Mercedes Valtteri Bottas will start Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix from pole. The Finn edged out his team-mate Lewis Hamilton by .02 of a second to take his first pole position of his career.
It was a good lap from the Finn in the closing moments of the session after Hamilton lost a bit of time on his final lap of Q3. But, Bottas also appeared to also make a mistake early on in his lap, but that didn’t stop him taking pole.
But, that should have brought Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel into play but Mercedes appeared in qualifying and in FP2 yesterday to have the advantage in the cooler conditions. Over the past three years, pole position hasn’t always converted into the win but the front row has been key.
Bottas said “I’m really happy. It’s the first pole of my career in my fifth season. It took a few races but I’ve got it and hopefully it’s the first of many. Big thanks to the team for giving me this car.”
“We’re both starting on the front row and we have done a good job to focus on the evening conditions.” For the Finn, it will begin to lift some of the pressure off after beating Hamilton when it mattered, as Hamilton was fastest in Q1 and Q2.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start third behind the Mercedes duo. After appearing close in practice, in the cooler conditions of the evening Mercedes appear if they have the slight advantage over the prancing horses.
Like Hamilton, the German also lost time in the last sector as well as the first sector. However, looking at his long run pace he knows that he may be able to come back in the race.
Hamilton said “Big congratulations to Valtteri. He has been working so hard. Today he was just quicker so hats off to him.
“The first lap was good. But it was so close. I was losing a bit of time in the first sector. The second lap was not as good. Just overall a little bit down. Overall, a great battle.”
Daniel Ricciardo split the Ferrari’s after beating Kimi Raikkonen by .02 of a second to start fourth with Max Verstappen sixth. But the Dutchman claims he had more to give, accusing Williams’s Felipe Massa of blocking him.
Raikkonen has struggled so far this season to get to grips with the new car and told reporters that he was “struggling like crazy with understeer” after his opening Q3 run.
Both, Renaults made it into Q3 for the first time since their return to the sport last season, with Nico Hulkenberg seventh and Jolyon Palmer tenth. This underlines the gains that the team are making with their car.
Fernando Alonso once again ran into problems with his McLaren in Q2, which requires a power unit change for the race, meaning he will start fourteenth. The other Spaniard Carlos Sainz wasn’t fairing much better as his Toro Rosso came to a halt on his quick lap.
It meant that despite his quickest first sector and a very competitive second sector, but the loss of power meant he dropped out and Alonso made the cut. His team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who had outpaced Alonso fractionally during the initial runs in Q1, could only manage seventeenth
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