F1: Bahrain hosts first ever night-time qualifying with a Mercedes Petronas one two
Sakhir, April 5, 2014 – Held for the first time in the evening, under spectacular lights, the Bahrain Grand Prix also hosted the first completely dry qualifying session of 2014 from start to finish.
With free practice revealing a gap of more than a second between the medium and soft compounds, the priority for the front runners was to get to Q3 while keeping as many sets of the softer compound fresh for the race as possible. In the past, this would have led to teams limiting their running in Q3. However, a new rule campaigned for by Pirelli this year has allowed the teams an extra set of softer compound running for Q3 only, meaning that all the top 10 were out on track. The teams that do not go through to Q3 are not disadvantaged, as they are allowed to use the extra set during the race.
The challenge of qualifying, particularly in the dry when full power can be used, has been increased this year due to the new power units. It is no longer possible to drive two consecutive flying laps at full power, due to the energy recovery units needing to replenish themselves. This has an effect on the tyre, which needs to deliver its ultimate performance over just one flying lap this year.
Despite the radical new 2014 cars, Nico Rosberg’s pole position of 1m33.185s was within just one second of last year’s pole time – which was also set by the German Mercedes driver.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Track temperature dropped steadily throughout the session, which is what we would expect for the race tomorrow, meaning that the quickest times were set right at the end. However, we were able to see all 10 cars out on track throughout Q3, which shows that the new tyre rules are working and fans are getting to see action from start to finish. We’ve also seen plenty of track evolution over the last couple of days, which has increased grip levels. We’d expect the soft to be the main race tyre, with between two to three pit stops, but the teams will need to adapt the order in which they use the tyres to the characteristics of their cars and the prevailing conditions. ”
Nico Rosberg-It’s fantastic to be on pole again here in Bahrain. I really enjoy the track and I won my GP2 Series title here so it has some pretty special memories for me. We’ve had a good weekend so far and I’ve been able improve my pace throughout the practice sessions so I was hoping for a strong qualifying. It’s so difficult to get everything completely right with all the new technology and set-up requirements on the car but I felt really comfortable this evening and was able to put some great laps together. I’m looking forward to the race as I had a good run on high fuel but we’re going to need to be careful with tyre degradation.
Lewis Hamilton-Second place is pretty good for us today. I made a mistake on my last lap which was a shame but it’s great for the team to have both cars on the front row. They’ve done a fantastic job this weekend with the set-up simulations and we did a lot of testing here before the season started which has helped. The car has felt good so far but I definitely felt more comfortable in practice than I did this evening in qualifying. I’m not really sure why but we’ll have a good look at the data tonight and see if there is anything we can identify before the race tomorrow. Congratulations to Nico today, he’s done a great job so far this weekend and nailed a really quick lap in qualifying. I’m happy that it’s my team-mate there on pole and not someone else!
Toto Wolff-To have both cars occupy the front row for the first time this season is a great achievement for the team. As we’ve seen all weekend, we are fortunate to have two drivers at the top of their game. They are pushing each other every step of the way and driving our team forwards with them. Our performance this weekend has been strong throughout the practice sessions and we must now maintain it through the biggest challenge of all in tomorrow evening’s race. No matter how satisfied you might be on Saturday, Sunday can be an entirely different scenario. We have seen some strong performances from our competitors tonight and there is no room for complacency.
Paddy Lowe-It’s extremely satisfying to see that our car has the performance to take both slots on the front row for the first time under these new regulations. Our pace was evident from the beginning of Q1 and it was good to watch our drivers competing so closely throughout the sessions. Nico drove a superb lap on his first run in Q3 and Lewis clearly sensed he had to push to the limit to match his team-mate. Unfortunately this lead to a mistake at the first corner but his initial lap was still good enough to maintain second. It’s been a good day and we look forward to seeing if we can match that performance in the race tomorrow.
RedBull-Daniel Ricciardo-“Today was nice, tomorrow will be less nice with the ten place penalty, but I was really happy with qualifying. I think through all the runs and on both tyres I was happy with my performance. We may have saved one set of tyres compared to the others, so that’s good, hopefully I’m going to need it tomorrow for coming through the pack; hopefully it will help us. I did the best I could today, so for that I’m pleased. I think Seb and I will both be charging hard tomorrow and will aim to put on a good race.”