Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Lewis Hamilton took a dominant pole position in qualifying for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit.
The reigning world champion set a blistering lap time of 1m 29.493s beating the previous lap record set by Mark Webber. Speaking after claiming the 51st pole position and his second in Bahrain, Hamilton stated:
I’m really happy with that – the last lap was so much fun! Throughout practice and most of qualifying my laps weren’t quite perfect and Nico would be ahead by a tenth here and a tenth there – whatever it might be. So, to finally put it all together when it counted was really satisfying – and quite a relief! There was big pressure too, as I went off on the previous lap and knew I had to make a big improvement. A massive thank you to everyone here at the track and also back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth for this car. It’s really very special. It will be important to get a good start tomorrow, like always, especially as there’s a longer run down to turn one here than in Melbourne. It’s something we’ve been working on – but we’ve only had a couple of weeks since the last race, so I don’t expect big improvements. Hopefully it’s better than last time – we’ll see.
Points leader Nico Rosberg had looked on target to claim pole but in the end he had to settle for second place ending the session 0.077s behind Hamilton and speaking following qualifying, Rosberg commented by saying:
My lap felt good and I was sure that I had got pole when I crossed the line – but then the guys told me that Lewis was just a bit quicker. He did an incredible lap at the end, so a good job from him. The good news for me is that this is one of the tracks where pole position counts for the least. Strategy tomorrow will be important and maybe even quite messy, so there are still a lot of opportunities. You have a few more places to overtake here than at other tracks too, so I’m quite confident for tomorrow. Tyres are going to be a big issue. We have softer tyres here than last year and it will be interesting to see how long they last and when they will start graining. It should be an entertaining race, so I’m looking forward to it.
Mercedes Head of Motorsport Toto Wolff commented by saying:
Leaving aside any comment on the qualifying format itself, the actual battle today between our two cars – and also between ourselves and Ferrari – was very close and really exciting. It was only in the final part of Q2 and Q3 that Lewis and Nico hooked everything up – and for Lewis it came down to his final Q3 lap after he ran wide on his first run. What he produced was a stunning lap, the fastest ever on this circuit – quicker even than the V10 era – and more than three seconds faster than last year’s pole. Really impressive. Nico came very close to beating it and fell less then a tenth short in the end after his fastest lap of the session. My feelings about this qualifying format haven’t changed and there is nothing to add to what I’ve already said about it. Now we focus on tomorrow’s race, on getting off the line well – and what I am sure will be a very tight battle with Ferrari.
Mercedes Executive Director Technical Paddy Lowe commented by saying:
A fantastic competition between our two drivers and the two Ferraris – the result of having four cars very close in performance here. There was a lot of excitement building up to those second Q3 runs, with Lewis making a mistake in the final corner and adding extra pressure to his second lap. All four cars made it out for another run and it was a closely fought thing, with terrific laps from Lewis and Nico to lock out the front row. There’s a great sense of pride in seeing this car set an all-time lap record tonight. There’s a lot of negative talk around at the moment, with suggestions that these cars aren’t fast or exciting enough. In fact, they’re now proving to be quicker than those of the V10 era – previously the fastest machines in Formula One history. All credit to the men and women on both the chassis and Power Unit side of this project for their innovative, record-breaking work.