Mercedes' German driver Nico Rosberg laughs during a press conference at the Bahrain international circuit in Manama ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix. AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff
Germany’s Nico Rosberg looked forward to ‘kick-starting’ his season after seizing Mercedes’s second successive pole position in qualifying for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday.
Compatriot and triple world champion Sebastian Vettel joined him on the front row for Red Bull at a circuit where no driver has won from lower than fourth place on the grid in eight previous races.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, three times a winner in Bahrain, will share the second row in Sunday's race with Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa after penalties for Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Mark Webber. "Am I surprised? A little bit. It wasn't really clear who was the quickest car over one lap," said Rosberg of his second career pole. "I really want to kickstart my season. It has really been a rough ride in the first three races and so today's been the first normal qualifying up to now."
Rosberg's only previous pole was in China last year. Mercedes have not had back-to-back poles since they returned as a works team in 2010.
The German driver has retired from two of the season's three races and finished fourth in Malaysia when he was ordered by the team not to pass Hamilton for third place for fear that the cars would run out of fuel.
Hamilton penalised for gearbox change
Britain's 2008 Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will be demoted five places on the grid for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix after his team changed his gearbox on Saturday.
Hamilton - in his first season with Mercedes after moving from McLaren - came to a complete stop after the final practice session prompting his mechanics to change the gearbox.