Manama: Nico Rosberg took his first pole position of the season capitalising on a mistake by teammate Lewis Hamilton that robbed fans of the prospect of a hard-fought battle between the two dominant Mercedes in qualifying for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.
Mercedes driver Nico Roseberg during the Bahrain GP weekend. Pic/Imagelibrary/EPA
Rosberg lapped the floodlit circuit on the outskirts of Bahrain's capital here in one minute 33.185 seconds, denying Hamilton his third straight pole by nearly three tenths of a second.
Both Rosberg's and Hamilton's fastest times were set on their first outings in the final part of the hour-long session with the German aborting his second attempt after his teammate, the only man who could have snatched pole from him, locking up and going off the circuit bringing an anti-climactic end to qualifying.
Red Bull's Ricciardo is third
Behind the two Mercedes, Daniel Ricciardo led Red Bull's charge, the Australian setting the third fastest time albeit nearly a second slower than the two Mercedes. But the 24-year-old carries a ten-place grid penalty over from the last race in Malaysia and will start thirteenth.
His teammate, reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, who had finished on the podium last week, caused a major upset when he failed to make it through to the top-ten shootout. The four-time world champion set the eleventh fastest time and seemed to be visibly struggling with his RB10 all session.
Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, who will start third as a result of Ricciardo's penalty, set the fourth fastest time ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez who made it four Mercedes-powered cars in the top five.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen set the sixth quickest time ahead of McLaren driver Jenson Button, the second Williams of Felipe Massa and McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen. Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10.