Lewis Hamilton tonight claimed his 51st career pole position – his second at the Bahrain International Circuit. Nico Rosberg completed a second Silver Arrows front row lockout from as many races in 2016 with P2. Just 0.077s separated Lewis and Nico tonight – equivalent to a single car length around the 5.412 km Bahrain International Circuit. Tonight’s pole time of 1:29.493 is a new all-time record lap of the Bahrain International Circuit – 0.034s clear of the previous best set by Mark Webber during Saturday practice for the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix and 3.078s quicker than the 2015 pole time. Both drivers completed one run in Q1 and Q2, then two runs in Q3, using SuperSoft tires throughout.
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.
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.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
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.
Source: Mercedes AMG F1