Lewis Hamilton has edged his teammate Nico Rosberg for pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix, breaking the lap record set by Mark Webber with a three-litre V10 engine back in 2005.

After making a mistake during his first flying lap on the final corner, Hamilton was able to recover and demote Rosberg to second position by just 0.077 seconds. Final practice pace-setter Sebastian Vettel briefly held provisional pole, although it was a false dawn as he dropped to third and over half-a-second off Hamilton’s benchmark.

Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen took fourth position, while an elated Daniel Ricciardo qualified his Red Bull Racing RB12 in fifth, albeit 1.5 seconds off the pace. On the other side of the Red Bull garage, Daniil Kvyat got caught out once again by the new format and will start the race in fifteenth position.

Unfortunately, while we should be celebrating the success of the V6 power units and how much they’ve progressed, the story of qualifying was again about the new horrendous format.

In Q1 the front runners were only on track for half of the session, while the drivers being eliminated were sitting in their garage watching their names being progressively crossed off the list.

Pascal Wehrlein enjoyed a massively impressive qualifying, finishing his session in sixteenth position and narrowly missing out on Q2. Wehrlein’s efforts was the best result for Manor Racing since Jules Bianchi reached Q2 at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix.

Force India’s Sergio Pérez found himself in the dropout zone with no time to improve, which saw the Mexican eliminated in 18th position ahead of the two Renault drivers.

It was a similar story in Q2 where all of the drivers took to the track on the Super Soft tyre to put their banker laps in, then returned to the garage because there was little to fight for, especially since starting ninth or below gives the drivers a free choice of tyre compounds for the start of the race.

Nico Hülkenberg made his way to the track and was the only driver to attempt to improve his lap time. The German succeeded and got his Force India out of the elimination zone and into the final part of qualifying.

Both Williams cars briefly made an appearance late in the Q2 session, which caused confusion through the paddock as both drivers were safely through. Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams later stated that Williams sent their drivers out “for the good of the sport”.

Filling in for the injured Fernando Alonso, McLaren reserve Stoffel Vandoorne out-qualified teammate Jenson Button on his Formula 1 debut by six one-hundredths of a second.

Both Haas F1 drivers, Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez, made it out of Q1 and qualified ninth and thirteenth respectively in an impressive showing.

Q3 Qualifiers Team / Entry Result Gap
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid 1:29.493
2. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid 1:29.570 + 0.077
3. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H 1:30.012 + 0.519
4. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H 1:30.244 + 0.751
5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12 1:30.854 + 1.361
6. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 1:31.153 + 1.660
7. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 1:31.155 + 1.662
8. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 1:31.620 + 2.127
Q2 Qualifiers Team / Entry Result Gap**
9. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16 1:31.756 + 1.717
10. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 1:31.722 + 1.682
11. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 1:31.816 + 1.777
12. Stoffel Vandoorne be McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:31.934 + 1.895
13. Esteban Gutiérrez Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16 1:31.945 + 1.906
14. Jenson Button McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:31.998 + 1.959
15. Daniil Kvyat ru Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12 1:32.241 + 2.202
Q1 Qualifiers Team / Entry Result Gap*
16. Pascal Wehrlein de Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 1:32.806 + 1.481
17. Marcus Ericsson Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 1:32.840 + 1.515
18. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 1:32.911 + 1.586
19. Kevin Magnussen^ dk Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 1:33.181 + 1.856
20. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 1:33.438 + 2.113
21. Rio Haryanto id Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 1:34.190 + 2.865
22. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 1:34.388 + 3.063

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:31.325 posted by Nico Rosberg
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:30.039 posted by Lewis Hamilton
^ Kevin Magnussen will start from the pit lane for failing to stop when instructed at the FIA weighbridge during FP2

Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas

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Josh Kruse

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