Rosberg Leads Mercedes Front Row Sweep
SAKHIR, Bahrain — Formula One world championship point leader Nico Rosberg led a sweep of the front row for Mercedes during qualifying for Sunday night’s Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir Int’l Circuit.
Rosberg turned a one minute and 33.18-second lap to earn his first pole of the season, edging his teammate Lewis
Hamilton, who was a tick slower at one minute and 33.474 seconds.
Rosberg and Hamilton have split the first two races of the season.
Soft tires were the key to speed during the qualifying session held under the lights.
“We just worked well through the weekend, just planning my way and progressing, getting around some issues, understanding what set-up to go for and things like that,” said Rosberg. “The challenge this weekend you know is that the free practice sessions were in such hot conditions mainly, also the one before qualifying and it’s just very difficult and you have to guess sort of what the set-up is and what the car is going to be like in the colder conditions in the evening.
“It worked out well, I was feeling comfortable, I got my laps together. I’m very happy and it’s great to start from pole.”
Hamilton was pleased to qualify second.
“Congratulations to Nico,” Hamilton said. “He’s done a great job this weekend and he’s been improving and picking up his pace and he had a really good at the end there for us. Obviously I made a mistake on my last lap, locked up and went straight on but generally I’m happy. I’m really proud of the team for us to continue to keep moving forward and progressing as we are.”
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo qualified third, but will be assessed a 10-spot grid penalty for an early release from the pits during the Malaysian Grand Prix.
“You know, the temperature drops a lot for these evening sessions and as you probably saw in P3 we were a long way off the pace but it turned around this evening and it was nice to close to gap,” Ricciardo said. “As I say there’s still more. Tomorrow, yeah, unfortunately I don’t stay at the front here but it’ll give me a bit of a work to do and I’ll move forward from there.”
Valtteri Bottas was fourth for Williams-Mercedes, while Sergio Perez qualified fifth for Force India Mercedes, giving Mercedes engines four of the top five spots.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel failed to make the final round of qualifying after setting the 11th fastest time in round two.