German driver Sebastian Vettel claimed the first pole position of the 2010 season for his Red Bull Racing team, as he beat the Ferraris to the top spot in Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying.
Felipe Massa got ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso for the outside front row spot, while Michael Schumacher will start his comeback from seventh on the grid, one place ahead of World Champion Jenson Button.
Alonso had held provisional pole early in Q3, as Ferrari was one of the few teams to go for two qualifying runs in the final segment of the session. But Vettel's 1m54.101s was 0.9sec quicker than Alonso's initial best, and proved unbeatable as the rest of the top ten completed their final shots, securing a sixth career pole for the young German. Both Ferraris improved on their second laps, and Massa came out on top, beating Alonso by 0.366sec as the pair took second and third.
Lewis Hamilton's first Q3 lap had been 1.8sec off the Ferraris' pace. He improved on his next run, but was still a second down on Vettel as he took the outside row two slot.
Nico Rosberg was the quickest Mercedes throughout qualifying, claiming fifth while his teammate Michael Schumacher was seventh behind Red Bull's Mark Webber.
Button had a scare in Q2 when his first run left him only 11th. He improved slightly at the second time and just squeezed into Q3 - nudging Rubens Barrichello out of 10th place – before going on to take eighth. Renault's Robert Kubica took ninth, as Force India confirmed its testing promise was real with Adrian Sutil's 10th place.
Barrichello remained 11th for Williams, with Force India's Tonio Liuzzi between the Brazilian and teammate Nico Hulkenberg – who was the highest qualifying rookie as Renault's Vitaly Petrov took 17th behind the Saubers and Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso).
With the new teams always unlikely to make it beyond Q1 at this stage, only one of the early eliminations was set to be an established contender. The struggling Saubers came close to dropping out, but in the end it was Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari who ended up in 18th place, thanks in part to a wild oversteering slide on his last lap that left him half a second away from progressing.
Virgin was the quickest of the newcomers, as Timo Glock just edged out Lotus' Jarno Trulli to take 19th.
Karun Chandhok was finally able to get out on track for Hispania. Unsurprisingly he was 10sec off the pace in what amounted to a high profile shakedown test, but he completed seven laps and lapped within 1.7sec of teammate Bruno Senna, who had at least had chance to get comfortable in the car yesterday.
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Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:55.029 1:53.883 1:54.101
2. Massa Ferrari 1:55.313 1:54.331 1:54.242
3. Alonso Ferrari 1:54.612 1:54.172 1:54.608
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:55.341 1:54.707 1:55.217
5. Rosberg Mercedes 1:55.463 1:54.682 1:55.241
6. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:55.298 1:54.318 1:55.284
7. Schumacher Mercedes 1:55.593 1:55.105 1:55.524
8. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:55.715 1:55.168 1:55.672
9. Kubica Renault 1:55.511 1:54.963 1:55.885
10. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:55.213 1:54.996 1:56.309
11. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:55.969 1:55.330
12. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:55.628 1:55.653
13. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:56.375 1:55.857
14. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:56.428 1:56.237
15. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:56.189 1:56.265
16. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:56.541 1:56.270
17. Petrov Renault 1:56.167 1:56.619
18. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:57.071
19. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:59.728
20. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:59.852
21. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2:00.313
22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 2:00.587
23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 2:03.240
24. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 2:04.904
All Timing Unofficial