Vettel takes pole at Bahrain; Schumacher 7th

Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull will start Formula One's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position, while Michael Schumacher's comeback with Mercedes will start from a disappointing seventh place.

Vettel set a fastest time of 1 minute, 54.101 seconds on Saturday to edge Ferrari pair Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, who have both triumphed at the desert track previously.

Lewis Hamilton of McLaren will start fourth ahead of Nico Rosberg of Mercedes and Red Bull driver Mark Webber.

Seven-time champion Schumacher, racing for the first time in three years, was 1.423 seconds off of Vettel's pace to start ahead of defending champion Jenson Button, who was eighth for McLaren.

Red Bull had tested less than its competitors but predictions over the Austrian car's speed was confirmed as Vettel edged Massa — racing for the first time since a near-fatal crash in July — by just over one-tenth of a second and Alonso by half a second.

"It was a big surprise," said Vettel, who is going for win No. 6 from his sixth career pole. "Yesterday I have to admit we were not very happy. I knew there was potential in the car, we just had to put it together. It was really close."

Ferrari was buoyed by the results as it looks to make a strong start after taking only one point from the past two opening races at Melbourne.

"If you look at what happened last season with us, it's a good start to the season," said Massa before turning his attention to his comeback. "I'm here 100 percent and ready to fight. After watching on TV, it's much nicer to be back in the car."

Alonso was happy to be back in the top three and the 2005 and 2006 Bahrain winner said he was not disappointed after looking so strong all winter.

"It's such a long lap and the conditions — it's such a warm condition — it's very difficult to complete that lap without any mistakes or problems," the Spanish driver said of a course that has been stretched by nearly one kilometer (0.62 miles). "So far, everything has been great. This is a big boost for the team."

Schumacher and Button both squeezed into the final qualifying session following quick final laps in the second elimination stint, but Williams and Sauber both missed out.

However, the final result proved disappointing for both former champions, who have triumphed here before — Schumacher in 2004 and Button last year for Brawn GP, which turned into Mercedes.

With spraring their tires in mind, most teams went all out only on their final laps since the top-10 must use exactly same set-up Sunday. Alonso called the changes — which include a ban on refueling — "unknown territory."

"This year the challenge is not attacking and pushing every lap to go as fast as you can," said Vettel, who was runner-up to Button last year. "It's not going to be a sprint tomorrow, it's going to be an endurance competition. So you have to take care of your tires."

Robert Kubica of Renault will start ninth while Force India's Adrian Sutil goes from 10th on the 24-car grid.

Timo Glock of Virgin Racing was fastest of the three new teams, none of which advanced from the first qualifying session.

Karun Chandhok will be on the grid on Sunday after Hispania Racing got the Indian driver's car ready after failing to make it on the circuit for the three practice sessions. Chandhok will start last.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam