Mercedes, Force India, Williams Perform Well in Bahrain Qualifying

Sakhir – This year’s Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix is one to be remembered. Firstly, 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Formula 1’s entrance into the Middle East and the Bahrain Grand Prix. Secondly, and perhaps offering more excitement, this marks the first time that the racing will take place after dark in Bahrain, adding it to the ever-growing list of night races alongside Singapore and Abu Dhabi. Equally exciting however was the 3 qualifying sessions undertaken by the teams in preparation for tomorrow’s race.

Q1 was highlighted by the surprisingly strong performance by both Force India drivers, in particular German Nico Hülkenberg, who quickly made his way to the top of the leaderboard. Hülkenberg, who could very well find himself with a top-tier ride in the next few years, proved himself more than able to keep the Mercedes, Ferraris, Red Bulls, McLarens, and Williamses at bay.

At the end of Q1 the usual suspects at Caterham and Marussia found themselves at the bottom, this time joined by the unfortunate Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado of Lotus and German Adrian Sutil of Sauber.

Q2 was equally impressive and exciting, with strong performances from especially the Mercedes, with both Nico Rosberg (GER) and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) finishing the session at 1, 2. They were closely followed by Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull. Arguably the most shocking moment of the session came at the chequered flag when the reigning world champion, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (GER), finished in 11th and his fellow German, Q1 leader Nico Hülkenberg finished in 12th, eliminating them from the top 10 seat needed to enter the final qualifying round of the day.

Q3 in some ways seemed predetermined, considering how much faster the two Mercedes cars are in comparison to the rest of the pack thus far in 2014. Positions 3 through 10 were left to be determined, however, as the rest of the remaining field seemed evenly matched to the challenge. The McLarens of Jenson Button (GBR) and Kevin Magnussen (DEN) qualified fairly well in 7th and 9th respectively, with Williams’ Felipe Massa (BRA) sandwiched between them. One major surprise of the qualifying results was just how high Force India’s Sergio Pérez (MEX) and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas (FIN) came, with 4th and 5th places respectively.

However, poor luck once again struck the Red Bull paddock, as their Australian driver, Daniel Ricciardo will have to serve a 10-spot grid penalty resulting from him retiring from last Sunday’s race in Malaysia prior to serving a drive-through penalty for leaving the pit with an unsecured tyre. Hopefully the Australian’s luck will return to him here in Bahrain and from here on out in 2014. Likewise, Sauber’s Adrian Sutil will start the race from the back of the grid due to a 5-place grid penalty placed upon him for holding up Lotus’ Romain Grosjean (FRA) in an “unsafe manner” according to F1.com.

The starting grid for Sunday’s Gulf Air Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix are as follows:

  1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes (Germany)
  2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (Great Britain)
  3. Valtteri Bottas, Williams (Finland)
  4. Sergio Pérez, Force India (Mexico)
  5. Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari (Finland)
  6. Jenson Button, McLaren (Great Britain)
  7. Felipe Massa, Williams (Brazil)
  8. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren (Denmark)
  9. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari (Spain)
  10. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull (Germany)
  11. Nico Hülkenberg, Force India (Germany)
  12. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso (Russia)
  13. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull (Australia)
  14. Jean-Éric Vergne, Toro Rosso (France)
  15. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber (Mexico)
  16. Romain Grosjean, Lotus (France)
  17. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus (Venezuela)
  18. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham (Japan)
  19. Jules Bianchi, Marussia (France)
  20. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham (Sweden)
  21. Max Chilton, Marussia (Great Britain)
  22. Adrian Sutil, Sauber (Germany)

The 2014 F1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will start at 18:00 Kuala Lampur (10:00 Chicago, 15.00 London) and will be broadcast live in the United States in English on NBC Sports at 10.00 y en Español en diferido en Univision Deportes a las 10.00 y 04.00 en Lunes. All US times are in Central Time. In Canada at 10.55 Eastern on TSN in English et il sera dans le même temps sur RDS en français. In the United Kingdom it will be broadcasted at 22.00 on BBC2 and at 14.30 on Sky Sports 1. In Australia it will be broadcasted at 00.15 on Ten.

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