Qualifying analysis - advantage Red Bull and Vettel 21 Apr 2012
After dominating qualifying throughout 2011, Red Bull have been noticeable by their absence from the front row of the grid this season. In Bahrain on Saturday, however, Sebastian Vettel finally put his RB8 back on pole. But with eight teams in the top ten and the pace of the frontrunners so close, the champions look to have their work cut out for the race. We take a team-by-team look at where things stand after qualifying in Sakhir
Sebastien Vettel, 1m 32.422s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 32.637s, P3
A delighted Vettel said that he owed his and Red Bulls first pole of 2012 to the team after a huge amount of work has improved the set-up of the RB8 for qualifying. Both he and Webber were a little close to the knockout zone in Q1, but enhanced their cars sufficiently as qualifying continued. Webber said he did a good lap, and that he feels very confident for the race.
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 32.520s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 32.711s, P4
Hamilton said he was very happy with front-row performance yet again. He said that he got everything out of the MP4-27 and that both laps he did in Q3 were very good. While he is ready to push for his first victory of the season, Button was a little less happy. He said that his cars performance was a lot better than it had been in FP1 and FP2, but that the balance still wasnt quite right in Q3. As soon as he saw that his second run would not yield an improvement, he backed off to conserve his tyres.
Nico Rosberg, 1m 32.821s, P6
Michael Schumacher, 1m 34.865s, P18, will start P17
Rosberg was very quick in FP2 and FP3 but opted for a tyre-saving strategy in qualifying. He made one run which was good enough for fourth, so that he could save a set of soft tyres for the race. Schumachers W03 developed a problem with its DRS on his best lap, and he was still having that investigated when Kovalainen bumped him from Q2. But as he said philosophically, he has saved some tyres and it made no sense going out on a different set of tyres in Q1 while the DRS was still malfunctioning. He qualified 18th, but moves up a place because of Maldonados penalty.
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 32.912s, P6
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 35.014s, P19, will start P18
Ricciardo put in the performance of qualifying with a superb lap that left him sixth on the grid. The Australian said that persevering with the updates that hadnt worked out so well in China was just the right thing to do and that excellent communication with the team had helped him to get through to Q3 in the first place. Vergne was mystified why he was off his team mates pace, and got into trouble later when he missed the red light for the weighbridge.
Romain Grosjean, 1m 33.008s, P7
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 33.789s, P11
Grosjean was very happy with another strong qualifying performance that underlined the Lotus E20s potential, and said he would have been quicker still but for a small mistake. Raikkonen said he had the speed and thought he could easily have made it through to Q3 with another run, but the team took the risk of doing only one lap in Q2 and paid the price. He hopes that the decision will prove to have been the right one come the racer, however.
Sergio Perez, 1m 33.394s, P8
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 33.806s, P12
Perez was very happy with his runs in qualifying, especially after struggling a little yesterday. Kobayashi said he got a decent balance in his C31 and was going well until he made a mistake in Turn 11 which spoiled his best lap.
Fernando Alonso, No Q3 time, P9
Felipe Massa, 1m 33.912s, P14
Alonso needed all three sets of soft Pirellis to make it through to Q3 so had none left for that session. Hence his ninth place with no recorded time. Massa was struggling again with his F2012, and wound up 14th, but reported that he at least had a set of new soft tyres for the race. Ferraris troubles continue after the fleeting boost of Malaysia.
Paul di Resta, No Q3 time, P10
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 33.807s, P13
After their problems on Friday afternoon, Force India bounced back as Di Resta made it through to Q3 then sat that out to save tyres for the race. Hulkenberg was less lucky, and didnt make it beyond Q2 after a slide hurt his best lap towards the end.
Bruno Senna, 1m 34.017s, P15
Pastor Maldonado, No Q2 time, P17, will start P22
Senna said it was a tough day in the difficult conditions, while Maldonados qualifying was pretty much doomed after his FW34 needed a gearbox change overnight and thus incurred him a five-place grid penalty. To make it even more frustrating, having got through to Q2 he couldnt run because of a KERS problem, so he starts way back in 22nd place.
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 36.132s, P16
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 35.823s, P20, will start P19
Kovalainen caused a big surprise by bumping Schumacher from Q2, and was delighted that suggestions in the morning that getting the car tuned for the wind might just get them into that session on the soft tyres were proved correct. The CT01 showed genuine signs of progress as it was closer to its main rivals in the midfield. Petrov had a problem with the floor of his car in FP3 which prevented him from finding a good balance and decent rear-end stability under braking for Q1 on the soft Pirellis.
Charles Pic, 1m 37.683s, P21, will start P20
Timo Glock, 1m 37.905s, P23
There was plenty of Gallic cheer as Pic out-qualified Glock. The French rookie was pleased with his result even though the higher temperatures in Q1 placed a premium on tyre conservation. The German struggled mightily with his cars balance in FP3 and Q1 and admitted that a massive mistake in Turn 13 cost him dearly. He could have tried again on another set of soft tyres, but opted to save them for the race.
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 37.883s, P22, will start P21
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 38.314s, P24
Not surprisingly, De la Rosa was happy to split the Marussias and praised the team for an important jump in performance. Karthikeyan said he made progress after struggling on Friday, but that he lost time with a misfire from Turn 12 onwards on his best lap.
Pirelli expect their soft tyres to last for about 18-20 laps in the race and their medium compounds for about 23-25 laps. And in terms of the speed differential, they believe there is around 0.6 to 0.8 seconds per lap between the two compounds.
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