Lewis Hamilton added yet another accomplishment to his long list of achievements in Bahrain.
The three-time Formula 1 world champion and two-time winner at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) set a new Qualifying lap record this evening en route to capturing pole position for Sunday’s highly anticipated 2016 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.
Hamilton put himself in prime position to claim a third successive victory in Sakhir and did so in style, leading teammate Nico Rosberg to a Qualifying one-two and locking up the front row for Mercedes.
Hamilton’s record-setting fastest lap was one minute 29.493 seconds, which he registered late in the third and final session of Qualifying (Q3), held under floodlights at “The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East”. He was classified narrowly ahead of Rosberg, who had a best lap of 1:29.570.
Ferrari tandem Sebastian Vettel (1:30.012) and Kimi Raikkonen (1:30.244) were third and fourth, respectively, sealing row two on the grid.
Lewis Hamilton said:
“I was just generally trying to put a good lap together,”
"The car feels great. A big thank you to everyone here and in the factory.”
Hamilton’s new Qualifying lap record eclipses the previous best of 1:29.527 set by Mark Webber in 2005.
Hamilton and Rosberg did just enough to thwart a dangerous challenge from chief rivals Ferrari, who had earlier today set the pace in Practice 3. Rosberg congratulated Hamilton for taking pole but remained positive about his chances of adding to his season-opening victory in Australia a fortnight ago.
Nico Rosberg added during the press conference:
“Lewis just did a great lap in the end there. My lap felt good for first place, but that wasn’t the case. At this track, a lot of things can happen in the race. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities tomorrow.”
Vettel had briefly led Q3, but was quickly demoted by the Mercedes pair. Still, he appeared satisfied with the result.
“Very happy with the car. It felt fantastic; it is only natural as the circuit gets quicker. It’s going to be a long race. Let’s see what happens tomorrow night.”
Joining the Mercedes and Ferrari tandems in Q3 were Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa of Williams, and Nico Hulkenberg of Force India, who will be starting fifth through eighth, respectively, in Sunday’s 57-lap floodlit spectacle.
Formula 1’s new elimination Qualifying system was seen in Bahrain for the first time, and the eliminations in Q1 began with Sauber’s Felipe Nasr. The others to drop out, in the order they were eliminated, were Rio Haryanto of Manor, Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen of Renault, Sergio Perez of Force India, Marcus Ericsson of Sauber and Pascal Wehrlein of Manor.
In Q2, the seven to drop out, also in order of elimination, were Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull Racing, Jenson Button of McLaren, Esteban Gutierrez of Haas, Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren, Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen of Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean of Haas.