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Qualifying - Rosberg beats Vettel to take surprise Sakhir pole 20 Apr 2013

(L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari, pole sitter Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrate in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013 Pole sitter Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013 A delighted Jenson Button just manages to scrape his McLaren through into Q3, despite this lock-up

Nico Rosberg snatched Mercedes’ second pole position in a row in Bahrain on Saturday, when his lap of 1m 32.330s beat Sebastian Vettel’s best of 1m 32.584s in the Red Bull.

Q1 saw plenty of late action, as Ferrari's Fernando Alonso set the pace with 1m 32.878s to Vettel’s 1m 33.327s. Pastor Maldonado equalled Williams team mate Valtteri Bottas’ time of 1m 34.425s to edge out Esteban Gutierrez’s 1m 34.730s in the Sauber, but he subsequently dropped into the relegation zone when Daniel Ricciardo staged a last-gasp improvement for Toro Rosso. Thus the Venezuelan and the Mexican were 17th and 18th.

Behind them, Charles Pic comfortably beat Marussia’s Jules Bianchi with his improved Caterham, with 1m 35.283s to 1m 36.178s. As he returned to the pits, Bianchi’s car was doused with fire extinguishant. Max Chilton was closer to his Marussia team mate with 1m 36.476s, but was pushed to 22nd right at the end when Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde improved to 1m 36.304s.

The action continued in Q2, where Vettel was fastest on 1m 32.746s from Rosberg on 1m 32.867s. Jenson Button’s last-minute 1m 33.702s pushed his McLaren to 10th place at Romain Grosjean’s expense, the Lotus driver losing out by six-hundredths of a second with 1m 33.762s. Sergio Perez came up short in the second McLaren with 1m 33.914, just six-hundredths ahead of Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso on 1m 33.974s, which was just two-thousandths ahead of Nico Hulkenberg on 1m 33.976s for Sauber. Bottas was 15th on 1m 34.105s, and Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne was 16th on 1m 34.284s.

Rosberg set the pace initially in Q3 with 1m 32.543s, before Vettel replied with 1m 32.584s. But Rosberg’s second run set the issue beyond dispute as the German recorded 1m 32.330s.

Alonso’s best was 1m 32.667s after he aborted a messy final Q3 lap, while Lewis Hamilton’s sole run in the Mercedes yielded 1m 32.762s.

Mark Webber failed to break 1m 33s, taking his Red Bull around in 1m 33.078s, which left him fifth ahead of the Ferrari of Felipe Massa - the only Q3 runner to opt for medium tyres - on 1m 33.207s. Paul di Resta continued to shade Force India team mate Adrian Sutil, as they came in seventh and eighth on 1m 33.235s and 1m 33.246s respectively. Kimi Raikkonen couldn’t better 1m 33.327s for Lotus, while Button aborted his lap without setting a time and so finished 10th with free tyre choice for Sunday.

There are several grid penalties to apply, however. Hamilton gets a five-place grid drop for changing gearboxes prior to qualifying, Webber drops three places for his clash with Vergne in China, and Gutierrez five for his incident there with Sutil.

So at the front the grid will read: Rosberg, Vettel; Alonso, Massa; Di Resta, Sutil; Webber, Raikkonen; Hamilton, Button.

The middle of grid comprises Grosjean, Perez; Ricciardo, Hulkenberg; Bottas and Vergne.

At the back Maldonado heads row nine with Pic alongside; then come Bianchi and Van der Garde, and Chilton and Gutierrez.

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