F1 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix: Hamilton’s tyre worries
PUBLISHED: 10:10 21 April 2013 | UPDATED: 15:12 21 April 2013
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton starts today’s (Sunday’s) 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix from ninth on the grid with tyre wear likely to play a huge part in the race.
Despite qualifying fourth fastest at the Sakhir circuit on Saturday, the 28-year-old Mercedes F1 star from Hertfordshire will line-up on the fifth row alongside McLaren’s Jenson Button after taking a five-place grid drop.
Hamilton was penalised after requiring a gearbox change following Saturday’s third free practice session, a piece of debris on the track causing a left-rear tyre failure, which led to suspension and gearbox damage.
In spite of these setbacks, the 2008 F1 world champion still qualified in fourth place as Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg took the second pole position of his career.
Speaking after qualifying, Hamilton said: “I couldn’t quite find the pace today and with losing five places from changing the gearbox, we’ve got a tough challenge ahead starting from ninth place.
2103 Bahrain Grand Prix grid positions
Qualifying result after grid penalties
1 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
3 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
4 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
5 Paul di Resta (Force India)
6 Adrian Sutil (Force India)
7 Mark Webber (Red Bull) *
8 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
9 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) *
10 Jenson Button (McLaren)
(* grid penalties)
“These things happen and I’ll do my best tomorrow [Sunday].
“The best chance to gain some positions will come at the start and then we’ll see how it goes.
“Tyre degradation will be a huge factor so it’s going to be a very interesting race.”
Despite bagging Mercedes’ second successive pole position, after Hamilton’s in China last week, Rosberg is aware today’s race will be a “different story”.
Rosberg, who lines up on the front row alongside Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, said: “It will be difficult, especially with the rear tyres, and we know that other teams were stronger than us on the long runs on Friday.
“It will be a big challenge to stay ahead but starting from the front helps.”
Mercedes director Toto Wolff praised both his drivers after qualifying but isn’t taking anything for granted in round four of the FIA World Championship.
“First and fourth places were a strong result this afternoon and we have to be very happy with Nico’s pole position,” said Wolff. “He did a great job and both of his timed laps in Q3 would have put him on pole position.
Bahrain Grand Prix facts
* Race distance: 57 laps (308.238km/191.539 miles)
* Start time: 15:00 (local)/12:00 (GMT)
* Circuit length: 5.412km/3.363 miles
* 2012 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing RB8) 57 laps in 1hr35m10.990s
* 2012 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing RB8) 1m32.422s
* Lap record: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m30.252s
“Lewis has had a more difficult and disrupted weekend so far, so qualifying was all about damage limitation for him, which he managed to do extremely well.
“However, we should be under no illusions about tomorrow [Sunday]. It will be a very tough race and it will be important for us to race hard in order to get both cars to the finish in strong positions.”
McLaren man Button will start the 2013 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix from 10th after not setting a time in Q3 and downplayed his chances of challenging for a podium.
He said: “The team is used to fighting at the front, so it’s the little things – like getting through into Q3 – that can make a positive difference.
“Of course, it’s going to be a tough race tomorrow, though. I’ll race as quickly as I can, but I don’t want people to expect too much from us.
“However, there are positives to be drawn from today: we out-qualified a Lotus, which was a surprise, and I’ll be driving the first car starting on new tyres.
“As in China, that brings a slight strategic advantage, so I’m hoping we can have another decent outing.”
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