Mercedes locked out the front row for the Bahrain Grand Prix as Nico Rosberg claimed pole position on Saturday, qualifying ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg’s time of 1 minute, 33.185 seconds at the Bahrain International Circuit was a quarter of a second faster than Hamilton, who had to abandon his final flying lap after running wide.
Defending four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel did not even make the final session of qualifying and will start from 10th on the grid — promoted one spot as his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who qualified third, was hit with a 10-place grid penalty.
It was Mercedes’ third straight pole to start the season but the first for Rosberg, who equaled his father Keke with five career poles.
“It has just worked well through the weekend, finding my way, making progress and getting through some issues,” Rosberg said. “I have good memories of this track, winning the GP2 championship and starting my first race in F1. I enjoy coming here and again today, it’s suited me.”
Mercedes, winner of the opening two races of the season, had dominated their rivals over the three practice sessions leading into qualifying, both in day and night conditions, with Sunday’s race to be held at night for the first time.
The only surprise was Rosberg taking pole ahead of Hamilton, who usually thrives in the one-lap format.
“I locked up in the last lap, but generally I am happy for the team,” Hamilton said.”Nico did a great job and naturally I’m happy my teammate is there and not someone else.”
Defending four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel did not even make the final session of qualifying and will start from 10th on the grid — promoted one spot as his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who qualified third, gets a 10-place grid penalty from the previous race in Malaysia.
“The final run for some reason was a bit more difficult, the rears were locking up,” Vettel said. “We had been playing around with it for quite a while. We are still not where we want to be but I don’t want to blame it on that. There was a little bit more in the car which I couldn’t get to, so I am not happy with today.”
Williams driver Valtteri Bottas and Force India’s Sergio Perez qualified fourth and fifth, respectively, and, with the one-place promotion, both equaled their best career starting positions.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen qualified sixth, four places ahead of Fernando Alonso to take the qualifying honors over his teammate for the first time this season.
McLaren’s Jenson Button, contesting his 250th grand prix, qualified in seventh and his teammate Kevin Magnussen was ninth, separated by Felipe Massa of Williams.Bahrain, Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg