Sakhir (AP) - Lewis Hamilton's representative George Russell was only 26 thousandths of a second missing from his first pole position in Formula 1.
In the hectic qualification for the penultimate round of the season in Bahrain, the 22-year-old world champion substitute only narrowly had to admit defeat to the Finn Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes.
"I'm satisfied, but also a little disappointed that it wasn't enough," said Russell.
The Briton, who usually sits in the slowest car in the field at Williams, stepped in at Sakhir for Hamilton, who was infected with the corona virus.
"If you had told me that last week, I would not have believed you," said Russell, who will start the race from the front row for the first time at the Grand Prix on Sunday (6.10 p.m. / RTL and Sky).
"The future belongs to him," said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, praising Briton Russell.
For his rival Bottas it was the 16th pole position of his career.
Third place went to the Dutchman Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.
Sebastian Vettel failed again prematurely.
In 13th he missed the final round and was again slower than his Ferarri team-mate Charles Leclerc, who was fourth.
"I actually had a good feeling and don't know what went wrong," said Vettel.
For the 33-year-old, the working day had already started with bad news.
In the final training session, the mechanics discovered a problem with the Ferrari's engine, so the drive unit had to be replaced in just under three hours before qualification began.
"That shouldn't have played a role, the boys did a good job," said the Hessian.
As so often this year, Vettel now has to try to fight his way forward from midfield.
From a sporting point of view, the penultimate Grand Prix of the turbulent emergency season on Sunday (6.10 p.m. / RTL and Sky) is no longer of decisive importance.
Mercedes is already established as the constructors' world champion, and Hamilton has long since secured his seventh world title.
However, because of his illness, the superstar is missing the chance to set the record of 13 wins this season.
The 35-year-old had won eleven times this year.
It remains to be seen whether it will be ready for action again in time for the season finale in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
The Frenchman Romain Grosjean also has to take a break in Bahrain.
The Haas driver had a serious accident last Sunday when his car broke up in a crash and went up in flames.
The 34-year-old survived the horror accident with burns on the back of his hand and was able to leave the hospital after three days.
A comprehensive investigation of the events should clarify in the coming weeks whether Formula 1 needs to take further security measures.
For Grosjean, the Brazilian Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of the two-time world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, will appear for the first time in Sakhir.
The 24-year-old did not get past last place in qualifying and was therefore also slower than the second debutant.
The Briton Jack Aitken, Williams representative of Russell, who was loaned to Mercedes, returned to the garage in 18th place.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 201205-99-584938 / 3
Information about the route
World Federation information
Mercedes message to Russell