Rosberg on pole as trouble hits for Hamilton

Rosberg Russia qualifying 2016

Championship leader Nico Rosberg achieved his twenty-four career pole position in Formula 1 with ease at Sochi, while a power unit failure affected his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in taking part in the shoot out for P1.

Hamilton had a slight edge over his title rival in the first part of qualifying, but was trailing by nearly half a second in Q2 when he suffered a recurrence of the MGU-H failure that ruined his efforts at Shanghai.

That left Hamilton tenth and without a lap time in Q3, while Rosberg enjoyed a clear path to the front, beating Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari to the top spot by more than seven tenths of a second.

To further Hamilton’s misery, he faces a trip to the race stewards to explain why he failed to follow the proper procedure for rejoining from the Turn 2 run-off area after a Q1 error.

Rosberg was able to lap the Sochi circuit in one minute, 35 seconds mark in Q2 and Q3 comfortably. The Mercedes driver was on for a better lap at the end of Q3 before locking up his brakes and running off track at the end of the long back straight.

Vettel chipped his way into the low one minute, 36 seconds, but the team and the new, updated combustion power unit had no answer for the Silver Arrows’ impressive speed.

Vettel will start seventh following a penalty for changing his gearbox after Friday practice.

That means Williams driver Valtteri Bottas will enjoy his first front row start since the 2014 German Grand Prix, after outpacing fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen by 0.127 seconds.

Felipe Massa was fifth fastest, almost half a second adrift of his Williams team-mate, while Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull rounded out the top six.

Sergio Perez impressively split Ricciardo from Red Bull team-mate Daniil Kvyat by going seventh quickest.

Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso lapped 0.124 seconds slower than Kvyat to end up ninth.

A late improvement from Kvyat in the final moments of Q2 pushed the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr to P11.

Sainz was unable to improve on his last run but remained half a tenth clear of Jenson Button in the better of the McLaren-Hondas.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was P13, reckoning a lap that was nearly half a second adrift of Perez in Q2 to be “as good as it gets”.

As for Fernando Alonso, the double world champion was 0.036 seconds slower in P14, and yet ahead of the Haas pairing of Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez, who were separated by less than a tenth as Grosjean continued to complain about the unpredictability of his car.

The Renaults of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer were more than two tenths away from making the Q2 cut, but separated by less than a tenth in P17 and P18.

Sauber’s Felipe Nasr lay above the cut-off after his first run in Q1, but he went off at the start of his second run and failed to improve his time.

Nasr wound up just 0.009 seconds shy of Palmer’s time but well clear of Pascal Wehrlein in the best of the Manor-Mercedes.

Marcus Ericsson seemed set to avoid a back-of-the-grid start after a last-gasp improvement, but Rio Haryanto hit back with a late show of his own to return the struggling Ericsson to the bottom of the grid.

Rosberg Mercedes Russia 2016

Qualifying results, Sochi:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m35.417s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m36.536s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m36.663s
4    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.016s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-TAG Heuer    1m37.125s
6    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m37.212s
7    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m36.123s*
8    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-TAG Heuer    1m37.459s
9    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m37.583s
10    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes   No time
11    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m37.652s
12    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m37.701s
13    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m37.771s
14    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m37.807s
15    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m38.055s
16    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m38.115s
17    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m38.914s
18    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m39.009s
19    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m39.018s
20    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m39.399s
21    Rio Haryanto    Manor/Mercedes    1m39.463s
22    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m39.519s

*Five-place grid penalty for gearbox change

Rosberg scores hat trick of victories in China

Rosberg China 2016 winner

Nico Rosberg continued his winning form this season with his third victory for Mercedes at the Chinese Grand Prix.

This was Rosberg’s sixth consecutive victory, beating his team-mate Lewis Hamilton since last year’s Mexican Grand Prix.

This latest achievement means he opens up a 36-point lead over Hamilton.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished in second position, despite a clash with his Ferrari’s team-mate caused by Daniil Kvyat, who was able to complete the podium for Red Bull Racing.

As for Hamilton, starting from the back of the grid after a MGU-H failure during qualifying and subsequent power unit change post session, the reigning champion could do no better than seventh position.

But that’s only half the story of what was a chaotic race at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Chinese GP 2016 race

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo took the lead into Turn 1 after beating polesitter Rosberg off the line from his own front-row position.

