Mercedes' dominance continues as Nico Rosberg wins pole position in Bahrain
German heads off teammate Lewis Hamilton in Saturday's qualifying sessions
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardio is third but will start Sunday's race in 13th place
Bahrain organizers celebrating 10th anniversary with race under lights for first time
Nico Rosberg vowed to put on a “fantastic show” at Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix after ending Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton’s dominance of qualifying.
Formula One has been criticized for becoming boring in recent years due to Sebastian Vettel’s all-conquering Red Bull, but this season the Mercedes team has taken center stage following a raft of new rule changes.
While Vettel failed to make the final session on Saturday – the second time in three race weekends so far the four-time world champion has suffered such fate – championship leader Rosberg and 2008 titleholder Hamilton lined up for a shootout in Q3.
It was the German who prevailed, denying Hamilton a third successive pole position after the Englishman locked up his wheels on turn one as the last driver still out on the track.
“We’re here to put on a great show,” Rosberg told reporters. “You could see some action tomorrow between us. Hopefully not, but it’s very possible.
“We owe it to the fans, to everybody, to put on a fantastic show, and that’s what we’ll do.”
The quieter V6 engines being used this year have left many, including F1’s boss Bernie Ecclestone, lamenting a lack of atmosphere.
For the past three years, Bahrain has been one of the most tense dates on the calendar, following the civil unrest which forced the cancellation of the 2011 race.
There were reports of peaceful protests outside of Manama on Friday, but organizers were looking forward to a trouble-free celebration of the 10th anniversary of the event – with the 57-lap race to be held at night under lights for the first time.
Vettel has won the race for the past two years, but will start 10th on the grid after new teammate Daniel Ricciardo dropped from third in qualifying thanks to a 10-place penalty from last weekend’s grand prix in Malaysia.
Hamilton, who won at Sepang after failing to finish the season-opener in Australia, will be ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Force India’s Sergio Perez.
McLaren’s Jenson Button will start his 250th career GP in sixth behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, whose teammate Fernando Alonso – a three-time Bahrain winner – will be ninth.
Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa will start seventh for Williams ahead of McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen.