Formula 1: Nico Rosberg takes Bahrain pole

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Germany’s Nico Rosberg is looking forward to “kick-starting” his season after seizing Mercedes’ second successive pole position in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday.

Compatriot and triple world champion Sebastian Vettel joined him on the front row for Red Bull.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s Paul Di Resta qualified a strong seventh for Force India but will start from fifth position, while Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso will share the second row in today’s race with Brazilian team-mate Felipe Massa after grid penalties for Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber.

Hamilton was on pole in China last weekend but collected a five-place penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change after yesterday’s final practice, dropping him from fourth. Webber was fifth fastest for his 200th race but falls three places as a punishment for causing a collision in Shanghai, with Massa moving up from sixth.

“Am I surprised? A little bit. It wasn’t really clear who was the quickest car over one lap,” said Rosberg, pictured above. “I really want to kick-start my season. It has been a rough ride in the first three races. Today was my first real qualifying.”

Rosberg’s only previous pole was in China last year. Mercedes have not had back-to-back poles since they returned as a works team in 2010.

The German driver has retired from two of the season’s three races and finished fourth in Malaysia when he was ordered by the team not to pass Hamilton for third place for fear that the cars would run out of fuel.

The son of 1982 champion Keke now has a chance to take the second win of his career, at the circuit where he made his debut in 2006, but he warned that rear tyre degradation would be a concern in the race.

“It’s difficult to say if we have enough pace to win the race tomorrow but for sure we’ll try hard to win,” said Rosberg.

The driver on pole in Bahrain has won four of the past eight races there.

Vettel leads the championship with 52 points, with Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified in ninth place but moves up to eighth, second on 49 for Lotus. Alonso has 43.

“Congratulations to Nico, it was all his today,” said Vettel. “It was clear even with a perfect lap [he] was unbeatable.”