Behind the lead duo, Kimi Raikkonen locked up marginally at the first corner, forcing Ferrari team-mate Vettel to make a slightly evasive move.

But with Kvyat charging up the inside, Vettel manoeuvred his way back into his team-mate, sending The Iceman off the track and into the pits for repairs.

Vettel was angry over the team’s radio, blaming Kvyat as “a madman” who had made a “suicidal” move and arguing with him after the race.

Hamilton had made up five position into Turn 1, but after running over a piece of Raikkonen’s front wing, the champion was then hit by Felipe Nasr and ended up with his own front wing lodged under his Mercedes.

That caused damage to his Silver Arrows, resulting in a loss of downforce and hampering Hamilton’s recovery.

Leader Ricciardo’s hopes were dashed on lap three when, powering down the back straight and with Rosberg behind, he sustained a puncture to his left-rear tyre caused by debris on the track.

Shredded rubber on that part of the circuit prompted a safety car, and brought Raikkonen and Hamilton back into contention at the rear of the pack.

During the five laps the safety car was on track, Hamilton made two stops for tyres, taking on super-softs for one lap, and then back to another set of softs, the compound on which he had started, giving him free choice of Pirelli tyres for the rest of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Once the safety car was released, behind leader Rosberg a number of key players were out of position, with Vettel P15, Ricciardo P17, Raikkonen P19 and Hamilton P21.

What followed was an easy Sunday drive for Rosberg, while those behind attempted to work out the best strategy and tyres for any given part of the race, with positions changing constantly.

Kvyat ran second to Rosberg for most of the race, with Vettel using a brief hard-charging stint on super-softs to make progress through the traffic and catch him again.

They swapped positions immediately after the final pit stops, where Ferrari put Vettel on softs and he was able to quickly attack on the medium-shod Red Bull.

At one stage prior to his fourth pit stop after 21 laps Hamilton was running third as others pitted, but two further stops followed – for a total of five – dropping him down the order on both occasions.

Hamilton came back through to push Felipe Massa’s Williams for fourth, but was eventually passed by a flying Ricciardo and Raikkonen.

Ricciardo ultimately claimed fourth for the third successive race, with Raikkonen fifth, followed by Massa, Hamilton, the Toro Rosso pair of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr, with Valtteri Bottas completing the top ten.

Despite the numerous incidents, all 22 cars completed the race, with Jolyon Palmer for Renault the last of those to see the chequered flag.

So a dramatic Chinese Grand Prix. Mayhem on the opening lap with three champions receiving damage. The top drivers fighting back through the field and yet the championship leader extends the points lead with a great win.

Mercedes China 2016 win

Chinese Grand Prix, race results after 56 laps:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team    1h38m53.891s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Scuderia Ferrari    37.776s
3    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull Racing    45.936s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull Racing    52.688s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Scuderia Ferrari    1m05.872s
6    Felipe Massa    Williams Martini Racing    1m15.511s
7    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team    1m18.230s
8    Max Verstappen    Scuderia Toro Rosso    1m19.268s
9    Carlos Sainz    Scuderia Toro Rosso    1m24.127s
10    Valtteri Bottas    Williams Martini Racing    1m26.192s
11    Sergio Perez    Sahara Force India F1 Team    1m34.283s
12    Fernando Alonso    McLaren Honda    1m37.253s
13    Jenson Button    McLaren Honda    1m41.990s
14    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas F1 Team    1 Lap
15    Nico Hulkenberg    Sahara Force India F1 Team    1 Lap
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber F1 Team    1 Lap
17    Kevin Magnussen    Renault Sport F1 Team    1 Lap
18    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor Racing MRT    1 Lap
19    Romain Grosjean    Haas F1 Team    1 Lap
20    Felipe Nasr    Sauber F1 Team    1 Lap
21    Rio Haryanto    Manor Racing MRT    1 Lap
22    Jolyon Palmer    Renault Sport F1 Team    1 Lap

Drivers’ standings:

