Lewis Hamilton secured his second pole position of the 2016 season in Bahrain on Saturday, beating Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to the top spot in qualifying with a record-setting time of 1:29.493.
Rosberg dominated both practice sessions on Friday and looked the fastest during the first two qualifying sessions, but Hamilton turned it up in the final minutes. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will start Sunday's race from the second row.
Read on for the full results, the final grid and a recap of Saturday's sessions.
Here's a look at the full results from qualifying, courtesy of Formula One's official Twitter account:
For the first time in 2016, Ferrari managed to keep things relatively close with Mercedes, as Raikkonen and Vettel were on the verge of pushing Hamilton off the front row for most of the three sessions. But ultimately, the reigning champion showed his class in the final session.
With just a few minutes left in the session, Hamilton took off for one last flying lap, and per Formula One's official Twitter account, he smashed the local track record on his way to pole position:
Rosberg sat at the top of the time sheets for most of qualifying, and after his win in Australia to start the season, he must have been eager to beat his team-mate to the top spot once again.
But there was nothing anyone could do against Hamilton's final run, which was nothing short of spectacular. If the Brit shows the same form during Sunday's race, it will be impossible to deny him his first win of the season.
Mercedes was the only team to duck under the 1:30:00 mark, and once again, it looks like Sunday's race will be between Hamilton and Rosberg, with the rest of the pack fighting for a podium spot.
Stoffel Vandoorne made a fantastic impression in sessions one and two and even managed to beat team-mate Jenson Button to the 12th spot on the grid, per WTF1:
Per BBC Sport's Gary Rose, the young Belgian was more than happy with his performance:
It feels good. This morning i had similar pace to Jenson and I knew if improved a little bit I would beat him, It's a good feeling. FP3 was a little bit compromised but we more or less maximised everytihing this afternoon. If we gained one or two tenths we might have been in Q3.
It was a disappointing outing for Button, who surprised fans and pundits alike by clocking the third-fastest time during Friday's second practice session and seemed primed for a solid performance on Saturday.
The McLarens have looked remarkably fast in Bahrain, and Button is expected to do well during Sunday's race, but after the promise of Friday, a top-10 spot on the grid should have been the goal.
Romain Grosjean was the last man to be eliminated in the second session in what was yet another strong performance for Haas, but as shared by Autosport Live, the end of the session was rather anticlimactic:
Just like in Australia, the drivers didn't have enough time to alter their strategies in between runs, and the second and final sessions saw too many lulls in which almost no cars were on the track. The new qualifying format remains an issue, and after two unsuccessful attempts to make it work, it's something that should be fixed as soon as possible.
Here is a look at the provisional classification from FP3, in which the Ferrari duo excelled:
With the Bahrain sun beating down on this circuit, the drivers had a chance to have one final dart around the track ahead of the serious stuff. It was a session that seemed to suggest we’re going to be in store for an intriguing race on Sunday too.
After dominating the first two sessions on Friday through Rosberg, there was a worry that the Silver Arrows would be too strong at this venue again. But Ferrari battled back gamely in the early stages of FP3, showcasing their skills in the hot conditions.
Raikkonen posted a very handy time early on in his stint on the softs, and the Sky Sports F1 Twitter feed observed that the Scuderia may be coping with the punishing heat a little better:
It was a brilliant lap from the Finn and one that the Mercedes pairing were unable to get near. Rosberg and Hamilton each put on the soft tyres in an attempt to match the pace of Raikkonen, but they were a fair way back on the Finn, who was looking comfortable at the top of the pile.
However, as the F1 Twitter feed noted, there was nothing to separate the two Mercedes men as they posted their flying laps:
Hamilton and Rosberg were the first to put on the super soft tyres late in FP3, and that saw them both temporarily jump ahead of the Ferraris. Again, it was the German who had the edge on the world champion, albeit by a meagre five hundredths of a second.
But when the Ferrari drivers opted for the same compound, once again they were comfortably quicker.
First it was Raikkonen who leapfrogged the Mercedes duo, and then, after spending much of the session down in the middle of the pack, Vettel produced a stormer of a lap to take spot spot from the Finn.
While it’s a result that has got plenty excited about what could be the end of Mercedes’ qualifying monopoly, Ben Ward of Channel 4 offered an explanation for why Ferrari might have been so dominant:
Either way, it’s a practice session that will make qualifying brilliant to watch, and if there are similar conditions come race day, the Scuderia do seem to be more reliable performers on the hot surface. Mercedes, however, have always found a way to bounce back over the last couple of seasons, and it’d be no surprise to see them do so again.