Nico puts Merc on Bahrain pole
GO, GO, NICO: Mercedes F1's Nico Rosberg has pulled the second pole start of his career for the 2013 Bahrain F1 GP. Image: AFP
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
MANAMA, Bahrain - Germany's Nico Rosberg is looking forward to kick-starting his season after seizing for Mercedes' a second successive pole in qualifying for the 2013 Bahrain F1 GP.
Compatriot and triple World champion Sebastian Vettel joined him on the front row for Red Bull at a circuit where no driver has won from lower than fourth on the grid in eight previous races.
"Am I surprised? A little bit," said Rosberg of his second career pole. "It wasn't really clear who was the quickest car over one lap. I really want to kick-start my season. It's been a rough ride in the first three races. Today was my first real qualifying."
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, three times a winner in Bahrain, will share the second row in Sunday's race with Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa after penalties for Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Mark Webber.
Hamilton was on pole in China a week earlier but collected a five-place penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change after Saturday's final practice, dropping him from fourth.
Webber was fifth-fastest for his 200th race but falls three places as a punishment for causing a collision in Shanghai, with Massa moving up from sixth.
Rosberg's only previous pole was in China in 2012. Mercedes has not had back-to-back poles since returning as a works team in 2010. He's retired from two of the season's three races and was fourth in Malaysia when he was ordered by the team not to pass Hamilton for third place for fear that the cars would run out of fuel.
'WE'LL TRY HARD!'
The son of 1982 champion Keke Rosberg now has a chance to take the second win of his career, at the circuit where he made his debut in 2006, but he warned that rear-tyre degradation would be a concern. "It's difficult to say if we have enough pace to win the race but for sure we'll try hard to win."
The driver on pole in Bahrain has won four of the past eight races here.
Vettel is leading the championship with 52 points, with Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified ninth place but moves up to eighth, second on 49 for Lotus. Alonso has 43.
"Congratulations to Nico, it was all his today," said Vettel. "It was clear even with a perfect lap (he) was unbeatable today."
Britain's Paul di Resta qualified a strong seventh for Force India and will move up to fifth after the grid penalties.
At the back, Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado failed to make it through the first phase after he and Williams team mate Valtteri Bottas clocked the same time down to a thousandth of a second. The Finn went through because he set his time first.
Qualifying times for the 2013 Bahrain Formula 1 GP
1 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min32.330
2 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1min32.584
3 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min32.667
4 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min32.762
5 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1min33.078
6 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min33.207
7 Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India 1min33.235
8 Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India 1min33.246
9 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 1min33.327
10 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren
11 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min33.762
12 Sergio Perez (Mexico) McLaren 1min33.914
13 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 1min33.974
14 Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Sauber 1min33.976
15 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 1min34.105
16 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min34.284
17 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min34.425
18 Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber 1min34.730
19 Charles Pic (France) Caterham 1min35.283
20 Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia 1min36.178
21 Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham 1min36.304
22 Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia 1min6.476
1-10 Third and final qualifying session
11-in Second qualifying session
17-22 First qualifying session
Starting grid for the 2013 Formula 1 GP
1 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes
2 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull
3 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari
4 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari
5 Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India
6 Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India
7 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull
8 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus
9 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes
10 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren
11 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus
12 Sergio Perez (Mexico) McLaren
13 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso
14 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Sauber
15 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams
16 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso
17 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams
18 Charles Pic (France) Caterham
19 Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia
20 Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham
21 Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia
22 Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber