Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff says that the second run of the elimination Formula 1 qualifying format did nothing to change his poor opinion of it.
The addition of quickfire eliminations to qualifying in Australia resulted in a backlash from the majority of the paddock, with Wolff calling the format “pretty rubbish”.
However, as teams could not agree on a format to replace it, the eliminations were given a second chance in Bahrain on Saturday.
There was little improvement, though, as yet again the track was left empty for large parts of the session, with pole being settled with three minutes to run in Q3.
“My feelings about this qualifying format haven’t changed and there is nothing to add to what I’ve already said about it,” Wolff said after the session ahead of a meeting on Sunday to discuss a change for China.
It proved to be a successful qualifying for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton led Nico Rosberg to a front-row lock-out, putting the Silver Arrows in a strong position for Sunday’s race.
“The actual battle today between our two cars, and also between ourselves and Ferrari, was very close and really exciting,” Wolff said.
“It was only in the final part of Q2 and Q3 that Lewis and Nico hooked everything up, and for Lewis it came down to his final Q3 lap after he ran wide on his first run.
“What he produced was a stunning lap, the fastest ever on this circuit – quicker even than the V10 era – and more than three seconds faster than last year’s pole. Really impressive.
“Nico came very close to beating it and fell less then a tenth short in the end after his fastest lap of the session.
“Now we focus on tomorrow’s race, on getting off the line well – and what I am sure will be a very tight battle with Ferrari.”
The Bahrain Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 10:30am ET on Sunday.