Mercedes bounced back from a disappointing start to the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend to secure a comfortable pole position; Nico Rosberg was the man on the move as he set the desert alight with a blistering pole lap.
World Champion Sebastian Vettel will start the race from 2nd, ahead of the Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
Paul Di Resta enjoyed a very competitive VJM06 and used his improved car to set a time good enough for 5th after penalties were applied to Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton respectively (Webber takes a three place drop for his clash with Vergne in China, while Hamilton had a gearbox replacement after his FP3 escapades that drops him five places).
Adrian Sutil joins his Force India team-mate on the third row of the grid ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button, the McLaren driver relieved at having made it through to the final session of qualifying.
His team-mate Sergio Perez was not so fortunate, dropping behind the lacklustre Romain Grosjean in 12th. Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t repeat his heroics of twelve months ago but still performed beyond expectations to net 13th for Toro Rosso, while Nico Hulkenberg dragged an increasingly dire Sauber into 14th ahead of Valtteri Bottas.
Jean Eric Vergne beat Pastor Maldonado to 16th place, with Esteban Gutierrez separating the Venezuelan from the Caterham of Charles Pic. Bianchi, Van Der Garde and Chilton round out the grid.
Fernando Alonso is the best placed driver for victory, able to mount a co-ordinated attack with the help of Felipe Massa to overcome Vettel should he be in a position to do so. Rosberg has cited Mercedes excessive tyre wear as evidence enough that he will not be fighting for victory tomorrow, while Force India have exhibited exceptional race-pace in the free practice sessions held so far.
|5||P.DI RESTA||GBR||Force India||1:33:235|
|21||G.VAN DER GARDE||NED||Caterham||1:36:304|
*Penalties for Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton move Webber from 5th to 7th and Hamilton from 4th to 9th.