Just when Red Bull appeared to be on the cusp of a revival, Sebastian Vettel has failed to qualify inside the top ten for the second time in three races after another difficult session in Bahrain today.
After spinning out during the final practice session on Saturday afternoon, Vettel took to the track during qualifying as night fell with hopes of putting up some kind of challenge to the all-conquering Mercedes and perhaps secure third place on the grid.
However, in the second session, Red Bull opted to keep the defending world champion in the pits and put all of their efforts into one run towards the end of Q2. This plan backfired, though, as Vettel’s lap was only good enough to put him in 11th place, and a slow first sector meant that he could not improve with his second attempt. As a result, he finished in the dropzone and did not take part in the final shootout session that saw Nico Rosberg secure his fifth career pole position.
Over the radio, Vettel lamented a gearbox problem that made it difficult to downshift, but the team is yet to comment on whether there was a problem on his RB10 car.
This marks the second time in three races that Vettel has failed to qualify inside the top ten, after he finished 12th on Saturday in Australia. Interestingly, he bounced back in Malaysia to line up second on the grid and finish the race in third, which appeared to signal Red Bull’s resurgence after a troublesome winter.
Daniel Ricciardo had no such problems, though, as he qualified an excellent third, but he will drop back down to 13th due to a grid penalty.
Vettel will now be focusing on a recovery drive in the race tomorrow, but with the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton setting a quite remarkable pace, he faces a near impossible task of claiming a third straight win in Bahrain.