The 2009 Formula One championship is getting increasingly interesting as each session of each weekend passes. Initially it was Brawn that surprised, promptly followed by the pace of the Red Bull cars in round three. And now we have another candidate for victory in the shape of Toyota driver Jarno Trulli. The Japanese team didn’t just grab the top spot either, but also managed to claim P2 with Timo Glock. Sebastian Vettel looks strong in P3 while Brawn had to settle with P4 and P6.
From the start of qualifying it looked as though Brawn may struggle, the team’s one-lap pace not looking as dominant as their long-run pace. However, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello still kept themselves in mix as the first session caused a little drama for some drivers. As soon as qualifying began, it was clear that Toyota were strong and Jarno Trulli started a small battle with Sebastian Vettel for the first good lap time. This sharing of fastest laps would continue until the the end of the third session, although not in the German driver’s favour.
BMW once again left it until quite late to go out on track and set some lap times, although this time it worked in their favour as both Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld made it through to the second session. Kubica had a small flash fire while getting his tyres changed and fuel topped up in preparation for his final run. It would appear that a small amount of fuel leaked out onto the engine cover and ignited as it was heated from the exhaust. The fire very quickly burned itself out though and the BMW pilot was able to continue.
The biggest drama though came towards the end of the 20 minute stint as Mark Webber was desperately trying to get a decent lap in and move himself out of the relegation zone. The Red Bull pilot found himself among the traffic on this hot lap, and Adrian Sutil moved across the track and essentially baulked the Australian. Sutil was attempting to clear himself out of Webber’s way but both cars moved across together and this ruined the lap for Mark. With the RB5 looking good again this weekend, Webber will be upset with starting down in P19. Adrian Sutil made his way to the Red Bull motorhome to apologise to Webber after the pair had completed their media duties.
Q2 saw the end of the BMWs qualifying session as both Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica couldn’t better their respective P14 and P13 positions. Also suffering the wrath that is known as the bottom five was Nelson Piquet Jr. With pressure on him from all quarters to improve, the young Brazilian could only muster P15 from the Renault, prompting a rather contrite apology over the radio as he toured back to the pitlane.
As he did in Q1, Sebastian Vettel took the fastest lap and appeared to be setting himself up for another pole position. Both Toyotas looked pacey though, as did the Brawns, Hamilton’s McLaren, Alonso’s Renault and Raikkonen’s Ferrari. The fourth placed driver to the eighth placed driver all set 1m32.8xxs laps, proving just how close the pack are when on light fuel and sticky rubber.
The final session saw the Toyota drivers come alive though, and Jarno Trulli – a qualifying expert – was blitzing his way around Sakhir. The first to blink was Timo Glock who set a banker lap of 34.366s. This was promptly beaten by team mate Jarno Trulli with a 34.297s. Trulli’s time would remain at the top of the table until the final runs. Massa, Raikkonen and Rosberg hogged the bottom three position, P8, P9 and P10 respectively.
After a splash-and-dash for everybody, Button was the first to go out and set a lap time with 2 minutes remaining on the clock. The Briton took provisional pole position with a 34.022s, but the Brawn driver was almost immediately demoted by Timo Glock, steering his Toyota to a 33.712s time. Sebastian Vettel could not compete and slotted his Red Bull behind Glock, lapping Sakhir in 1m34.015s. The German Toyota driver looked imperious at the top, until the sector times from Trulli’s car started to appear. The Italian managed to steal the pole from his team mate with a lap time of 1m33.431s; almost 0.3s faster.
This isn’t Trulli’s first pole position, but his most recent was way back in 2005 at the controversial US Grand Prix at Indianapolis. During that race weekend, Toyota driver Ralf Schumacher suffered a heavy accident on the Friday and was replaced with reserve pilot Ricardo Zonta. During qualifying and despite the blame of Schumacher’s accident being blamed on the Michelin tyres that Toyota used, Trulli took pole position. Unfortunately for the fans, Toyota and the other Michelin-shod teams did not partake in the event.
For Bahrain though, it is almost certain the race will go ahead tomorrow and Jarno Trulli will be wanting to secure the second victory of his Formula One career. Timo Glock will also want to try and get the legs on Trulli as they thunder around the opening lap. Vettel looks strong in the Red Bull as well and as we saw in Shanghai, the RB5 has superb pace. Brawn will want to claim another victory so as to ensure they keep a strong margin to those behind them in the constructors championship.
- The qualifying results can be viewed here: Bahrain 2009: Qualifying Result.
- The live qualifying notes can be viewed here: Bahrain 2009: Live Qualifying Notes.
- The grid (inclusive of penalties) can be viewed here: Bahrain 2009: The Grid.
- The post-qualifying car weights can be viewed here: Bahrain 2009: Post-Qualifying Car Weights