BMW Sauber's tough start to 2009 continued in Bahrain, as both Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld failed to make it through to the top ten shoot-out in qualifying.
Both drivers attempted faster laps at the end of the second phase, only to come up short, leaving them 13th and 14th respectively and cast to the sidelines along with Nelson Piquet Jr, Kazuki Nakajima and Heikki Kovalainen.
Piquet's final effort at making the top ten was spoiled by an off midway through his lap, while Kovalainen appeared to have a decent shot at making the cut when he ventured out on a clear track with four minutes to go, but made only a small improvement that proved to be insufficient when McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Felipe Massa made bigger gains.
Sebastian Vettel again led the way, the Chinese GP winner staking a claim to a second straight pole for Red Bull, but had the two Toyotas right behind him as Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli slotted into second and third late on.
Kimi Raikkonen and Rubens Barrichello rounded out the top five for Ferrari and Brawn respectively, while Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Hamilton, Massa and Nico Rosberg will all feature in the battle for pole.