Rosberg storms to Sakhir pole position
20 April 2013 – Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg claimed pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix with a stunning time of 1:32.330 in Saturday's qualifying session. The German, who posted two laps strong enough for the top spot, ended the shootout phase 0.254 seconds clear of nearest rival Sebastian Vettel, with Fernando Alonso third.
In similar conditions to the final practice session this morning, usual suspects Alonso and Vettel set the early pace, heading the timesheets in Q1 and Q2 respectively. As the final segment got underway, Rosberg emerged as a serious threat for pole with his initial time of 1:32.543, while many drivers opted for just one timed run.
Rosberg improved to a 1:32.330 during the final sequence of flying laps, with Vettel and Alonso unable to find an answer. Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber were next up, but the pair will be hit with five and three place grid penalties. Felipe Massa, who will progress to the second row alongside team-mate Alonso, was the only man to choose Hard over Medium rubber, slotting ahead of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil.
Kimi Räikkönen ended up as the leading Lotus driver in what was a massively disappointing session for the Enstone-based outfit, with Romain Grosjean being denied a place in Q3 by Jenson Button. The latter chose not to post a time in the final phase and will therefore have free choice over the tyres he starts with on Sunday.
In the second McLaren, Sergio Pérez's fears of a Q2 exit were realised. Despite his best efforts, the Mexican could only claim 12th on the grid, just ahead of Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo and Sauber replacement Nico Hülkenberg. Jean-Éric Vergne sandwiched the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado; the latter fell at the Q1 hurdle after setting a later, identical time to his team-mate.
At the back of the field, Charles Pic put his car upgrades to good use and comfortably outqualified Marussia's Jules Bianchi, while Giedo van der Garde got the better of Max Chilton. All four men will gain places after Esteban Gutiérrez, who was the final Q1 victim, drops to the back of the grid with the penalty he picked up at Shanghai.
After penalties: Bahrain Grand Prix starting grid
Sunday afternoon's 57-lap race at Sakhir begins at 3pm local time (GMT +3) and, as with all sessions, can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net Live Report feature