1    Nico Rosberg    75
2    Lewis Hamilton    39
3    Daniel Ricciardo    36
4    Sebastian Vettel    33
5    Kimi Raikkonen    28
6    Felipe Massa    22
7    Daniil Kvyat    21
8    Romain Grosjean    18
9    Max Verstappen    13
10    Valtteri Bottas    7
11    Nico Hulkenberg    6
12    Carlos Sainz    4
13    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
14    Kevin Magnussen    0
15    Sergio Perez    0
16    Jolyon Palmer    0
17    Marcus Ericsson    0
18    Fernando Alonso    0
19    Jenson Button    0
20    Pascal Wehrlein    0
21    Felipe Nasr    0
22    Esteban Gutierrez    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    114
2    Ferrari    61
3    Red Bull-TAG Heuer    57
4    Williams-Mercedes    29
5    Haas-Ferrari    18
6    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    17
7    Force India-Mercedes    6
8    McLaren-Honda    1
9    Renault    0
10    Sauber-Ferrari    0
11    Manor-Mercedes    0

Next race: Russian Grand Prix, Sochi. April 29-May 1.

Mercedes front and back in China qualifying

Rosberg China 2016 qualifying

Championship leader Nico Rosberg recorded his twenty-third career pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix while his title rival Lewis Hamilton suffered a technical issue and will start last.

A five-place grid penalty for the reigning world champion Hamilton meant he was never going to start on pole, but his Mercedes failed to even figure in the battle thanks to an energy recovery system (ERS) problem that meant he was unable to escape Q1.

Friday practice pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen was on provisional pole after the first runs in Q3, but he made a mistake at the penultimate corner and couldn’t improve.

Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel only made a single run in Q3, but the end result was just fourth position.

China 2016 qualifying

Ricciardo therefore grabbed this opportunity with a superb final effort in his Red Bull, 0.055 seconds faster than Raikkonen’s Ferrari but over half a second down on Rosberg, who got through Q2 on soft tyres and can consequently start the race on a different strategy to the other front running cars.

So second position for Daniel Ricciardo is an impressive achievement. The potential for Red Bull and the honey badger looks good.

The Williams of Valtteri Bottas was fifth quickest, slightly slower than Vettel, while Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top six.

Sergio Perez was seventh fastest for Force India, ahead of the Toro Rosso pair of Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen.

Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten, but Force India will likely be penalised for an unsafe release after his car shed its left-front wheel in the closing minutes of Q2.

That prevented any drivers from completing second runs in this segment, and meant Felipe Massa’s Williams missed out on the top ten by just 0.014 seconds to Hulkenberg.

The McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, Romain Grosjean’s Haas, and the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr completed the top 16 in that order.

Alonso groaned repeatedly with frustration when told over McLaren’s radio that he would have to abort his second run, while team-mate Button’s response was “Are you kidding me?! One day we’ll show our true pace”.

Kevin Magnussen’s Renault and the Haas-Ferrari of Esteban Gutierrez both fell at the first part of qualifying, thanks to late improvements from the Saubers.

Magnussen, who lost most of Friday’s dry running to a rear suspension problem, almost did enough with his final flying lap, but Nasr bumped him out by less than a hundredth of a second.

Gutierrez ended up P18, paying the price for Haas completing its second Q1 runs too early as the track improved.

Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was nearly eight tenths slower in P19, but well ahead of Rio Haryanto’s Manor-Mercedes.

Hamilton’s ERS problems meant he failed to set a time in qualifying, but he will start last on account of a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Bahrain qualifying star Pascal Wehrlein also failed to set a time, after the DTM champion lost control of his slick-shod car over a wet patch on the start/finish straight and glanced the barriers in the early stages of Q1.

That accident caused a lengthy delay to the session as marshals attempted to dry out this part of the circuit with a track sweeper.

So a Silver Arrows bookend. Championship challenger on pole position while defending title winner at the back. The honey badger can fight for glory. Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix is going to be exciting.

Rosberg China 2016

Qualifying standings, Chinese Grand Prix:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m35.402s
2    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-TAG Heuer    1m35.917s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m35.972s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m36.246s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m36.296s
6    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-TAG Heuer    1m36.399s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m36.865s
8    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m36.881s
9    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m37.194s
10    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    No time
11    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.347s
12    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m38.826s
13    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m39.093s
14    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m39.830s
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m40.742s
16    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.430s
17    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m38.673s
18    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m38.770s
19    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m39.528s
20    Rio Haryanto    Manor-Mercedes    1m40.264s
21    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    No time
22    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    No time

Rosberg extends lead in championship with Bahrain victory

Bahrain GP 2016 winner

Nico Rosberg extending his lead in the Formula 1 world championship with victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

This was Rosberg’s fifth consecutive victory and two on the trot this season. His Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton recovered from a first-lap clash against Valtteri Bottas to finish third.

