Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, from left to right, pose after the qualifying session for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, a. I'm really happy that there are more than two of us in the mix. It was a total shutdown. If the vehicle was faster, we wouldn't have to take the risk.
"Nowadays, these cars are not just cars - it's all technology and software so it seems to me like something went wrong there".
Red Bull's Australian Daniel Ricciardo qualified fourth.
Bottas" lap was comfortably faster than Rosberg's pole time past year of 1:29.493, but the overall speed of the new era "fatter-and-faster' machines was less notable in the desert heat than it had been at the two previous races.
"We've made a really good job this weekend to focus on the evening conditions and to get a lot of lap time out of this auto in slightly cooler conditions".
Vettel, who did comfortably outqualify team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, said he wasn't sure why Ferrari's deficit to Mercedes had grown compared to the first two races in Australia and China. Both have one race win apiece and are knotted at 43 points.
When asked if Bottas' pole position proved 2017 is a three-way fight for the title, instead of just a Hamilton-Sebastian Vettel rivalry, the three-time world champion replied: "It always was".
Lauding his Mercedes team mate, Hamilton said: "Big congratulations to Valtteri".
Howver, the Renault driver escaped punishment.
Qualifying gets under way at 4pm United Kingdom time. "I can't disappear, and I won't", he explained.
Hamilton, sitting next to his team-mate was beaming with pride. The front of his auto touched the barrier, knocking off the wing. After early installation laps, Frenchman Esteban Ocon of Force India was briefly quickest before Spaniard Carlos Sainz planted his Red Bull on top of the times.
But flying Finn Bottas bettered it and clocked 1min 28.769secs to clinch his first pole.
The narrowness of the margin will make tyre management and pit strategy a crucial part of tomorrow's race, with Mercedes determined not to repeat the mistakes of races past.
"My lap felt great but it was so close out there".
"As a driver you never want to lose and you never want to lose against your team-mate, but equally I see there is a lot of respect for each other", he added.
Although not as hot as Friday, drivers still had to deal with afternoon track temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius (99 degrees Fahrenheit) during P3.
"It was very close today, with Ferrari fastest", he said. "I'm genuinely happy with the job I did".
"Mercedes technical director James Allison said the outcome of the race, and the weekend's work, could be decided by a slight error".
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