Notebook – Bahrain Qualifying

Features Notebook

Valtteri Bottas has taken his maiden pole position for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, after out-qualifying his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton for the first time by .02 of a second.

Pole Lap

Valtteri Bottas comes out of the last corner builds speed and opens the DRS, then he crosses the start finish line. Stays on the outside all the way along the straight before breaking in-between 150m and 100m boards. Turns in and get close to the kerb and then heads to the outside for two. He then runs to the inside kerb, building speed which he carry’s through three. Builds speed along the straight, before breaking at the 100m board for four. Hits the apex and runs the car to the exit.

Breaks slightly into five before building speed through the corner. Good through six and seven, breaks going into turn eight, hits the apex then runs to the outside. Crosses the track on entry to nine, goes through the centre and then begins to break. Hits both the outside and inside kerbs, before running to the inside. Runs along the support pits, breaks at 50ish metres running through the corner close to the apex then to the inside.

To the outside for thirteen, runs close to the kerb and then to the outside where he stays all the way along the straight. Breaks a 100m before fourteen where he takes the inside apex and then back to the outside where he stays until he crosses the line with a 1:28.789.

“I’m really happy with my first Formula One pole. It’s my fifth season in the sport now, so it took a few races. But we got it and hopefully it is the first of many. It feels good. I didn’t realise it’d been nearly 10 years since a Finn was last on pole.”

“Thankfully it was good enough for pole. I just want to say a big thanks to the team for giving me this car. It’s great that we’re both starting from the front row

Ferrari v Mercedes

This weekend is turning into another battle between the Mercedes and Ferrari, with the silver arrows having a slight advantage. We saw today with FP3 and Qualifying it was two completely different sessions. Watching FP3, it appeared as if Mercedes and Ferrari weren’t pushing on track, which they had no need to. But, they were close on track all this adds to the excitement and a very interesting battle in the race tomorrow.

We also know that both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel made mistakes on their last laps in Q3, so there not bullet prove. But I feel the swing this weekend is towards Hamilton, as he topped FP2, Q1 and Q2.

Hamilton said “My lap felt great but it was so close out there. I was losing quite a bit of time through the first sector, which is unusual as it’s usually a very strong sector for me. Overall it was a great battle and that’s exactly how close qualifying should always be.”

“Ferraris but generally in race trim they seem to be a bit quicker, so we expect them to be closer tomorrow. It’s definitely going to be tight. Looking after the tyres is difficult, so whether it is a one or two stop race will be interesting to see. Hopefully we’ll have a great battle tomorrow.”

Red Bull

It wasn’t a Mercedes/Ferrari front two-row lockout, as Daniel Ricciardo sneaked in front of Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen claims he could have been in the fight but he was held up by Williams’s Felipe Massa.

This three-way fight is great for Formula One, because we know both Ricciardo and Verstappen are quick and are great wheel to wheel. If Verstappen can get Raikkonen at the start, it may prove a difficult evening as properly with the help of Ricciardo he can stay ahead because of his driving style.

Team boss Christian Horner “In a qualifying session that was always going to get faster and faster, Daniel did an excellent job in extracting every ounce of performance there was in the car, and to have picked off one of the Ferraris and got on to the second row is the absolute maximum we could have hoped for here.”

“Max made great progress through the sessions, unfortunately on his final lap he didn’t have the best preparation that he would have liked, having a little bit of traffic on his out lap. Nevertheless, he lines up on the third row of the grid and can still have a strong race from there.”

Renault

Renault can be pleased with these qualifying as they got both their cars into the top ten for the first time since 2009. It underlines how much progress the team has made, both drivers need points as they haven’t scored any points in the opening two races of the season.

Palmer told NBC Sport “It’s been a much better day, yeah. We’d had such a tough weekend. We sorted some balance issues and made it through.

“I made a bit of a hash in Q3 so had to put it into recharge mode. But I’m still happy. It’s good to be into Q3 and have a chance to get points. I think it was a competitive long run for us. If we keep it clean, we should get some points.”

McLaren

Well surprise, surprise McLaren had more problems in Q2 and tonight Honda have admitted tonight they don’t know the exact cause of its latest spate of reliability woes after McLaren suffered three MGU-H failures over this weekend.

Yesterday, Stoffel Vandoorne stopped on track in FP1 because of an ERS-related fluid loss. This prompted McLaren to replace the whole power unit. Today, Fernando Alonso was unable to take part in Q2 and requires a full power unit change ahead of Sunday’s race and Vandoorne’s issues means he has now used three of his allotted four turbos and MGU-Hs for the year.

Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa told ESPN “We are not sure the exact cause, but definitely a mechanical failure of the MGU-H – something around the bearings was sticking and it happened three times here. It was very unfortunate.”

“We are not sure why it has happened just here three times. But we suspect something has happened in this circuit or environment or characteristics. Possibly because the temperature is very high and the conditions are very sandy, but we don’t know the cause.”

 

Race preview

Tomorrow evening’s race could be interesting as qualifying proved how close it is on track between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. There will be questions tonight about how Bottas will react under the pressure off Hamilton.

In January, I wrote, “if that win is to come this season and barring technical problems for Hamilton (gulp), that win will come in June / July.” But I hope and think that win may come sooner, and how will he react under the pressure off Hamilton and the Ferrari’s.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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