Date: 21st April 2013 at 7:43am
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Nico Rosberg has stormed to a shock pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg has stormed to a shock pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix, securing Mercedes?s first back-to-back pole position since 1955 when Sir Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio secured pole for the British and Italian Grands Prix. The German will start the race alongside fellow countryman Sebastian Vettel.

After an eventful third and final practice session earlier in the day, many were expecting another intriguing qualifying hour. The all-important session got underway in hot weather conditions, however once again no driver immediately opted to take to the track. Eventually the Sauber duo of Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg took to the track, with the duo therefore setting the first timed laps of the opening qualifying segment. Soon enough the majority of the field finally took to the track, with the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne rising to the top with a 01:34.314.

Nico Rosberg soon stormed to the top for Mercedes, with a 01:33.364. He would be the German marque?s only chance of starting on pole position for the 57-lap race, with his team-mate of Lewis Hamilton incurring a five-place grid penalty after a gearbox change after practice three. Fernando Alonso was quick to return to the top for Ferrari, after a competitive display of pace during practice three.

As the opening segment of qualifying drew to a conclusion, Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez joined the usual suspects of Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton in being eliminated from proceedings. This means Esteban Gutierrez will start tomorrow?s race from 22nd and last due to incurring a five-place grid penalty.

The second qualifying segment began with the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg and Red Bull of Mark Webber becoming the first drivers to take to the track. The duo were joined by the reigning World Champion of Sebastian Vettel, as Nico Hulkenberg set the initial pace for the Hinwil-based outfit. Mark Webber instantly thwarted the German driver?s time with a 01:33.907, before his team-mate of Sebastian Vettel then asserted his authority over proceedings.

As the second session progressed, the benchmark at the top continued to be lowered, as the Force India of Paul di Resta impressed many by rising to the top with a 01:33.335. Fernando Alonso and then Nico Rosberg returned to the top as times continued to tumble, before Sebastian Vettel blitzed the opposition with a 01:32.746. Adrian Sutil managed to progress into the top ten shootout, as the checkered flag emerged signaling the end of the session. This saw Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Jean-Eric Vergne eliminated from proceedings.

After a frenetic end to the second segment of qualifying, many were expecting an exciting top ten shootout. And exciting it was, as all ten of the competing drivers took to the track in a bid to battle for the coveted pole position. Paul di Resta and Nico Rosberg became the first two drivers to take to the track, as the latter set the initial benchmark with a 01:32.543. The drivers then returned for new tyres, before returning to the track. Every driver except Felipe Massa took to the track on the medium tyres, as Nico Rosberg continued to ignite the timing screens as he set a 01:32.330.

The German?s unbelievably quick time at the top went unbeaten as the session drew to a close, with reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel slotting into 2nd position. Fernando Alonso qualified a competitive 3rd for Ferrari, and will start alongside team-mate Felipe Massa on the grid once Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber serve their grid penalties. This slightly unexpected grid for he 57-lap race will undoubtedly see another thrilling race around the Bahrain International Circuit, with many drivers all likely to secure victory.

Author: Andy Young

TWITTER: @AndyYoungF1


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