Last gasp Hamilton denies Vettel Bahrain GP pole
Lewis Hamilton blitzed the opposition to secure his fourth consecutive pole position of the season for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver was pushed all the way in a hotly contested qualifying session before the reigning world champion stole pole from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with an impressive final lap.
Vettel confirmed Ferrari as contenders for the race with the German 0.4s adrift, but crucially ahead of the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, who will start third a full half a second slower than rival Hamilton.
Ferrari will occupy the second row with Kimi Raikkonen fourth reiterating the Maranello team’s improved display.
Although delighted to secure four poles in a row for the first time in his career, Hamilton believes Ferrari will be difficult to beat on Sunday.
“We have been over tons of time what we have learned (from Malaysia) but it doesn’t get away from the fact that Ferrari will be hard to beat,” said Hamilton.
“Our positioning does help but we will be taking all the measures necessary to ensure the tyres last as long as they do.
“I think we are in a good position and I’m looking forward to the fight.”
Meanwhile, Rosberg said he underestimated Ferrari’s pace in qualifying while also laying the blame on a strategy misjudgement for his lack of pace.
“I got it wrong strategy wise today,” said Rosberg.
“I was thinking too much about the race and I underestimated Sebastian’s (Vettel) speed and also how much it would cost me by taking it easy in Q2.
“I just lacked rhythm and I had one shot at the end with a new set so that is where I went wrong.
“I’m disappointed because Sebastian beat me, if I was second it would still be damage limitation but being third is not ideal.”
Williams remain the third fastest team with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa locking out the third row in fifth and sixth.
Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo utilised a fresh set of soft compound tyres in Q3 to secure seventh. It proved to be a difficult day for his team-mate Daniil Kvyat, who failed to progress from Q1.
“The start is going to be important and I believe we can have a good one,” said Ricciardo.
“It’s important to stay with the Williams and within DRS and striking range.”
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg emerged in eighth spot ahead of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jnr and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean.
The Saubers of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson will start from 12th and 13th positions respectively having been pushed out of the top shoot out in the dying seconds of Q2.
McLaren endured its best result of the season so far with Fernando Alonso qualifying in 14th position representing the first time the car has progressed to Q2.
However, mechanical issues continued to plague Jenson Button as the Brit suffered a suspected electrical fault which cut the power to his MP4-30 early in Q1.
Result: Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying
|5||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Mercedes||1:33.381s||+0.810s|
|6||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||1:33.744s||+1.173s|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Renault||1:33.832s||+1.261s|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India Mercedes||1:34.450s||+1.879s|
|9||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Toro Rosso Renault||1:34.462s||+1.891s|
|10||Romain Grosjean||Lotus Mercedes||1:34.484s||+1.913s|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:34.704s||Q2|
|12||Felipe Nasr||Sauber Ferrari||1:34.737s||Q2|
|13||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:35.034s||Q2|
|14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||1:35.039s||Q2|
|15||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso Renault||1:35.103s||Q2|
|16||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus Mercedes||1:35.677s||Q1|
|17||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Renault||1:35.800s||Q1|
|18||Will Stevens||Manor Marussia||1:38.713s||Q1|
|19||Roberto Merhi||Manor Marussia||1:39.722s||Q1|
|20||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda||No time|