Lewis Hamilton aiming to turn tables on Nico Rosberg in Bahrain after losing pole
Hamilton though enjoying "incredible feeling" of Merc dominance
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 05/04/14 7:32pm
The British driver, in keeping with his status as both the bookmakers' favourite for the Sakhir race and the 2014 title itself, had outpaced team-mate Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes-dominated practice sessions and then again in Q1.
However, Rosberg started to rally from the second qualifying stage onwards and after outpacing Hamilton by a tenth of a second in Q2, then struck first on the decisive Q3 runs by 0.279s as the sister car made a small mistake at Turn Eight.
Hamilton ultimately blew his chances of completing a hat-trick of poles at the start of the season with a bigger lock-up at the first corner on his final lap, which sent him straight on into the run-off area. As a result, Rosberg had the luxury of being able to abandon his own final effort, although Mercedes' big pace advantage over the chasing pack was such that Hamilton stayed alongside him on the front-row.
Afterwards the Briton congratulated Rosberg on his pole lap but expressed hope that he could turn the tables on race day.
"My first lap was okay, it wasn't too bad, and then the second I just locked up into Turn One and didn't have another chance," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
"Nico did a great job and happy for the team that we get the front-row and I'll try to do better tomorrow."
Mercedes' W05 has proved in a league of its own around Sakhir since Practice One commenced on Friday and, barring unreliability or incidents, the 57-lap race looks certain to distill into a straight head-to-head duel between Rosberg and Hamilton.
And, little more than a year on from his arrival at the then underachieving team from McLaren, Hamilton admits he is enjoying the period of dominance.
"It is an incredible feeling. I don't really know what to say," he admitted. "As I keep saying every weekend, I came to this team and for it to have grown so much and for us to be so competitive is an incredible feeling."
With a sustained challenge from a non-W05 unlikely, the outcome of the anticipated Rosberg/Hamilton battle in Bahrain could be determined by which of the pair manages the race's two key variables - tyre wear and fuel consumption - the best.
While Hamilton is aware the tyres will indeed be a concern - "tyre degradation is going to be a big issue here, it always is" - he isn't unduly worried about fuel issues despite Sakhir being one of the worst tracks for consumption levels.
"It's no worse than it's ever been in the past I don't think. There's a lot of emphasis but on it, but we should be fine tomorrow," he declared.
Sky Sports F1's exclusively live coverage of the Bahrain GP begins at 2.30pm UK Time, with the race underway at 4pm