Nico Rosberg admitted that he was stunned to learn that Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton had stolen the fastest time in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix after improving on his own best time on his final run.

The German, who has had the upper hand on Hamilton all weekend, took nearly half a second off his first flying lap time in Q3, to settle at 1m 29.570s, but was then told that the Briton, who had run wide on his first flier, had found even more of a gain, clocking the fastest lap ever at Bahrain International Circuit to claim pole in 1m 29.493s.

"My lap felt good and I was actually sure I was on pole, but that wasn't the case," Rosberg sighed, "Lewis just did a great lap in the end there.... All the way through the weekend, it's been going well, and even in qualifying it was going well. I put a good lap in but Lewis was just 7/100ths better and that's it."

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Despite having seen both Mercedes jumped by their Ferrari rivals at the start in Australia a fortnight ago, Rosberg still found some solace despite missing out on pole and expects plenty of chances to craft another win on Sunday.

"I think this track is one where pole counts least because a lot of things can happen in the race," he insisted, "Tomorrow could be quite messy and there's still a lot of opportunities....

"I think were going to see many different strategies and some people will be surprised that their strategy doesn't work the way they thought because we'll see graining on the soft tyres because it's so cold and that causes a lot of unexpected things. When you get graining, you lose a lot of time and you can get it in different ways so... And then, three different tyres, safety cars maybe coming into it, it's going to be all over the place...."