Rosberg made the most of polesitter Hamilton’s slow getaway to lead into the first corner and then was relatively comfortable at the front, finishing 10.2 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen under the lights at Sakhir.

Hamilton bogged down at the start but was second into Turn 1 before the Mercedes driver was hit from the side by Valtteri Bottas, dropping him to ninth.

The reigning world champion suffered front wing damage in the moment but was able to continue, carving his way back through the field to rescue third and remain within 17 points of title rival Rosberg.

Raikkonen also recovered from a poor getaway but didn’t quite have enough speed to seriously challenge Rosberg for the lead in the closing stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, his team-mate Sebastian Vettel did not even make the start after suffering an engine failure on the formation lap.

It was very unfortunate to see Vettel had to pull out before the Bahrain Grand Prix got started. If the Ferrari was reliable, if would be fascinating to see the four-time champion fighting against the Silver Arrows.

At least Romain Grosjean provide some racing action, as he continued Haas’s brilliant start to the season with a superb fifth, having done three stints on the super-soft tyres, one position behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen bolted on a set of super-soft tyres late and surged past Felipe Massa to take sixth, with Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat also passing the Williams on the penultimate lap to take seventh.

Massa ran second early on after an impressive start, but dropped down the field as Williams opted for a two-stop strategy with two stints on the medium and he ended up eighth position.

Bottas, who had a drive-through penalty for causing a collision with Hamilton at the start, was ninth while McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, standing in for the injured Fernando Alonso, scored a point on his F1 debut with tenth.

This was a superb effort from the GP2 champion. Out qualifies his world champion team-mate Jenson Button and scores a point for himself and the McLaren-Honda team. We shall see if Vandoorne has another chance to drive in Formula 1 after this debut.

Kevin Magnussen was P11, ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, who had a feisty battle with team-mate Felipe Nasr, with the two making contact in the early stages.

The Sauber driver came out on top and ended up P12, with Nasr finishing down in P14 and complaining on team radio that the car “is terrible to drive”.

Pascal Wehrlein finished an impressive P13 for Manor with the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg P15 and P16 respectively.

Carlos Sainz Jr looked well-placed when the highest runner on the softs early on, but he picked up a puncture when he was clipped by Perez and later retired.

While Grosjean scored points for the second successive race, there was heartache for Haas team-mate Esteban Gutierrez who was running in the points one position behind Grosjean before pulling into the pits and retiring the car.

Jenson Button retired with an ERS problem while Renault’s Jolyon Palmer pulled into the pits at the end of the formation lap with a hydraulics issue.

So another victory for Nico Rosberg and Mercedes. The driver and car are in harmony. Lets see if this winning form continues.

Mercedes Bahrain GP 2016 race

Bahrain Grand Prix, after 57 laps:
1 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1h33m34.696s
2 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    10.282s
3 Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    30.148s
4 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-TAG Heuer    1m02.494s
5 Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m18.299s
6 Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m20.929s
7 Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-TAG Heuer    1 Lap
8 Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
9 Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
10 Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
11 Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1 Lap
12 Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
13 Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1 Lap
14 Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
16 Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
17 Rio Haryanto    Manor-Mercedes    1 Lap
– Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    Retirement
– Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    Retirement
– Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    Retirement
– Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    Not started
– Jolyon Palmer    Renault    Not started

Drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    50
2    Lewis Hamilton    33
3    Daniel Ricciardo    24
4    Kimi Raikkonen    18
5    Romain Grosjean    18
6    Sebastian Vettel    15
7    Felipe Massa    14
8    Max Verstappen    9
9    Nico Hulkenberg    6
10    Daniil Kvyat    6
11    Valtteri Bottas    6
12    Carlos Sainz    2
13    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
14    Kevin Magnussen    0
15    Jolyon Palmer    0
16    Marcus Ericsson    0
17    Sergio Perez    0
17    Pascal Wehrlein    0
19    Felipe Nasr    0
20    Jenson Button    0
21    Rio Haryanto    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    83
2    Ferrari    33
3    Red Bull-TAG Heuer    30
4    Williams-Mercedes    20
5    Haas-Ferrari    18
6    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    11
7    Force India-Mercedes    6
8    McLaren-Honda    1
9    Renault    0
10    Sauber-Ferrari    0
11    Manor-Mercedes    0

Next race: Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai. April 15-17.

