Formula One

Rosberg tops Hamilton for Bahrain GP pole

Sakhir, Bahrain ( - Mercedes locked out the front starting row for the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Nico Rosberg winning the pole position after beating his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, by 0.279 seconds in Saturday's qualifying.

With qualifying held at nighttime, Rosberg made a lap around the 3.195-mile, 15-turn Bahrain International Circuit in 1 minute, 33.185 seconds for his fifth career pole in Formula One. He also won the pole for last year's Bahrain GP.

Rosberg placed second to Hamilton in both practice sessions on Friday as well as the final practice, which took place shortly before qualifying. This is the first year the Bahrain GP will run at night. Practices took place during twilight.

"It's just worked well through the weekend, finding my way and getting around some issues," Rosberg said. "The challenge this weekend is that the free practice sessions were in such hot conditions, mainly the one before qualifying. It's just very difficult, and you have to sort of guess what the setup is and what is the car going to be like in the colder conditions during the evening. It worked out well. I was feeling comfortable, and I got my laps together, so I'm very happy."

Rosberg is the current leader in the F1 world championship point standings. He began the season by winning the March 16 Australian Grand Prix and then finishing second to Hamilton in last Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton turned a lap in 1:33.464 on his first attempt in Q3. He tried to make another lap in the closing seconds but had to abort it after he locked up in turn 1.

"Congratulations to Nico. He's done a great job this weekend," Hamilton said. "I made a mistake on my last lap. I locked up and went straight on. But generally I'm happy. I'm really proud of the team for us to continue to keep moving forward and progressing as we are."

Neither Rosberg nor Hamilton has yet to win the Bahrain GP.

Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull was impressive again in qualifying with a third-place finish, but Ricciardo will start 13th due to a 10-place grid penalty he received for an unsafe release during a pit stop in the Malaysian GP.

"I was really pleased with qualifying tonight," Ricciardo said. "Tomorrow, of course, I don't stay at the front here. There's a bit of work to do."

Ricciardo's teammate, Sebastian Vettel, the four-time defending world champion and winner of the Bahrain GP the past two years, struggled in qualifying, as he failed to advance into Q3. Vettel had issues with his downshifts, particularly in Q2. He finished 11th, but Ricciardo's penalty moved him up to 10th on the starting grid.

"I wasn't quick enough this evening," Vettel said. "It's hard to say if there was a problem with the car, but at the end, we weren't quick enough."

Valtteri Bottas from Williams will start third, while Force India's Sergio Perez will roll off fourth from the grid. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen begins Sunday's 57-lap race from the fifth spot.

04/05 13:29:26 ET