me. We’ve still got some ground to make on them. Really pleased with qualifying today. As Nico touched on, it’s been tricky. The temperature drops a lot for these evening sessions. In P3 we were really off the pace but it turned around this evening. It’s nice to close the gap, but there’s still more.

    "Tomorrow, unfortunately, I don’t stay at the front here, it gives me a bit of work to do. We’ve got some good guys in the office back there, I’m sure they’ll do what they can to get me as far up the front as possible. At the moment it’s pretty close between two and three stop, maybe there’s a bit of room for us to do something there."

  • 17:21

    QuotePress conference quotes - Nico Rosberg: "Starting from pole is obviously a great thing but it’s a whole different story tomorrow. Different challenge waiting for us in the race, tyre degradation is the main problem. But I’m confident, I had some good runs yesterday on the high fuel so I’m confident I can stay ahead in the race."

  • 17:23
    2014 Pole Positions
    1L Hamilton2
    2N Rosberg1
  • 17:27

    That was a fascinating qualifying. Mercedes had the pace expected of them, but it wasn't all about Hamilton as anticipated. The rest of the top ten make for an interesting line up, whilst Ricciardo's drop could mean a great fight tomorrow.

  • 17:27

    It'll also be fun to see what Vettel can do from 11th, now starting ahead of his teammate but clearly not quite as comfortable in the car at the moment.

  • 17:29

    The race tomorrow brings some unknowns, as the first night race in Bahrain and tyre wear plus fuel levels are the two big concerns for most of the teams.

  • 17:29

    I'll be back to follow and share all the action as it unfolds, so I hope you will join me tomorrow as we enjoy all the facts from the Bahrain Grand Prix.

All content in the series Bahrain 2014