Hamilton takes pole as qualifying system disappoints again

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Lewis Hamilton has secured his second consecutive pole position of the season, marginally topping team mate Nico Rosberg who will join him on the front row of Sunday's starting grid. Vettel was third fastest, but all talk was essentially about the elimination qualifying system that failed to show improvement over Australia.

Giving the elimination qualifying format another try, the top teams were, just like in Australia, out at the very start of the session to immediately set a banker and be certain of a place in Q2. The Mercedes drivers went fastest on their first attempts, with Ricciardo second, followed by Vettel, Bottas and Massa.

Behind them, positions changed throughout Q1, but it was Nasr who got eliminated first, having made a braking mistake on turn 1. With the new system, that's almost impossible to sort out, so he will find himself at the back of the grid at the start of Sunday's race.

Haryanto was predictably next, with Perez, Ericsson, Magnussen and Palmer following suit. Both Toro Rosso drivers only just managed to complete their first laps in time to avoid starting from the back of the grid while Wehrlein completed two attempts during Q1 to end up on an impressive 16th fastest time.

At the start of Q2, Ferrari and Mercedes were again the first out on track to be out of the mix quickly, followed by everybody else, as a pure necessity to be able to record a time before the clock hits zero for the first elimination. With everybody having done a lap, Kvyat was 15th, followed by Button, Gutierrez, Vandoorne, Sainz, Verstappen and Grosjean.

In fact, due to the elimination system, halfway into the session, only Hulkenberg was running, making it even worse than the qualifying spectacle it was at Australia. Grosjean however surprised again by putting his Haas in 9th place while Stoffel Vandoorne managed to outqualify his World Champion team mate Jenson Button on only his second day in the car. Still, for McLaren, this ended up being a disappointing session, as they had hoped that updates would enable them to target Q3.

Q3 was of course a bit of the same in the early stages, as Hulkenberg, having set the slowest initial lap, was immediately eliminated and certain of 8th position on the grid. With too little time left, Bottas and Massa were also sure of their positions, and the same was valid for Ricciardo, who was stopped for weighing on his return to the pits, and therefore unable to make a second outing.

The other four did another lap. On their first attempts, Rosberg proved fastest, ahead of Vettel, Raikkonen and Hamilton. The latter was 7 tenths down on his teammate, but improved by more than a second on his next lap, setting purple sectors that nobody else could match.

Again, that meant that pole and all positions were decided with almost 3 minutes left on the clock.

Results

Pos.No.DriverTeamQ1Q2Q3Laps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:31.3911:30.0391:29.49314
26Nico RosbergMercedes AMG1:31.3251:30.5351:29.57013
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1:31.6361:30.4091:30.01214
47Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:31.6851:30.5591:30.24414
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing1:31.4031:31.1221:30.85412
677Valtteri BottasWilliams1:31.6721:30.9311:31.15312
719Felipe MassaWilliams1:32.0451:31.3741:31.15510
827Nico HulkenbergForce India1:31.9871:31.6041:31.62015
98Romain GrosjeanHaas1:32.0051:31.756-9
1033Max VerstappenToro Rosso1:31.8881:31.772-9
1155Carlos SainzToro Rosso1:31.7161:31.816-9
1247Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1:32.4721:31.934-9
1321Esteban GutierrezHaas1:32.1181:31.945-9
1422Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:31.9761:31.998-9
1526Daniil KvyatRed Bull Racing1:32.5591:32.241-9
1694Pascal WehrleinManor1:32.806--6
179Marcus EricssonSauber1:32.840--6
1811Sergio PerezForce India1:32.911--7
1920Kevin MagnussenRenault1:33.181--3
2030Jolyon PalmerRenault1:33.438--6
2188Rio HaryantoManor1:34.190--3
2212Felipe NasrSauber1:34.388--4

Note - Magnussen will start the race from the pit lane as penalty for failing to stop for a mandatory weight check during FP2.