Nico Rosberg takes pole at Bahrain Grand Prix as penalty over gear box change leaves Lewis Hamilton starting ninth
Saturday 20 April 2013
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg took pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix today, finishing ahead of Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and Fernando Alonso of Ferrari for the race that is being held amid widespread anti-government protests in the divided nation.
It is only the second pole of Rosberg's career and best performance of the year for the 27-year-old German who has retired early in two of the three races and was forced by the team to finish behind teammate Lewis Hamilton in fourth place in Malaysia.
Rosberg's timed 1:32.330 to finish 0.254 in front of Vettel — the three-time defending Formula One champion — and 0.337 ahead of Alonso, who won last week's Chinese Grand Prix. Alonso had the chance to better Rosberg's time but committed several errors on his final lap.
"Yes! Come on guys, that's how it's done," Rosberg screamed into the radio.
Hamilton, was fourth but will start ninth following a five-grid penalty for a gear box change. Because of that, Mark Webber of Red Bull, who was fifth but was given a three-grid penalty last week in China, will start seventh.
The penalty is a further headache for Hamilton. He has struggled with the hot and sandy conditions in practice, finishing no higher than 10th in the first two sessions and then damaging his rear left tire at the end of the third.
The Briton has had a surprisingly successful start in his first season at Mercedes after joining from McLaren. He has finished on the podium in the past two races and took pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix.
The dusty and hot track was not kind to Lotus drivers, with Kimi Raikkonen only ninth fastest and his teammate Romain Grosjean continuing his forgettable season by only managing 11th.
McLaren also struggled, fulfilling a prediction made by Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh that its car would have trouble with the Bahrain circuit. Jenson Button was 10th fastest while teammate Sergio Perez was down in 12th.
The race has come under fire from rights groups who have accused the government of trying to gloss over abuses, while anti-government opponents have used the run-up to the race to stage almost daily protests over demands for a greater voice in the Gulf country's affairs. Some of those protest on Friday turned violent, with clashes taken places between thousands of stone-throwing youths and riot police firing bird shot and tear gas.
Liverpool vs Bolton report: Brilliant Adam Bogdan produces heroics to earn Wanderers a replay
Cristiano Ronaldo vine: Real Madrid forward sent-off for kicking and striking opponent during 2-1 win over Cordoba
What time is the 2015 WWE Royal Rumble on? And full card
Sam Burgess: Bath and England's next big thing
The Andy Cole Column: The real reason I've hated Sheringham for 15 years: he refused to shake my hand
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners