Overall, it was a positive qualifying session for Scuderia Toro Rosso, the final one of 2014. It’s also Daniill Kvyat’s last weekend with us and he did us and himself proud with a very strong performance, to put his STR9 on the fourth row of the grid in seventh place. To finish ahead of both McLarens and both Ferraris is something he can take with him as a nice souvenir of his time with us. Obviously, he plans to capitalise on that excellent job this afternoon in tomorrow’s race.
As for his team-mate, Jean-Eric Vergne was unlucky not to make the cut into Q3. He looked to be safely heading that way, until a slight error at the final turn cost him the couple of tenths that meant he has to settle for twelfth. However, the Frenchman is confident in his car’s abilities when in race trim, so we can expect a charging performance from Jev tomorrow night.
Nico Rosberg continued his run of pole positions here in the desert, taking his eleventh of the year in the Mercedes and he shares the front row with team-mate Lewis Hamilton. It means the Englishman can afford to sit behind the German and “only” finish second to take his second world championship crown. For those of you who like statistics, this is the first time that one engine manufacturer has taken pole at every race in a season, since Ford in 1969.
The similarly powered Williams cars were quick as usual, with Valtteri Bottas setting the third fastest time ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa. The two-by-two scenario continues on row 3, which belongs to Red Bull, with Daniel Ricciardo fifth ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Daniil shares his row with Jenson Button in the McLaren, while Jev sits on the outside of the Englishman’s team-mate, Kevin Magnussen on row 6.
Tomorrow’s 55 lap race will be an interesting one strategically, with the harder Soft tyre looking like the better race choice. Daniil has to start on the Supersofts that he used in Q2, as per the regulations, while Jev, outside the top ten, gets a free choice. The options are to get rid of the Supersofts quickly and then run a two stop race fitting Softs both times, or to save the Supersofts for the final stages when the track is at its coolest.