Lewis Hamilton has beaten his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by two-tenths of a second to take pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix. The seven-times champion went fastest on his final run finding two tenths, to top all three parts of qualifying.
Hamilton took his ninety-eighth career pole as he chases down a century by the end of the season, he found time in all three sectors setting a 27.6, a new track record as Mercedes locked out the front row. Like Hamilton, both Bottas and Max Verstappen were able to improve on the last lap, but not by enough to challenge for pole.
The seven-times champion proving untouchable as he claimed his tenth pole of 2020. He has made it clear that he wants to go after Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher’s thirteen wins in a season which he can do if he wins the remain three races, and pole position in the remaining races will make him the first driver to reach a century of any record in F1’s history.
Red Bull’s Verstappen had gone fastest on the opening run in Q3, but struggled with rear grip on his final run after setting the early pace, losing time which left him four tenths behind Hamilton. The Dutchman had a half a second margin to teammate Alex Albon who was fourth, he could not find the grip on the soft tyres.
Hamilton said “I really didn’t celebrate [my seventh title] too much to be honest, that’s because I was training and keeping my mind and eye on the ball. This is a continuation of what we’re able to achieve as a team, I continue to be amazed by my guys.”
Verstappen added “My lap was pretty good. Just lacking a bit of rear grip in the lower speed corners for my liking. But overall I think it was a decent qualifying – let’s see how we go tomorrow in the race because it’s very hard on tyres.”
Albon looked to be under a bit of pressure as Sergio Perez improved pushing Daniel Ricciardo to sixth. Perez is believed to be fighting with Albon for the second Red Bull seat next year, it could be crucial for Albon for keeping Perez behind him in the race.
The Mexican was just half a hundredth behind the Thai driver and was able to go nearly a tenth faster than Ricciardo. The Australian going just two thousandths faster than teammate Esteban Ocon.
Ocon had looked as if could have out-qualified his teammate for once, however, Ricciardo made a big improvement to go sixth fastest.
Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly was eighth fastest, with teammate Daniil Kvyat tenth. The two were split by the McLaren of Lando Norris in ninth, while his teammate Carlos Sainz failed to set a time in Q2 after a technical problem saw him spin out of the session.
At the start of the lap, Sainz suddenly spun when his rear tyres locked up and was forced to stop at the side of the track meaning the other drivers had to abort their opening lap.
All the drivers who made it through to Q3 will start on the medium tyre which should give them an edge, the soft tyre appears to not be able to manage more than a few laps.
McLaren had looked in a strong position after practice but was out-qualified by both the Renaults and Perez, who they are fighting for third in the constructor’s championship. Sainz will start the race from fifteenth in tomorrow’s race.
Ferrari again struggled with the power-sensitive Sakhir circuit, eighteen months ago it was pole for Charles Leclerc, this year he starts twelfth after being a hundredth and a half slower than teammate Vettel. The works team were the only Ferrari powered cars through to Q2.
Once the Ferrari’s were unable to improve, it allowed Albon and Norris were able to abandon their runs on the softs. It allows the two British-born drivers to start the race on the mediums.
Lance Stroll could only manage thirteenth ahead of George Russell and Sainz. Russell making a name for himself, Mr Saturday, dragging the Williams into Q2 for the ninth time this season. He was still however more than a second and a half slower than Stroll.
Antonio Giovinazzi was fastest of those knocked out in Q1, shuffled down the order as those behind him managed to improve enough to put him into the drop zone. The Italian out-qualified his teammate Kimi Raikkonen by over three and a half tenths.
Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, who said he “pushed too hard” trying to “enjoy it”, were knocked out in eighteenth and nineteenth, with Nicholas Latifi bringing up the rear of the field.