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Qualifying - resurgent Vettel takes Sakhir pole 21 Apr 2012

Pole sitter Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 21 April 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 21 April 2012 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1 VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 21 April 2012 Rob Smedley (GBR) Ferrari Race Engineer and Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 21 April 2012 Kimi Raikkonen on board his Lotus E20 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 21 April 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 21 April 2012

Sebastian Vettel bounced back to take his and Red Bull’s first pole position of the season in Sakhir on Saturday afternoon, as former fastest man Lewis Hamilton bumped Vettel’s team mate Mark Webber from the front row.

Hamilton had set the Q3 pace for McLaren with 1m 32.671s, but Webber beat that on his second run with 1m 32.637s to go fastest until Vettel posted 1m 32.422s, and Hamilton’s subsequent improvement to 1m 32.520s put him back on the front row. When it was clear that his second run would not better his first one’s time of 1m 32.711s, McLaren team mate Jenson Button eased off and will start fourth.

In a disappointing session for Mercedes, Nico Rosberg could only manage 1m 32.821s for fifth as Michael Schumacher lines up only 17th after a rear wing problem in Q1.

Daniel Ricciardo was a star all through qualifying and will start his Toro Rosso an excellent sixth on 1m 32.912s.

Romain Grosjean put his Lotus seventh on the grid with 1m 33.008s, with Sergio Perez for company on row four with 1m 33.394s for Sauber. Fernando Alonso messed up the first sector on his first run and thus did not record a Q3 time for Ferrari, while Force India's Paul di Resta completed just exploratory Q3 laps - notably on the harder tyre - also without setting a time. They start ninth and 10th.

Q2 was an intensely close session, with the top 14 separated by seven-tenths of a second from Hamilton on 1m 33.209s to Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on 1m 33.912s.

Late runs from Grosjean and Perez unceremoniously dumped Kimi Raikkonen, who will thus start 11th for Lotus on 1m 33.789s, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi on 1m 33.806s and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg on 1m 33.807s, and after Massa came Williams’ Bruno Senna on 1m 34.017s, Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen on a token 1m 36.132s, and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado who sat out the session with a KERS problem to add to his five-place grid penalty.

Schumacher got a very nasty surprise right at the end of Q1, in which the gap from second to 18th place was less than a second. Button, Hamilton and Schumacher had all gambled on saving tyres and lay 15th, 16th and 17th respectively, and the shock came in the form of Kovalainen who wheeled his Caterham round in 1m 34.852s on the soft Pirellis to push the Mercedes out of Q1. Schumacher’s 1m 34.865s was set on the medium tyre and he was left a very disgruntled 18th as a broken rear wing kept him in the garage and prevented his intended soft-tyre run.

Meanwhile an unhappy Jean-Eric Vergne had a wheel/tyre problem that kept him so focused as he came into the pits that he missed the weighbridge red light. He was restricted to 1m 35.014s for Toro Rosso which ranked him only 19th at a time when team mate Ricciardo has just gone second to Perez with 1m 33.988s. After the session, Vergne was handed a reprimand by the Sakhir race stewards for his weighbridge mistake.

Vitaly Petrov in the second Caterham was 20th on 1m 35.823s. Further back more feathers were ruffled as Charles Pic put it to Marusssia team mate Timo Glock, with 1m 37.683s for 21st. There was more bad news for the German as Pedro de la Rosa put his HRT between them in 22nd place on 1m 37.883s, leaving Glock 23rd on 1m 37.905s. At the back, Narain Karthikeyan lapped his HRT in 1m 38.314s.

Maldonado’s penalty reshuffles the grid thus from 17th downwards: Schumacher, Vergne; Petrov, Pic; De la Rosa, Maldonado; Glock, Karthikeyan.

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