The 2010 F1 Season finally vroomed off at the Sakhir circuit for the season-opening Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix and the first pole position for what seems like a glorious F1 season was grabbed by Sebastian Vettel for the Red Bull racing team as he ran around the circuit in 1 Min 54.101s. Felipe Massa lines up in P2 with teammate Fernando Alonso in P3.
The top 10 lines up as follows:
- Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull
- Felipe Massa – Ferrari
- Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
- Lewis Hamilton – McLaren
- Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
- Mark Webber – Red Bull
- Michael Schumacher – Mercedes
- Jenson Button – McLaren
- Robert Kubica – Renault
- Adrian Sutil – Force India
Q1 was a see-saw affair (I’ll admit that I was late into catching the telecast 😦 ) The Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were the early pace-setters and were briefly P1 for a while before the Red Bulls of Mark Webber & Sebastian Vettel quickly established them at the top of the timesheets. But Fernando Alonso had the last say as he ended Q1 on P1, with Adrian Sutil of Force India a very credible P3. The ones to face the axe at the end of the first qualifying session included the Toro Rosso of Jaime Algersuari, the two Virgin cars of Timo Glock & Lucas di Grassi, the two Lotuses of Heikki Kovalainen & Jarno Trulli and the two Hispanias of Bruno Senna & Karun Chandhok.
For the past few years, Q2 was the fastest session of them all…with teams running lighter fuel loads and going all out for raw pace. With the race refuelling scrapped this year, it no longer is thus and maybe kinda takes the sheen off the session! Red Bull and Ferrari were again the early pace setters with Vettel, Alonso & Webber topping the timesheets and though almost all the drivers were out on track towards the final minutes of the session, none could make any significant improvement. The ones to fall off at the second hurdle included the Williams of Rubens Barrichello & Nico Hulkenberg, the Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi, the BMW Saubers of Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi, Sebastian Buemi in the second Toro Rosso and the Renault of Vitaly Petrov.
The monopoly of Ferrari and Red Bull on the top of the timesheets continued across Q3 as well, with the former opting for early runs and the latter choosing to come out late. Vettel pulled off a stinging run to go top but the following cars couldn’t quite match it and had to settle for places behind him. The early indications are that Red Bull suffers from a higher tyre wear than the others so it will be highly interesting to watch whether Vettel can transform his pole into a victory.
The returning Michael Schumacher had a rather quiet day with Rosberg easily outpacing him. It was also good to see Massa back on the track after his accident last year. None of the rookies had a blazing day at the track with Nico Hulkenberg the best positioned at 13th. Reigning world champ Jenson Button also had a pretty disappointing session, starting way down the order with the odds of replicating last year’s start-of-the-year heroics looking slim indeed.
The top 10 are separated by a little under 2 seconds and that seems to indicate that the development works are still in progress and as the season rolls into Europe, expect a more bunched up field. Both the Ferraris are at the top and it should be an exciting start to behold, with Vettel trying to hold off the red cars behind.
P.S: Note to the readers – After I penned this all up, I realized this was going along in the same monotonous theme as last year’s! The on-track action has changed a bit so do you think the penning down should be different in any way? Feedback will be appreciated. Tx