MANAMA: Series leader and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton secured his fourth straight pole position of the season on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) when he outpaced all his rivals in qualifying for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 30-year-old Briton, in untouchable form, crushed his opponents’ efforts to stay with him as he delivered a stunning final lap in one minute and 32.571 seconds.
This lifted him clear of Germans Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, on the front row of the grid, and his Mercedes teammate and rival Nico Rosberg, who was third ahead of Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari.
“I feel great, very happy,” he said afterwards. “That was the target, to try to master this track. That’s how it’s gone this weekend. The laps were pretty good, you can always improve, but I’m grateful to have this beast underneath me and really feel I can attack the corners here,” Hamilton added.
The two Williams of Finn Valtteri Bottas and Brazilian Felipe Massa were fifth and sixth ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull and German Nico Hulkenberg of Force India.
Hamilton was four-tenths of a second faster than Vettel and half a second quicker than a disappointed Rosberg, who had been bidding for a third successive Bahrain pole in a bid to rekindle his title challenge after winning just one of the last 12 races.
Despite his mastery, Hamilton con-ce-ded that a revived Ferrari team, led by four-time champion Vettel, would be a major threat on Sunday’s race at the Sakhir circuit.
It was Hamilton’s first pole in Bahrain, the first time he has taken four poles in a row and the 42nd of his career.
The Q1 showdown began with Vettel and Raikkonen hurrying out to begin the session for Ferrari with the Mercedes men soon following to set the preliminary pace on the first runs.