Latest / Feature

Qualifying analysis - no let up from Hamilton

18 Apr 2015

Consistent conditions in Sakhir made life tricky in some ways for everyone as a steady wind blew all day, but after the track temperature in FP3 had declined from 40 degrees Celsius to 36, it stayed around 31 degrees as dusk descended for qualifying. As anticipated, the difference between the two tyre compounds, Pirelli’s mediums and softs, was about 2.3s. Lewis Hamilton will start the race as favourite, but with Ferrari close at hand, victory is far from assured for Mercedes. Here’s our team-by-team round-up of the Saturday formbook in Bahrain…

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 32.571s, P1
Nico Rosberg, 1m 33.129s, P3

Hamilton was delighted with his 42nd pole position, and the first of his career in Bahrain. He took control of the day and never let up, posting the fastest time of the weekend on his final run in Q3. Rosberg, by contrast, was very unhappy with the management of his runs, and said he’d wanted to run new tyres in Q3 not used softs. While Rosberg’s race might have been compromised already, Hamilton believes he has a strong chance despite Vettel’s presence in second place on the grid.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 32.982s, P2
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 33.227, P4

Ferrari have looked a threat all weekend, and after a little wobble in Q1 Vettel was very strong on his final Q3 run. He goes into the race expecting to have excellent pace against the Mercedes. Raikkonen was disappointed with his runs, having looked good against Vettel at times, but also believes that he has good prospects tomorrow.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 33.381, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 33.744s, P6

Williams consolidated their third best team status by wrapping up the third row of the grid. Bottas said fifth was representative of their pace, but Massa said he was a little bit disappointed with his best lap.

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 33.832s, P7
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 35.800s, P17

Ricciardo said that overall he was very happy with the way his qualifying session went, and plans to make a decent start this week so he can keep within DRS range of the Williams duo. Kvyat and the team were mystified by his failure to make it through Q1, and will be examining his data this evening.

Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz, 1m 34.462s, P9
Max Verstappen, 1m 35.103s, P15

Both drivers continued to struggle in the windy conditions, but Sainz said that things were an awful lot better than they had been in FP3. He got a good enough lap in right at the end of Q2 to make Q3. Verstappen looked on course to make it too, until his lap was spoiled by too much understeer close to the end.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 34.450s, P8
Sergio Perez, 1m 34.704s, P11

Force India looked more like their 2014 selves here, and Hulkenberg did an excellent job to get his VJM08 into Q3, and then to eighth place on the grid. Perez did a decent job too, so was disappointed when he got bumped out of 10th spot right at the end of Q2.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 34.484s, P10
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 35.677s, P16

Grosjean was happy to get through to Q3, but admitted that he never got the lap he was looking for in that final session and had to make do with 10th. Maldonado looked strong in FP3, but his chances in Q1 were damned by a curious problem in the front brakes which applied pressure without any input from the pedal, thus robbing him of straight-line speed.

Sauber
Felipe Nasr, 1m 34.737s, P12
Marcus Ericsson, 1m 35.034s, P13

Things were very tight in the midfield, but both drivers were disappointed to just miss out on getting into Q3. Nasr thought he got the most from his C34, but Ericsson said he struggled to get a good feeling with the car, and made a mistake on his best Q2 lap.

McLaren
Fernando Alonso, 1m 35.039s, P14
Jenson Button, No time, P20

Button’s weekend of disaster continued as his MP4-30 stopped before he’d even set a lap time. This time it was an electrical fault. Alonso pushed as hard as he could, but 14th was the best the car could do.

Marussia
Will Stevens, 1m 38.713s, P18
Roberto Merhi, 1m 39.722s, P19

Yet again, the Marussias ran reliably and the team continued to make progress. Stevens thought he could have got a little more from his car but for a small mistake in Turn 12 on his best lap; Merhi likewise put his hands up to one in Turn 4 on his.