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GP Week : Issue 219
QUALIFYING Button had hardly completed a lap prior to Saturday morning practice and his car stopped again without setting a time in qualifying. When the car was running it had reasonable pace, potentially capable of a finish at the lower end of the top ten, but that required completing more than a handful of laps during practice. Force India showed improved form, Nico Hulkenberg eighth fastest with Sergio Perez only narrlowly missing out on a Q1 berth. It was a strong turnaround from a week ago in China where the Silverstone squad seemed rooted to the back end of the grid. However, there were no certainties the one lap pace from Saturday would translate on Sunday, especially with Kvyat and Pastor Maldonado starting out of position. By rights Maldonado should have been far higher on the grid - there was pace in the Lotus, that had been clear earlier in the weekend. The Venezuelan had complained of a loss of power and brake issues with his time less, than a tenth off the pace needed to escape the cut in Q1. Whether there is any validity in Maldonado's complaints is unclear, Grosjean was a little over half a second faster but such was the closeness of the midfield he escape the opening phase of the session with comfort. 2015 FORMULA 1TM GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX 57 LAPS ROUND 4/19 << Last Race – China Last Weekend 1 Next Race – Spain >> Three Weeks’ Time 2015 FORMULA 1TM GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING CLASSIFICATION 1 – Lewis Hamilton takes pole position for the first time in Bahrain, and for the 42nd time in his career, only 3 behind Sebastian Vettel for 3rd on the all-time list. Hamilton and Vettel are also now the only drivers to open a season with 4 straight poles in this decade, after Vettel did it in 2011. 2 – The top-3 on the grid is the same as it was at the Malaysia GP, when Vettel won the race. Nico Rosberg failed to take pole in Bahrain for the first time since 2012, but he did at least beat Kimi Raikkkonen, for whom 4th place is a best qualifying performance since the 2013 German GP for Lotus (also 4th). 3 – Valtteri Bottas outqualified Felipe Massa for the first time this season (Melbourne included), while Felipe Massa was quickest in the speed trap but more than a full second off the pole time. Daniel Ricciardo starts 7th, the same position in which he qualified in China, and is yet to be outqualified by a teammate on this circuit, while Nico Hulkenberg put Force India into Q3 for the first time in 10 races, and on a personal note it was his best qualifying since the British GP last July. It is his first top-10 start in Bahrain, the circuit on which he made his Grand Prix debut for Williams in 2010. 4 – Toro Rosso had only ever got 1 car to Q3 in Bahrain in their history, so Carlos Sainz’s 9th place is impressive, while Lotus’ Romain Grosjean kept up a 100% record of Q3 appearances in 2015. Sergio Perez missed Q3 but 11th is still his best of the season so far, while neither Sauber reached Q3 for the first time since Melbourne – when Nasr and Ericsson both scored points. For the Swede, it was a first career elimination in Q2. 5 – Mclaren got a car out of Q1 for the first time this year, and Fernando Alonso only missed reaching Q3 by 0.398s. Compare that with Melbourne, when their best qualifying time was 5.095s from pole position. Max Verstappen’s 15th on the grid is his worst in F1 so far, while Pastor Maldonado was unlucky to be eliminated in Q1 having been 7th fastest in final practice. Even so, this is actually Maldonado’s best-ever start in Bahrain! 6 – Daniil Kvyat has never previously been eliminated in Q1 in his F1 career, and he was essentially the slowest 2015 runner, as the only cars behind him were the Marussias, nearly 3 seconds further back, but inside the 107% cutoff in Q1. Jenson Button saw his car stop on track for the 3rd time this weekend, and he now starts 20th, his worst qualifying performance since he was 20th on the grid for the 2008 Canadian GP.....his last season with Honda. 20 GPWEEK.com // 20 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> BAHRAIN PARTNERS: