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Hamilton takes "sexy" Bahrain pole

NEWS STORY
02/04/2016

Away from the ongoing political shenanigans that make F1 look more trivial than Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Sebastian Vettel turned the Bahrain weekend on its head this morning when he headed a Ferrari 1-2 in final practice.

Indeed, yesterday's pace-setter, Nico Rosberg, was a whopping - by F1 standards - 0.421s behind in third place.

Speaking after the session, Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe didn't seem too perturbed, feeling that whilst Ferrari has closed in things should be clearer this afternoon. Indeed, most feel that it was the warmer temperatures earlier that played into the Italian outfit's hands.

Behind the Ferraris and Mercedes, were the usual suspects, Williams and Red Bull, however it was the appearance of the Haas duo (Grosjean in sixth and Gutierrez in eighth) that raised eyebrows.

Further adding to the mix, neither Force India or Toro Rosso ran on the supersoft rubber and could therefore spring a surprise this afternoon.

Then again, on the subject of tyres, many remain puzzled by Ferrari's decision to favour the medium rubber this weekend whilst Mercedes, keen devotees of the red-banded tyres, are going for the softs.

Following yesterday's promise, McLaren slipped down the tables this morning, Button and Vandoorne finishing thirteenth and fourteenth, the Woking pair split by just 0.04s.

Mind you, we say all this as we attempt to put out of our minds the fact that - as you will be well aware - this afternoon's session will be run to the same awful format seen - and widely ridiculed in Melbourne.

Ahead of Q1, the air temperature is 22 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 28 degrees. Humidity is 29% with 0% chance of rain, so we are told.

Vettel heads down the pitlane a full two minutes of the start of Q1, followed shortly after by Hamilton and Rosberg. As the trio are joined by Raikkonen, Alonso watches forlornly from the pit-wall.

The lights go green and Vettel leads the way, whilst Raikkonen overtakes Rosberg and Hamilton as though it were Melbourne, though the Briton subsequently re-passes the Finn.

In not time, all but Magnussen, Verstappen and Sainz are on track. With the Dane starting from the pitlane following his weigh-station misdemeanour it is likely he won't bother going out.

Vettel posts 31.636 but his is soon beaten by both Hamilton (31.391) and Rosberg (31.325). Raikkonen goes fourth (31.685).

Bottas goes quickest in S1, eventually crossing the line at 31.672 top go fourth.

With 11 minutes remaining, Magnussen and the Toro Rossos are finally on track.

Sainz goes eighth and Verstappen ninth, whilst Magnussen goes seventeenth, thereby condemning Nasr to be the first driver to be eliminated.

Still in the Manor garage, Haryanto will be the next driver to be eliminated, the hapless Indonesian having no say in the matter.

Palmer improves to 19th thereby demoting Vandoorne who also improves, much to the despair of the Renault driver who is next out.

Out goes Magnussen, while attention now switches to Wehrlein who does a superb job in improving to 16th. Which means that Perez could be next out. However, Force India have sent him out too late, he's out before he gets a chance to do anything about it.

Before you can say "bob's your uncle", Ericsson is out, as is Wehrlein.

As Q1 ends, we lose Wehrlein, Ericsson Perez, Magnussen, Palmer, Haryanto and Nasr.

Quickest was Rosberg, ahead of Hamilton, Ricciardo, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, Sainz, Verstappen. Button and Hulkenberg.

This is awful, possibly even more of a mess than Melbourne. Anyone who defends this is clueless, totally clueless.

As in Q1, Ferrari cannot wait to get things underway, this time around Raikkonen leading the way. He is joined by the Mercedes pair but there is confusion when the lights fail to turn green. Whilst a green flag is waved the light remains red and Raikkonen has no intention of ignoring it. As a result, around fifty seconds of the session is wasted.

Raikkonen posts 30.535 but Hamilton is quickest (30.039), Vettel going second moments later ahead of Rosberg.

Bottas goes fifth (30.995) and Massa sixth (31.374) as Kvyat looks set to be the first victim of this horrible format.

After yesterday's promise, Button is next to lose out, with Gutierrez and Vandoorne set to follow. Indeed, both drivers climb from their cars as the session descends further into farce.

Hulkenberg bucks the trend, the German heading out in an effort to save himself. With over five minutes remaining he is the only driver on track.

The Force India driver's effort is rewarded when he crosses the line at 31.604 to go eighth, thereby dumping poor old Sainz.

Massa and Bottas follow The Hulk's example and head out, as Verstappen and Grosjean look set to be next to face the chop. In terms of the Williams duo however, it is not about escaping elimination at this stage rather scrubbing a set of tyres for the start tomorrow.

Sure enough, game over for Verstappen.

Before he can be officially eliminated Grosjean is already walking down the pitlane.

"Where are we," asks Hulkenberg, a question most F1 fans can empathise with. Told he is eighth, he replies, "it's not ever yet then".

Quickest was Hamilton, ahead of Vettel, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Bottas, Ricciardo, Massa and Hulkenberg.

We lose Grosjean, Verstappen, Sainz, Vandoorne, Gutierrez, Button and Kvyat.

Check out our Saturday gallery, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by TokyoAussie, 02/04/2016 22:22

"It's now down to Todt to recognise the bleedin' obvious. What odds?"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Kkiirmki, 02/04/2016 22:11

"Again: A number of minutes in each session whereby, no cars (I'm going to exclude Williams' quali 2 excursion, as they weren't seriously trying to improve their times) were on the track; checkered flags waving to no one, and timers counting down for drivers walking down the pit lane. Possibly even worse than Melbourne? No matter how much the commentators raise their voices in fake enthusiasm, this is still no better. "

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3. Posted by -ape-, 02/04/2016 17:11

"Grosjean /Haas again very very good ."

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