Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton maintained his 100 per cent pole record for the season by outpacing Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel during Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Kimi Räikkönen.

Hamilton produced a blistering time of 1:32.571 on his final run in the top 10 shootout, almost half a second faster than Vettel’s effort.

Rosberg had a below-par session on his way to third position, while Räikkönen completed the top four in the remaining Ferrari.

Valtteri Bottas placed his Williams fifth, a few tenths up on team-mate Felipe Massa and the lead Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.

Force India driver Nico Hülkenberg and Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr. completed just one timed lap each in eighth and ninth, with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean completing the top 10.

Sergio Pérez narrowly missed out on joining team-mate Hülkenberg in Q3, edging out Sauber duo Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, who were this time unable to progress.

Fernando Alonso put McLaren-Honda in Q2 for the first time this season, and also managed to out-qualify Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, as the Dutch teenager lacked power.

It was not so positive for team-mate Jenson Button, however, as his car stopped on track for the third time this weekend and left him on the back of the grid for tomorrow’s race.

Pastor Maldonado and Daniil Kvyat were the other established names to drop out in Q1, with Maldonado encountering engine troubles and Kvyat struggling to get over his FP3 spin.

Manor Marussia pair Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were the last of the timed runners, both drivers getting within 107 per cent of the ultimate pace and making the race on merit.