Lewis Hamilton claimed pole for tomorrows Bahrain Grand Prix on a 1m29.493s ahead of his teammate Nico Rosberg by seven hundredths and Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel.
The time beats the lap record set by Pedro de la Rosa back in 2005, and was nearly identical to the one set by Rosberg who lost crucial time on the exit of the final corner. Hamilton set the lap on his second run in Q3, having run wide on his first run which put him in fourth provisionally behind both Ferrari’s.
Kimi Raikkonen was out qualified by Vettel again in fourth place, who was five tenths off the pace of Mercedes at the end of the session.
The story of the session however wasn’t about breaking records, instead it was the return of the controversial qualifying format that returned from Melbourne two weeks ago. Much like what was seen last time, the sessions were ending with very little anticipation as to who would be dropping out when.
Wehrlein flatters the pace of his Manor
Q1 provided us with a bit of excitement when Pascal Wehrlein managed to qualify his Manor in 16th place. Force India’s Sergio Perez was ahead on the timesheet when he was setting his lap, and it was clear that the team didn’t expect to see him to improve on his time.
But much like in his DTM days, Wehrlein was able to deliver when the countdown clock reached his name, sending Perez out of Qualifying earlier than Force India anticipated.
Stoffel Vandoorne – who is subbing for Alonso this weekend – also pushed Jolyon Palmer out, despite the Renault driver improving on his lap time when he was in the drop zone. With three minutes on the clock it looked like Q1 was settled, with Nasr, Haryanto, Palmer, Magnussen, Ericsson and Wehrlein all dropping out.
Q2 order decided before dropouts commence
The feared anticlimax hit home during Q2 when all of the drivers went out for one run apart from Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg. When the countdown commenced Kvyat, Button, Gutierrez and Vandoorne had already got out of their cars and headed to the weigh bridge.
Only Hulkenberg was providing us with some action, when he managed to put his Force India into the top ten and demote Sainz, Verstappen and Grosjean into the drop zone. For Haas however it seems they have the option to start on a fresh set of Super Soft tyres, which could mean them going longer in the opening stint and potentially leading the race.
Ricciardo ahead of both Williams drivers
One of the main stories in the final part of qualifying was Daniel Ricciardo getting ahead of both Williams drivers on pace. The Red Bull driver set a lap time which was three tenths quick than Bottas, who once again out-qualified Felipe Massa. However the two Williams drivers do have the benefit of starting on a fresh set of Super Soft tyres, having done runs in the closing stages of Q2.
Once that was sorted the two Ferrari and Mercedes drivers went out for their second runs, which once again ended with three minutes still on the clock.
Lewis could have waved his own chequered flag when the session eventually ended, prompting bitterness from F1 fans on Twitter and the like. Martin Brundle suggested the FIA order a Chinese takeaway for the next race, namely the taking away of this format and replacing it with the older 2015 version.