Hamilton strikes back to grab Bahrain Grand Prix pole

Bahrain GP 2016 pole

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton edged out his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to secure pole position, breaking the lap record at the Bahrain International Circuit in the process.

Ferrari was a keen competitor to the Silver Arrows in qualifying, unlike at the previous race in Melbourne when the team had to order their drivers not to take part as a way of conserving tyres.

Hamilton was only fourth fastest after running wide at the final corner on his first attempt in Q3, but he produced the fastest lap of the weekend so far – a time of one minute, 29.493 seconds – when it counted to take the 51st pole of his Formula 1 career.

Rosberg led the way following the first runs in Q3, just under two tenths clear of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. Rosberg improved by more than three tenths of a second on his second attempt, but Hamilton remained 0.077 seconds clear.

Bahrain GP 2016 qualifying

Vettel took third position, improving only slightly on his first Q3 effort, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen dropped time in the first sector on his final lap so ended up fourth.

The rest of the Q3 runners only had sufficient time to complete single runs, thanks to the controversial elimination format being retained for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull was best-of-the-rest, nearly three tenths clear of the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

Felipe Massa was just 0.002 seconds down in seventh, while Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India completed the top eight.

Romain Grosjean’s Haas and the Toro Rossos of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr all paid the price for staying in the pits after making single runs in Q2.

Hulkenberg was the only driver to attempt two runs in this segment and his second flying lap was enough to lift him to eighth position and knock Grosjean out of the final Q3 spot.

The lack of effort to return to the track despite having time to do so suggested Haas and Toro Rosso strategically preferred free choice of tyres for the race start, rather than higher grid positions.

Less than three tenths of a second covered Grosjean in ninth to Jenson Button in P14.

Verstappen and Sainz ended up P10 and P11, ahead of McLaren-Honda rookie Stoffel Vandoorne – who outqualified team-mate Button on his Formula 1 debut – and the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez and Button.

Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat endured another disappointing qualifying session, ending up P15 in a car comfortably quick enough for Q3.

Sergio Perez and the works Renaults of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer dropped out in Q1, along with both Manors and Saubers.

Perez only had time for one run, which proved insufficient to make the cut as others improved.

Pascal Wehrlein was the star of qualifying and was able to place his Manor-Mercedes in P16 with a last-gasp effort. Great achievement considering the DTM champion was less than three tenths shy of being good enough for Q2.

Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber was 0.034 seconds slower in P17, ahead of Perez, Magnussen (who will start from the pitlane after missing the weighbridge in practice) and Palmer.

Rio Haryanto’s Manor and Felipe Nasr’s Sauber propped up the timesheet.

Both were well adrift of the rest after completing solitary runs and had no time for a second effort.

Nasr’s lap was spoiled by a big lock-up under braking at Turn 1, so he ended up slowest.

The elimination qualifying was out in force for the second time despite unfavourable opinions from the drivers, team bosses and fans. The mixed up grid did not shuffle the pecking order and yet again Mercedes secured the front row.

Hopefully the sport’s rule makers can see this and reinstate the previous qualifying format. Seeing no cars on track as the minutes tick by brings no excitement, thrill or drama. For the television viewers and fans watching track side.

As for Lewis Hamilton, this 51st pole position is a grand achievement not only for the advancement in Formula 1 technology but the ability to fightback. Bring on the Bahrain Grand Prix and the duel in the desert.

Mercedes Bahrain GP 2016

Bahrain Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m29.493s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m29.570s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m30.012s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m30.244s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-TAG Heuer    1m30.854s
6    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m31.153s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m31.155s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m31.620s
9    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m31.756s
10    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m31.772s
11    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m31.816s
12    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m31.934s
13    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m31.945s
14    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m31.998s
15    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-TAG Heuer    1m32.241s
16    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m32.806s
17    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m32.840s
18    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m32.911s
19    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m33.438s
20    Rio Haryanto    Manor-Mercedes    1m34.190s
21    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m34.388s
22    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m33.181s