2014 BAHRAIN GP: NICO ROSBERG WINS HIS FIRST SEASON POLE

Nico Rosberg grabbed pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix as an error from Lewis Hamilton on his final run put paid to the Briton’s chance of scoring a third front-of-grid start in a row. Rosberg had set a solid benchmark with first run in the final top-10 shootout and when Hamilton ran wide on his final run, the German was able to abort his own flawed final run safe in the knowledge that his first time of the 12-minute segment was good to earn him his first pole position of 2014. Behind the two Mercedes men, Daniel Ricciardo took third place for Red Bull Racing. The Australian though will drop back to 13 after he takes the 10-place penalty he was given by FIA stewards for an unsafe release from a pit stop at last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix. 

With Mercedes taking their first front-row lockout of the season and Ricciardo scoring a second top-three start of the year, fourth place went to Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. Thanks to Ricciardo’s penalty, however, Bottas will start a grand prix from the from the front of row two for the second time in his career. He started last year’s Canadian GP from third. He’ll be joined on row two by Force India’s Sergio Perez, the Mexican enjoy his best outing of the season so far to qualify fifth.

Sixth in the session was Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn eclipsing team-mate Fernando Alonso for the first time this season. The Spaniard could only manage 10th. Seventh place in the session went to McLaren’s Jenson Button, with Felipe Massa eighth for Williams and Kevin Magnussen ninth in the second McLaren. All will move forward one place on the grid due to Ricciardo’s penalty.

Earlier, Q1 had begun in predictable fashion, with most completing their initial runs on the medium compound tyres. As the final minutes approached, however, the Sauber pairing of Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil bolted on soft tyres, and with previous sessions showing a two-second performance gap between the compounds, the pair rocketed up the order, Gutierrez taking third and Sutil settling into sixth place. That meant a switch to softs for the whole field bar the Mercedes drivers, who remained in the garage, confident their medium tyre times would see them through. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo too stuck with the mediums and went through in 14th place. At the top of the Q1 timesheet was Nico Hulkenberg, followed by Valtteri Bottas and with Sergio Perez third. Hamilton eased through in eighth place, with Rosberg 10th just ahead of world champion Sebastian Vettel. Eliminated were the two cars of Marussia and Caterham, joined by Pastor Maldonado and Adrian Sutil.

Q2 saw similar drama late on as Sebastian Vettel found himself in the drop zone with a few minutes left. He took to the circuit on the soft tyres and set about trying to muscle his way through to the upper orders. However, his lap only yielded P8 and with plenty of time on the clock it wasn’t long before the defending champion was sliding down the order. Kimi Raikkonen bumped him down to ninth and as others posted their best times Vettel slipped out to 11th. At the head of the Q2 timesheet were Rosbreg and Hamilton, followed by Ricciardo, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.
 P.    DRIVER             TEAM           TIME         GAP 
 1. Nico Rosberg        Mercedes AMG   1:33.185
 2. Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes AMG   1:33.464   +  0.279
 3. Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull       1:34.051   +  0.866
 4. Valtteri Bottas     Williams       1:34.247   +  1.062
 5. Sergio Perez        Force India    1:34.346   +  1.161
 6. Kimi Raikkonen      Ferrari        1:34.368   +  1.183
 7. Jenson Button       McLaren        1:34.387   +  1.202
 8. Felipe Massa        Williams       1:34.511   +  1.326
 9. Kevin Magnussen     McLaren        1:34.712   +  1.527
10. Fernando Alonso     Ferrari        1:34.992   +  1.807
    Q2 Fastest time: Nico Rosberg 1:33.708                
11. Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull       1:34.985   +  1.277
12. Nico Hulkenberg     Force India    1:35.116   +  1.408
13. Daniil Kvyat        Toro Rosso     1:35.145   +  1.437
14. Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso     1:35.286   +  1.578
15. Esteban Gutierrez   Sauber         1:35.891   +  2.183
16. Romain Grosjean     Lotus          1:35.908   +  2.200
    Q1 Fastest time: Nico Hulkenberg 1:34.874             
17. Pastor Maldonado    Lotus          1:36.663   +  1.789
18. Adrian Sutil        Sauber         1:36.840   +  1.966
19. Kamui Kobayashi     Caterham       1:37.085   +  2.211
20. Jules Bianchi       Marussia       1:37.310   +  2.436
21. Marcus Ericsson     Caterham       1:37.875   +  3.001
22. Max Chilton         Marussia       1:37.913   +  3.039
    107% time: 1:41.515