World champion Lewis Hamilton secured the 51st pole position of his career and his second of the season for Mercedes with the fastest lap ever at the Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday. (Nico Rosberg, Mercedes Rule Opening Bahrain Practice)
The 31-year-old Briton, under pressure after failing to top the times in three practice sessions, found the pace he needed in another desultory exhibition of the new qualifying format ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.
"It's obviously not been a smooth weekend in terms of pace for me -- and Nico (Rosberg) has been right on it -- but I was able to put a lap together, my best of the weekend, and it mattered for me at just the right time," said the three-time champion.
Hamilton's lap in one minute and 29.493 seconds was the fastest lap recorded at the Sakhir track and it rescued him after an error had marred his first fast lap in Q3.
Rosberg, who won the season-opener in Australia and looked set for pole position himself, wound up second fastest behind Hamilton in the second Mercedes.
He will start ahead of the third-placed Ferrari of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in the second Ferrari ahead of Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, Valtteri Bottas and his Williams team-mate Felipe Massa.
Nico Hulkenberg was eighth for Force India ahead of Romain Grosjean of the new American Haas team with Dutch teenager Max Verstappen 10th for Toro Rosso.