F1 Full Qualifying Report: Vettel on Pole for Bahrain, Ferraris Close Behind, and Schumacher Starting 7th


What Happens When Quali is Exciting But, Thankfully, Not for Crashes

7:12am EST — In a sedate qualifying session, Sebastian Vettel took first pole of the 2010 season, followed by the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, and Nico Rosberg as the top five starters for tomorrow’s Grand Prix.  As he did throughout qualifying, Rosberg posted a time faster than famous teammate Michael Schumacher, who will start seventh, followed by reigning champion Jenson Button.  The new teams were first out in Q1, and Button just beating last year’s teammate Rubens Barrichello into Q1.

Qualifying began after a final practice session in which Fernando Alonso posted the fastest time so far this weekend (1:54.099), just faster than Nico Rosberg, with Mark Webber, Michael Schumacher, and Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top five.  Karun Chandhok again did not manage any running with clutch problems.

Q1:
Virgin Racing was the first team to leave the pit lane in Q1, where the seven slowest drivers would be knocked out.  Halfway through the first session, sixteen cars of twenty-four were on-track.  Alonso had an early lead, only to have Rosberg, then Massa set the fastest time, then Webber, then Vettel.  With one minute left, it was the new teams in the knockout zone, along with Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber.  At the very end of the session, Alonso went back to the top as Kobayashi posted a fifteenth fastest time and his teammate Pedro de la Rosa dropped into the knockout zone.  He improved, putting the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari out, with Virgin Racing the best of the new teams, then Lotus, with the HRT of Chandhok over ten seconds off fastest Alonso’s 1:53.612.  Vettel posted the second fastest time, then Sutil, Webber, and Massa the top five.

Drivers Knocked Out in Q1:
18. Alguersuari 1:57.071
19. Glock 1:59.728
20. Trulli 1:59.852
21. Kovalainen 2:00.313
22. di Grassi 2:00.587
23. Senna 2:03.240
24.Chandhok 2:04.904

Q2:
Vettel was the first out in the fifteen minute Q2, where only the top ten will advance until Q3. Vettel posted the first fast time of the session, just .06 slower than Alonso’s Q1 time.  Five minutes in, only eight drivers had posted fast times, with neither Mercedes or Williams, having left the garage.  Once Barrichello got onto the circuit, he went straight to tenth on the soft tires.  With five minutes left, only Barrichello, de la Rosa, Kobayashi, and Petrov were circulating.  Rosberg continued to post faster times than his famous teammate, fifth to Schumacher’s ninth, with four minutes left an no one on-track.  Buemi and Sutil were the first drivers back out and opening the floodgates.  With three minutes left, 2009 champion Jenson Button was in the knockout zone, along with Liuzzi, Hulkenberg, de la Rosa, Kobayashi, Petrov, and Buemi.  As the clock ticked down, those seven remained there, as it looked to an observer like they waited a bit too long to return to the track, all seventeen of them.  At the top, Vettel improved his time to a weekend’s best 1:53.883, with Alonso just behind by 3 tenths.  Webber, Massa, and Rosberg rounded out the top five, with Hamilton sixth and Schumacher ninth.  Button managed to squeak through, just forcing former teammate Barrichello out of Q2.

Drivers Knocked Out in Q2:
11. Barrichello 1:55.330
12. Liuzzi 1:55.653
13. Hulkenberg 1:55.857
14. de la Rosa 1:56.237
15. Buemi 1:56.265
16. Kobayashi 1:56.270
17.Petrov 1:56.619

Q3:
Both McLarens, Ferraris, Red Bulls, Robert Kubica, and Adrain Sutil began the final ten minutes in Q3 to determine qualifying and pole position for the 2010 season opener, with Massa the first to head out onto the circuit.  Closely followed by teammate Alonso and Hamilton, they remained the only three cars on-track with two minutes gone in the session.  Hamilton posted fastest session times in both sector 2 and 3 on his out-lap.  Button was out next as Massa set a fastest sector 1 time.  The long (about a minute) second sector seemed agonizing, waiting for the first Q3 of the season to become truly exciting.  The Ferraris traded the top, with Massa’s time fastest, then Alonso’s, while Hamilton slotted into third, with all three slower than the previously set faster times.  Sutil was the next out, as the other six drivers seemed to wait for just one set of flying laps with four minutes left and lap times nearly two minutes long.  Finally the Red Bulls emerged with three minutes left, leaving both Mercedes’ of Schumacher and Rosberg the only ones not having posted a time.  Button aborted his first lap, apparently uncomfortable with the car set-up.  When one minute remained, only the Ferrari’s and Hamilton had posted any complete lap time.  Then Sutil moved into third, supplanting Hamilton.  Everyone was one a flying lap (either just begun or about to end) as the seconds ticked down.  Vettel was on a flying lap, and looked to be the first to cross the line, with the fastest time of the session, followed by Massa, slotting into second.  Alonso remained third, with Hamilton fourth, and fellow world champions Schumacher and Button in seventh and eight, respectively.

Final Qualifying Times for the GP of Bahrain:
1. Vettel 1:54.101
2. Massa 1:54.242
3. Alonso 1:54.608
4. Hamilton 1:55.217
5. Rosberg 1:55.241
6. Webber 1:55.241
7. Schumacher 1:55.524
8. Button 1:55.672
9. Kubica 1:55.885
10. Sutil 1:56.309

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