Sebastian Vettel continued the tales of the unexpected in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix by beating off the anticipated threats to claim his first pole position of the 2012 campaign.
Although Red Bull had looked more competitive throughout free practice, few expected top spot on the grid to go beyond McLaren or Mercedes, but, as the track continued to evolve, both Mark Webber and Vettel took turns in P1, with Lewis Hamilton only able to slot his McLaren between them at the very end. Vettel thus goes from eleventh on the grid in China to pole position in the space of a week.
Although there will not be a front row lock-out this weekend, the first two ranks appear symmetrical as Webber heads Jenson Button - who aborted his final run - on row two, with practice pacesetter Nico Rosberg only fifth fastest after clipping a kerb towards the end of his final flying lap.
Daniel Ricciardo claimed a career-best sixth on the grid to emphasise the unlikely nature of the line-up, putting his Toro Rosso ahead ahead of the leading Lotus of Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez's Sauber, Fernando Alonso's Ferrari and Paul di Resta's Force India, although the latter pair did not set a time as they attempted to conserve tyres after heavy use in the opening two phases.
Full session report
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