Lewis Hamilton pulled out a blistering lap to take pole position by 0.077 seconds from his team mate Nico Rosberg at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen looked like they could be a threat to the Mercedes domination. As by the end of the first Q3 runs they split Hamilton and Rosberg. Hamilton, however, regained his composure and secured his 51st pole position with a brilliant time of 1:29.493. Rosberg also found more time, and as a result the Mercedes locked out the front row for the eighth consecutive time. Vettel lines up third, 0.517 seconds adrift of Hamilton’s time. Even without Vettel’s mistake in the final corner the gap was just too big for the Ferrari to challenge the Mercedes for pole. But the suggestion is that Vettel and Raikkonen do have the pace to challenge the Mercedes in the race tomorrow. Especially if they pull out a start like they did in Australia.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo qualified best of the rest being the Mercedes and Ferrari’s in 5th. He’s ahead of the Williams cars of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa. While Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg lines up 8th. It was a successful session for the rookie of Stoffel Vandoorne as well, who was able to out qualifying team mate Jenson Button. Button was quicker in the first qualifying session, but Vandoorne was able to beat him by 0.064secs when it mattered. Vandoorne will start the race from 12th while Button starts 14th, with the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez splitting them. Button was quick to praise his rookie team mate. “Q1 was what I was expecting. Q2 he did a good job and I didn’t. Very, very good job. We knew how quick he was.”
Pascal Wehrlein managed an impressive 16th in the under-performing Manor car, surprising many in the paddock. While Ricciardo’s team-mate Daniil Kvyat was eliminated during the second session, way below the team’s expectation in 15th place. The Renault team also had a troublesome qualifying. Kevin Magnussen will start the race from the pits following a penalty for not stopping at the weigh bridge on Friday’s FP2 session. His team mate Jolyon Palmer didn’t fare much better, as he only managed the 19th fastest time.
Qualifying was once again overshadowed by the elimination qualifying not working. As was the case in Australia, drivers were knocked while they were sitting in their cars in their garages. With few cars on track in the closing minutes of the first two sessions. Only one car took to the track in the closing six minutes of Q2. And while Q3 did at least deliver a 2015-style ‘shootout’ as Mercedes and Ferrari went head to head on second runs, the four other cars in the top-eight completed just one fast lap apiece. The situation has prompted FIA president Jean Todt to call an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss scrapping elimination qualifying altogether.
Bahrain GP Qualifying results
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:29.493
2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:29.570
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:30.012
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:30.244
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:30.854
6. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:31.153
7. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:31.155
8. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:31.620
9. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:31.756
10. Max Verstappen, 1:31.772
11. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:31.816
12. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:31.934
13. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:31.945
14. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:31.998
15. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:32.241
16. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:32.806
17. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:32.840
18. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:32.911
19. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:33.181(Magnussen to start race from pit lane)
20. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:33.438
21. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:34.190
22. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:34.388
Feature Image Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Release