Qualifying is over and the critics of the new (and hopefully soon to be old) system have again had a field day. Whatever system is used though; we’ve ended up with the familiar situation of the two Mercedes followed by a pair of Ferrari drivers.
After the problems with the new qualifying format in Australia, it looked as if we’d seen the back of it. Sadly, that wasn’t to be and again we had to endure the sight of no cars on the track towards the end of the final qualifying section. Fans don’t pay to watch an empty track, especially when some travel thousands of miles to watch the action or lack of it. Don’t they realize we loved those dying moments of qualifying when a driver tried to improve his position on the grid and perhaps even snatch pole position?
At least we did get something approaching that with Hamilton leaving it late to clinch pole. Reaction was again critical with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff simply describing it as “terrible.”
The German driver thought he was going to get pole but still believes he’ll put up a strong challenge to his teammate: “This track is where pole counts least I think. There are still a lot of opportunities.”
Hamilton had a mixed qualifying after making a mistake on the final corner on his first lap. He showed what a champion he is though by managing to produce the fastest ever lap seen on the Bahrain track.
Ferrari fill third (Vettel) and fourth (Raikkonen) place and Vettel is confident of a good performance on Sunday: “There isn’t one place on the track where the car doesn’t feel right. Step by step we’re getting there. We know what to do, so we’ll see. It’s a long race and let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Stoffel Vandoorne is making his debut this weekend after injury forced Fernando Alonso to miss this weekend. He’s got off to a great start and will be starting 12th on the grid in his McLaren, two places ahead of Jenson Button. He wasn’t too pleased with that saying after qualifying:” Not a great lap. We had a chance of Q3. Whether or not we would have got in I don’t know. Hopefully tomorrow we will do better than in qualifying.”
So what’s likely to happen on Sunday? Lewis Hamilton will be starting on pole for the second race in a row but can he turn that into a win unlike in Australia. Nico Rosberg has had a good couple of days and it looks as if he’s going to be giving Hamilton a lot more trouble this year as he tries to build on his strong finish last season.
Ferrari have shown glimpses of their pace this season and if they can get off to the kind of start they did in Australia; this could be a fascinating race.